If you're trying to decide between Apple's iPhone 4 and Motorola's Droid X, you may look at the two phones and think they both cost the same. But while you can get both phones for $199.99 upfront, the price of these two phones is not the same in the long run. The amount you pay for the phone itself will pale in comparison to the amount you pay for the service over the life of the phone.
To see how these phones compare, feature-wise, read: Apple iPhone 4 vs. Droid X: Smartphone Comparison.
And for more detailed reviews of these phones, see:
The Phone Itself
You can get a 16GB iPhone 4 or a Droid X for $199 upfront (though the 32GB iPhone 4 costs $299). Keep in mind, though, that getting this price requires that you sign a new two-year service contract with the cellular carrier. And, if you're an existing customer, you need to make sure you're eligible for the upgrade pricing.
And getting this price requires that you commit to a two-year service plan. Both phones require that you select a voice plan and a data plan, but the actual options vary. Let's see how.
Note that all of the prices mentioned here are before any taxes and fees that may be added on to your bill.
Apple iPhone 4 from AT&T
AT&T offers voice plans for the iPhone that range from $39.99 a month (for 450 voice minutes, plus 5,000 night and weekend minutes) to $69.99 a month (for unlimited nationwide calling minutes). Calling plans that include calls to Canada range from $79.99 to $219.99 a month.
On top of the calling plan, you'll also need to select a data plan. AT&T used to offer an unlimited data plan for $30 a month; if you're an existing customer, you will be able to keep this plan for the time being. New customers, however, will have to choose between two data plans: the $15-per-month DataPlus Plan, which allows you 200MB of data each month, or the $25-per-month DataPro Plan, which allows you access to 2GB of data per month. If you want tethering, you'll have to pay $20 per month AND select the $25-per-month DataPro Plan.
None of those plans include messaging, either. If you want to send and receive text, MMS, or instant messages, you'll want to opt for one of AT&T's messaging plans, which start at $5 a month for 200 messages.
Now, let's do the math. If you opt for the $39.99-per-month voice plan and the $15-a-month data plan (these are your two cheapest options, but remember that you have a 200MB monthly limit on data), you'll pay $54.99 a month. Over 24 months, that adds up to just under $1320. A $5-per-month messaging plan adds $120 to your total over 24 months. That brings your two-year total to almost $1440.
And if you need more data, and choose the $25-per-month DataPro Plan instead, your monthly tab will start at $64.99 for voice and data. Over 24 months, that adds up to just about $1560. Add a $5-per-month messaging plan, and your two-year total hits almost $1680.
Motorola Droid X from Verizon Wireless
Verizon's voice plans for the Droid X start at $39.99 a month (for 450 voice minutes) and run up to $69.99 a month for unlimited voice minutes.
Verizon also requires the purchase of an unlimited data plan with all of its 3G smartphones, which includes the Droid X. That plan is $29.99 a month and offers unlimited access to personal e-mail and the Web. If you want to use the Droid X to sync with a corporate e-mail account, you'll have to upgrade to a $44.99-per-month data plan.
Like AT&T 's options, Verizon's data plans do not include messaging. If you want to send and receive text messages, MMS messages, and IMs, you'll need to add a messaging plans. Options start at $5 a month for 250 messages.
Now, let's add it up. If you opt for the $39.99-per-month voice plan and the $29.99-per-month data plan (your cheapest options), you'll pay $69.98 a month. Over 24 months, you'll spend just under $1680. Add a $5 messaging plan, and your two year total is almost $1800.
If -- and this is, of course, a big if -- you opt for the cheapest plan from your carrier, and you never go over your allotted voice minutes, messages, or data allowance, AT&T 's iPhone plan is the cheapest. But AT&T has drawn complaints from many an iPhone user over the years for the carrier's service problems. Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, is known for offering rock-solid service, wherever you are, so paying a bit more for the Droid X may be worth it to you in the long run.
For more specifics on pricing and extra services, see the chart below.
|iPhone 4||Droid X|
|Cheapest Plan||$54.99 (450 minutes, 200MB of data)||$69.99 (450 minutes, unlimited personal e-mail and Web use)|
|Most Expensive Monthly Plan||$94.99 (unlimited minutes, 2GB of data)||$114.98 (unlimited minutes, unlimited data)|
|Tethering/Mobile Hotspot Service||$20/month||$20/month|
|Messaging||$5 (200 messages) to $20 (unlimited)||$5 (250 messages) to $20 (5000 messages)|
|GPS Apps (from Carrier)||$9.99/month||$9.99/month|
|Family Tracking||$9.99/month||$9.99 to $24.99 (one-time)|
|Cheapest Plan||$89.99 (550 shared minutes, 200MB of data on each iPhone)||$129.97 (700 shared minutes, unlimited data on each phone)|
|Most Expensive Plan||$169.99 (unlimited minutes, 2GB of data)||$179.97 (unlimited minutes, unlimited data)|