Is the iPhone Worth the Money?

Thanks to Walmart, I’ve been given the opportunity to do a long term review of the iPhone 3G. I’ll admit this is probably not a purchase I would have made myself, because I’m not convinced it’s worth the extra expense, both for the phone itself or for the extras on the cell phone plan I don’t normally pay for.

However, the geek in me is thrilled for the opportunity to give the iPhone a test drive. And everyone I know who has an iPhone just adores it! So I’m wondering if I’ve been wrong all along. Is a SmartPhone with a data plan worth the added expense?

Over the next couple of months I will be tracking the time and money I save by using the iPhone, so I guess I’ll have my own answer then. But I’m interested in what you think.

Is the expense worth it? In the end will I save time? Money? What do you think?

Photo by velorowdy.


By , on Mar 13, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Liz:

    I too was considering an Iphone. YES it is very expensive. Do I need it? Probably not! So I got the LGVU. (I am on a 30 day trial) Looks and acts like an Iphone but cheaper. It has a televison which is very cool and that means an extra $15 per month. Do I need that? Naw… but I needed a new phone and it was a deal at A T & T. They have mail in rebates too. The long and short of it is … IF you can afford it I say go for it! My daughters LIVE on their cell phones and I am finding I too rely on it. Why not have what we want? I can’t wait to hear what you think :)

  2. B.E.:

    I am considering an iphone and am the type of person who does a lot of research first. (hence why I am reading everyones posts) I am also a person who has used Sprint and Alltel. I will admit that AT&T at first looks expensive. But what I have found is that AT&T has so many customers that you can scale back on plans and still get the same benefit. I got rid of unlimited text and actually only have the text 200 and I have the smallest family plan with free nights and weekends and rollover. I get free AT&T mobile to mobile text and minutes. Calling the wife is free. A few months the rollover minutes rack up and then you really don’t have to worry. I use my phone all the time and still have 1700+ rollover minutes. This helps ease the worry of going over. You could start with the higher plan and then see how much you use. when you choose a different plan, your rollover minutes don’t go away. Now the idea of the iphone is really why i am on here. I have noticed all the “iphone killers” and have friends with them. In the end the side by side comparison just doesn’t match the iphone. They were cool and came close, but still no iphone. (hence why people are unlocking them and using them on other networks) I did find out though that unlimited data with an iphone is more expensive than unlimited data with a regular smart phone, not counting the blackberry server. (yes, I had one of those too) blackberry is more expensive because of the blackberry fees built into the unlimited data). All in all I think I am going to get an iphone. Thanks for everyones post it really helped confuse the Sh@# out of me!

  3. SL:

    I picked up a used Iphone 2G from someone that was upgrading to a 3G Iphone for $200 (resale value would be around $300-350ish so I figure I am ahead already).

    I unlocked the phone and am using it with my parent’s tmobile plan so really all the phone costs is $10 a month (for the additional line). Using access internet with their $5.99/month plan – total cost out of my pocket $16/month.

  4. When I was a commuter in a busy city and rarely saw my husband (because he was commuting to school in another direction), a cell phone was a necessity in my life–and we had the bells and whistles that were typical at that time. Lots of calls, lots of texting, while on the road and elsewhere. It was great, and I was able to still feel connected to faraway family and friends.

    Now, however, we live in the small town where I grew up, close to my family. We don’t have children. I stay home; hubby works 5 minutes away from our house. We realized that we don’t even need cell phones and canceled them completely. That was a year ago and we haven’t looked back since.

    I find that many people are addicted to cell phones. I can’t go to a restaurant without sitting near someone chatting away (a particular pet peeve of mine–really, if it’s that important GO OUTSIDE). If someone needs to reach me, they can leave a message on the machine at home.

  5. Dima:

    I have recently switched from a Sony Ericsson advanced “dumbphone” to HTC Windows Mobile smartphone and the difference is huge. My phone allows me to have push service for three email accounts (GMail, Hotmail and work Exchange server), has GPS receiver that works great with GMaps and TomTom software, runs IM client and has a full-size web browser. There’re tons of different apps for Windows Mobile and if you can’t find something you need you could always write one yourself :) The downsides in comparison with my previous phone are shorter battery life, increased complexity (one does need to be somewhat tech-savvy to take full advantage of WM phone) and the fact that WM devices tend to freeze more often than any other phones I’ve owned. In terms of cost I was able to get on, now expired, Sprint Employee Referral plan and I’m getting voice + unlimited text and data for $30/month. I just hope Sprint doesn’t kick me off this plan…

  6. I’m not sure that the expensive phones are really worth the extra money, to be honest. Sure, the iPhone is really neat and has a lot of cool features, but it’s a luxury, not a necessity. Most of those apps are for convenience, so as with many things, you’re paying for the convenience. I personally have no desire to have an iPhone. I don’t even own an iPod because my cheap MP3 player does the same thing. Feels like you’re paying for the name along in most cases and I certainly don’t see it saving you money, especially with a data plan.

    Now, all that said, I’m totally buying the Palm Pre when it comes out this summer. There are several reasons, most revolving around my geeky nature. However, one key factor for me is that I like the idea of having everything in one place. I have a PDA that I use to keep track of my DVD collection, but I always forget to grab it when I go to buy DVDs, so I double up. Having it on my phone would be convenient. Also, in terms of daily planning, I think it would be much easier. I hate using paper for my daily planning and I can’t use outlook, because I can’t transfer in work or home – depending on where I use it – so I end up with two systems. That’s just too complicated. With the Pre, I can simply everything to the phone and go from there. I’m looking forward to it.

  7. Bernard:

    Are expensive cell phones worth it? Meg brings up an interesting point: “worth it” will mean different things to different people.

    As I recall, Amy Dacyczyn, author of “The Tightwad Gazette,” began practicing thrift with the sole intent of improving her family’s quality of life. The money saved by practicing frugality allowed them to live in a farmhouse in New England. So, her thrift wasn’t an end in itself, but was ordered toward achieving a higher good.

    Perhaps there are benefits to smartphones that can’t easily be quantified in monetary terms — benefits that might be filed under “Quality of Life.” After all, isn’t that the end result being frugal should achieve?

  8. Bernard:

    The best thing about the iPhone is the user interface. It is intuitive, reliable and can run many useful applications, which are readily available at Apple’s online App store. However, the iPhone does not have good reception in weak signal areas and has mediocre battery life.

    Another option for those considering a smartphone is an unlocked Nokia E71. It looks more like a Blackberry (with a keyboard). And it gets great reception and has tremendous battery life. Plus, it is $15 less per month on AT&T, because it only requires their $15 monthly unlimited data plan, not the $30 per month Blackberry or iPhone data plans.

    There is an upfront cost to purchase these highly rated smartphones (look on Still, they could be a good alternative for those considering a Blackberry or iPhone.

  9. Ace:

    I feel the iPhone are like computers which are decked out with the latest hardware and runs 500x faster than any other computer. Yet, the user uses the computer for word processing and email checking.

    A phone is a phone is a phone. If that’s all you will use it for, don’t get the iPhone.

  10. allie:

    I just found this site. I am really surprised at the comments justifying an iPhone on a site called “Being Frugal.” The iPhone will NOT save you money, no matter how you want to spin it. I agree that it’s a great device if you are frequently out of the office and need it for your business. But otherwise, it’s a toy. I *wanted* one of these (didn’t *need* one) but couldn’t stand the thought of spending $2700 on it over the next 2 years, between the cost of the phone and the contract. So I got a Tracfone (see Erin’s post above). 2 years from now I will have $2400 in the bank that I wouldn’t have if I’d purchased an iPhone.

  11. Meg:


    While I agree that it’s not a need for most, remember that being frugal isn’t just about saving money for the sake of having money, it’s about spending one’s resources according to your priorities and values. Money is a means, not an end.

    I love, love, love my Blackberry, but I pay for it with my many frugal habits like choosing reusable products and using less electricity than anyone I know. So long as I thoroughly enjoy my Blackberry and can afford it, I don’t see anything unfrugal about it. And I wouldn’t think anyone was unfrugal just because they had an iPhone.

  12. bob:

    I have no LAN line and have a very basic cell plan and a 6 year old cell phone. Its most luxurious feature is dual color screens ( whoah!) anyhow, I actually had a newer phone for 6 months that came free after my 2 year contract was up. But the new phone tore up pretty quick ( I spend lots of time in the garage) hence I turned my old phone back home. It is bullet-proof, doesn’t need to be recharged except once a week, gets good reception, and does the job. I see no reason to get another new phone until my current plan runs out. Then I’ll see how good the new “free” replacement phones are. I’m sure by then phones will vacuum the house for you.

    Believe it or not, I work in high tech, and everyone in the office except me has an iPhone.

  13. robbie:

    I’m with you, Bob. My cell is five years old and I’m on a prepaid plan for which I pay about $120 per year. Also, I have no land line, which at its most basic costs $30 per month. The iphones are nice, but I’ve noticed that it’s mostly my more spend-thrift friends who have a lot of debts that have bought them. Even if you really wanted a nice touchscreen cell, I’m sure there are more cost-effective plans out there by now.

  14. @Glenn

    I remember no cellphones and no answering machines (never mind v-mail)– you just called back.

    I have always avoided and been slow to add the full capabilities– I don’t like the electronic leash and the 24/7 access, but necessity is creeping up on me . . .

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