iPhone's Pricing Disadvantage Compared to Android Phones
Part 7 : A potential $1000 extra
cost for an iPhone compared to an Android phone over a two
The short lived but lovely
Nexus One, made by HTC and sold by Google itself.
For a while, this phone
marked the ultimate 'state of the art' in Android phones.
Rumors occasionally arise
about Google returning to the hardware market with a Nexus
Two. But, until that time, there are over 100 other
makes/models of excellent Android phones for you to choose
This article is part of a
series comparing Android based phones with Apple's iPhone
and helping you choose which would be the best option for
Please read through other
parts in the series - see links on the right.
One could possibly debate for
an extended time the respective merits of iPhones and Android
But one can't debate the
additional costs of ownership that you'll incur if you do choose
an iPhone over an Android phone.
Are you willing to pay $1000
more over the two year life of a contract for an iPhone compared
to an Android phone? Especially if the Android phone might
be better than the iPhone to start with?
Lastly, in case you haven't
already reached one yourself, we offer you a conclusion and
summary of findings in our seven part series.
The Apple Pricing Disadvantage
When evaluating the cost of
different phones, you need to consider the cost in a number of
different categories. Some of these categories relate to
the phone purchase, some to your choice of wireless carrier and
the contracts they offer, and some relate to other incidental
costs that you'll incur, either upfront or an on ongoing basis.
Here's one possible set of
seven categories to consider :
Upfront purchase cost of the
Upfront costs for accessories
Costs for software
Minimum contract period
Ongoing monthly cost for
Ongoing monthly cost for data
Ongoing monthly cost for
In just about every
category, you can find a lower cost better solution using some
type of Android device than an Apple iPhone. Let's quickly
consider some of the main considerations.
If you want an iPhone,
you'll currently pay either $199 or $299 for an iPhone 4 with
16GB or 32 GB of memory, and you'll have to commit to a two year
service plan with AT&T costing something in excess of $55 a
month (plus taxes) depending on the service options you choose.
The cheapest Android based
phone (at the time of writing) is currently offered by T-Mobile.
This is the Comet, which is being sold for $10 and something in
excess of $40 a month (plus taxes). Even cheaper phones
can be purchased through third parties such as Amazon (see add
above on the left hand side), whereas there's no way you'll find
a discounted iPhone anywhere.
The lowest priced Android based
phones are admittedly inferior to the iPhone, but they are also $200
less expensive to purchase, and at least $15/month less
expensive to own and use.
Monthly Wireless Carrier costs
These are a bit harder to
quantify, because the various deals and plans offered by the
wireless companies change from time to time.
But, in general, there is
one thing that we can point out. Normally, T-Mobile is the
least expensive of the 'Big Four' US wireless companies.
T-Mobile offers a broad range of Android based phones, but does
not (and probably will never) sell the iPhone.
An entry level voice and
data plan from AT&T for the iPhone will cost $55 a month (plus
all the taxes and fees on top of that). A superior entry
level plan from T-Mobile (ie it probably includes some texting
too) will cost you only $40 a month; a saving of $15 which
actually will probably end up more like $16 or more once the tax
differential is allowed for too, and if you have to pay for some
texting with AT&T that you get included for free with T-Mobile,
the saving increases still further.
Considered over a typical
two year contract, this could represent a saving of $400 if you
choose an Android phone on T-Mobile compared to an iPhone on
It is hard to get full
advantage and benefit from an iPhone without adding the
(admittedly flawed) MobileMe product to the phone, so you're
immediately up for another $99 a year payable to Apple for this
If you want to add full GPS
navigation, you may choose to use the free Google product that
is only available on Android phones. To get a comparable
product on an iPhone, you'll have to buy a mapping program for
anywhere/everywhere in the world you may travel, and depending
on your choices, this is likely to cost you something in excess
of $50, or potentially $5 - $10 a month if you choose a service
that offers a monthly service plan rather than charging a single
Just considering these two
items, again on a two year contract, there is somewhere between
a $250 and a $400 saving offered by an Android phone compared to
So, add it all up. An
Android phone handset can be $200 - $300 less than an iPhone.
A wireless contract for an Android phone can save you $400 over
its two year life compared to an iPhone. And some basic
software which is free on an Android phone can add another $250
or more to the extra cost of an iPhone. In total, over two
years, you're looking at almost $1000 in extra costs for an
iPhone compared to an Android phone - maybe even a bit more,
maybe somewhat less.
This is again history
repeating itself (see the
comparison between the
Apple/Android battle now and that formerly between Mac and PC
computers in part 5 of the series). Apple is closing itself out of the lower
part of the market (and possibly/potentially the middle part
The pricing disadvantage of
iPhones compared to Android based phones provides another reason
to project the continued growth of Android phones in preference
to Apple's iPhones.
At Last - Our Summary and
Apple's iPhone and the iOS
operating system which powers it (and which also powers the iPod
touch and iPad range of devices too) is an excellent product and
truly was a huge leap forward from everything that preceded it
when it was first launched in 2007.
When the first Android-based
phone appeared in late 2008, it was not nearly as sophisticated
or satisfactory a device as the second generation iPhone it was
been competing with. But the learning curve for both the people
developing the Android operatin the operating system has become
much more sophisticated and the phones much more enhanced.
Android version 2.2 seems to be at least the equal of iOS
version 4.1, and the best Android phones are at least as good as
the top-of-the-line iPhone 4.
Additionally, some of the
capricious limitations on capabilities that Apple has chosen to
impose on its product range do not similarly afflict phones
based on the open Android system.
We are not simply making
these claims based on abstract theory. The market as a whole has
recognized Android's ascendancy and these days Android phones
are convincingly outselling Apple phones, perhaps in part due to
an equality/superiority in features and a greater range of
phone/carrier choices, and perhaps in part due to the much
better value and cost of ownership offered by Android phones.
These trends appear
sustainable and we expect Android to continue to take market
share from Apple, in a manner very similar to how Windows based
PCs ended up transferring the strong competition initially
presented by Apple with its Mac alternative.
Looking to the future, the
choices you make today are likely to gently bind you into the
future, due to your probable investment not just in a phone
handset that will probably last you only a couple of years, but
a growing investment in software, music, and videos that could
follow you to subsequent phones based on the same operating
system. It is therefore becoming more important now that your
present-day choice of phone handset recognizes not only the
present marketplace situation, but also anticipates its ongoing
evolution into the future.
Happily, an Android based
phone is not only your best choice today, but is likely to
remain your best choice into the future too.
This article is part of a
series comparing Android based phones with Apple's iPhone and
helping you choose which would be the best option for you.
Please read through other parts in the series - see links at the
top right of this article.
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published 4 Nov 2010, last update
28 Nov 2012
You may freely
reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes
as long as you give credit to me as original writer.