*Steve Makris is a technology expert who does a weekly Tech Talk segment during Edmonton’s Sunday Morning News. Watch his segment above.
Smart phones still dominate the news with Apple’s recent record phone launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 6.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
I thought it would be useful to help folks decide between buying a full-price unlocked iPhone at the Apple store, compared to a phone plan with a down payment everywhere else.
There were huge lineups at Apple stores across the country on launch day, even a two hour line up on Saturday night at WEM, minus the refreshments served on launch day.
Instead, folks could have walked into a Big Box reseller like Future Shop, Best Buy or a Cellco like Telus, Rogers or Bell store the same day and pick up an iPhone with a down payment and two-year plan. And no overnight storefront wait at an Apple store.
Alternatively, the Apple store will sell you an iPhone with choice of cellco two-year plans. But most Apple fans prefer to purchase the phone outright and get it unlocked from the start. This means you can pop any sim card in it from any provider and it will work.
In fairness, cellcos will unlock the iPhone after 90 days of being online and in good standing, for a small fee. So what it boils down to is: are you better off buying the phone outright and shop carriers for the cheapest voice, text and data plan? Or pay a small down payment and have the rest of the phone cost evenly subsidized over two years?
The cheapest 16 GB iPhone 6 for example, costs $740 to buy outright, unlocked, from Apple. A Telus subsidized two year plan with a $265 down payment will add $20 to your monthly talk/text bill for $60, plus a shared data plan starting at $20 monthly.. Paying for the phone outright at the Apple store, will save you the $35 unlock fee and give you the freedom to pay as you go from the best priced store offers.
Cellcos are basically giving you a two-year interest free $484 loan for your iPhone. And with Apple’s money making built-in memory upgrade, a 128 GB iPhone 6 requires a $485 down payment, so any breaks from subsidized plans lessen the total cost impact.
Most cellcos offer a reasonable early upgrade plan too. Unless you have the cash to spare, go for the two-year plan.
What else is new in smart phones?
They just keep coming. Samsung’s 4.7-inch Alpha, available at Bell, $140 with two year plan, is as direct a competitor to the iPhone 6 as can be. It is Samsung’s first metal band phone and oozes class. It is lighter, has just as good a camera and has the same thickness as the iPhone 6. Too bad Samsung held off on the mid-level sharp screen. But the rich colours make up for that. The battery is removable but you can’t add more memory as in most other Android phones today.
If Samsung ever put all its technology on one mobile phone model, instead of spreading it out over several models, it would have an iPhone killer.
Expect to see a rush of more Motorola phones, this next series with super-fast recharging.