More Cell Phone Plan Analysis

Screen shot 2009-09-06 at 11.29.40 PMAfter writing yesterday’s report, I woke up in the morning and took another look at TELUS’ fine print. Sure enough, it turned out that Picture & Video messaging is NOT included for free with My5 people. At first this seemed like a big deal, but then I realized that the question that needs to be answered is:

Suppose I send a picture or video message to a friend on the My5 list. Since I have 250 “Anything” messages, does this mean TELUS will just deduct that as a used message out of the 250, or try and charge me extra because I do not get free Picture/Video messaging to those 5 people?

Of course I would need to find this out first, and I don’t think it’s fair to assume either way. Knowing TELUS, they would probably try and charge you the most money possible, but knowing billing systems, it really could go either way. It’s up to the programmer for a minute detail like that.

Another thing that I calculated the other night was that if I really did use MORE than about 50 “anytime” minutes on a Prepaid plan, I was probably better off to go with a monthly plan. By looking at the table in the previous blog post, the trend is clear that on average, my needs are met at about $45/month. If we compare that with the prepaid plans with similar features, they work out to about $30/month. Since prepaid plans don’t offer “anytime” minutes included in any of their packages, this means I have about $15 to spend on a monthly basis on “anytime” minutes if I were to compare them apples to apples. TELUS charges $0.25 for anytime minutes, which works out as: $15.00/$0.25 = 60 minutes. In other words, if I spent more than 60 minutes speaking to non-My5 individuals in a month, then it’s time to look at a non-prepaid plan. Even TELUS suggests this right on their website. Obviously I do not make more than 2 calls a day or use more than 100 minutes a month, so really prepaid IS for me.

I did consider another option however. My initial requirements were 100min/unltd evening weekends OR My5. After looking over my call log on my current phone, I realized how little phone calls I really make. It’s almost exclusively texting. I could consider going with Fido on their $25 a month plan, and then just dropping the voicemail option as a way to save a bit of money. I’d get unlimited texting, evening and weekends, and 100 anytime minutes. There are several downsides: no voicemail, no free pic/vid, no prepaid liability-free-ness. BUT, I could obtain an iPhone either used or directly from Fido as a way to consolidate my iPod Touch with my phone. Obviously I would be getting this WITHOUT any sort of data plan. Nevertheless, I would then have a camera with me at all times and the device would have built in email for use over WiFi, I could probably live without picture/video messaging. I would only have to carry one device, and it would make things a lot more convenient (although I’d probably have to live with 16GB of storage, since a 32GB iPhone is not cheap.)

Screen shot 2009-09-06 at 11.30.48 PMHowever, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of the draw of the iPhone IS it’s features that rely on mobile data plan which I would be skipping out on. Things like Google Maps (while not on WiFi) wouldn’t be very useful, and of course I wouldn’t be getting the neat visual voice mail features, among other things. By skipping out on the carrier options that fuel the iPhone’s awesomeness, I’m kind of skipping out on half the iPhone experience. It would just be a really nice iPod Touch that also had texting and a camera, and useful for the occasional phone call that I almost never make. However it WOULD cost more, and I’d be sacrificing some real cell phone features that I appreciate in a phone. (Not to mention, it’s rumored Apple would be coming out with an iPod Touch with a built in Camera next week anyway, so maybe I should just wait for that and upgrade the ol’ iPod.)

I guess it’s STILL not time for me to get an iPhone. I’m just way to cheap to justify the cost, or would be paying for a low-cost plan that would limit the iPhone’s abilities. Maybe in another 3 years when I’m looking for a new phone again there’ll be a new miracle grassroots provider that appeared (Shaw?) using new previously analog-TV band frequencies at super low cost to pwn out the big 3. Hey, a guy can dream right?

Here’s a bit of a table describing the pros and cons of both. I think I’ve made up my mind though.

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