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.



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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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{39 Comments}

  1. Glenn:

    It’s odd I have not seen one comment about not having a cell phone at all. That will really save you money. I have a few friends that have IPhones, and they pay about $80/month for the luxury. That is over $1000 a year. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of a cell phone being a necessity. I am not that old (30), but remember a time when no one carried a cell phone. How did people get by? Here is a great blog post to refresh everyone’s memory.
    http://earlyretirementextreme......e-pla.html

    Just some food for thought. Just in case you are wondering I do not have a cellphone. One benefit is being out of touch. It is so nice to go on a ride or walk and not have any interruptions.

  2. Jenn M:

    I’ve had my i-phone for about 6 months and I love it! I’m really not sure that it is worth the upfront cost plus the added monthly expense. We have a great deal on a monthly plan, but it is an added expense. Having everything – ipod, gps, phone, e-mail, web all in one place is wonderful. Do I need it — not so sure.

    On another note — my favorite new techno furgal item is using skype as a phone service with my family.

  3. Very timely, I am starting my 2-3 month search (hey, I gotta live with this thing for two years) for a “smartphone”. I am looking at the Blackberrys . . . I have avoided anything more than a small, simple flip phone, but now need web, text, and email on the road . . .

    The one thing I have learned is that these phones and plans are expensive if you can’t write off the expenses on your taxes . . .

    The process I am using to help determine what will work best, is to question everyone I see with one. People are pretty upfront about the pros and cons. Thankfully, I still have time.

  4. CJ McD:

    If you are a doctor, lawyer, publicist, real estate agent, broker or writer- maybe yes, if you need the immediate “now” knowledge to clinch/seal a deal. For the rest of us– it’s fluff and money. Apps are nice but burn battery time and money. Do you “need’ them or “want” them? That’s what you need to justify.

  5. Erin:

    Like Lisa above, I’m a stay-at-home and just can’t see it. In fact, at the end of this month, my cell contract ends and I’ll be switching to TracFone. My 18-year old has had a TracFone for two years and has amazing coverage and not one issue with his phone. I’ll be buying it at Target and buying the 1 year/400 minutes card at the same time. The phone will cost $60 and the card will cost $100. For the life of my time with TracFone I will automatically have double minutes, so I’ll be getting 800 minutes with that first card I buy. So, I’ll have a cell phone for $13/month with 800 minutes to start with…not a bad deal as I calculate it out.

  6. Kate:

    Hi
    well I am a complete gadget girl but unfortunately do not have the money to buy them.
    As for smart phones well yes i do think they are worth it IF you will use it. There is no point in having a smart phone if all you do is make calls take the odd photo and text. But if you surf the net, listen to music use socail networks regualry or need to send emails for business etc then I think they are wonderful.

    I would say though that if you decide to buy one then make sure you shoose one that will meet your needs for a long time two years plus otherwise you will find yourself shelling out again within the year.

  7. My husband has one of these phones free through work… but it has saved us money… there are free apps to download that can show you who has the cheapest gas in the area, what stores have sales etc… those things have been great in helping us save a little here and there…

  8. Dan:

    I live so far out in the sticks that cell phone coverge is a hit and miss thing at times. Never travel much and when I do I use Vonage off my laptap if needed and that works great the few times I am mobile. (not one to stand in a grocery store yacking on the phone or texting friends anyway)

    The only mobile device we have is a throwaway phone with prepaid minutes for roadside emergencies if they occur. (we pray they do not)

  9. My husband has an iPhone. There are so few occasions when he needs to make a phone call that he put off getting a wireless phone until the iPhone was released. Why? This gadget can be his “office in a pocket.”

    As far as money-saving, it’s saved us from making a purchase of a GPS navigation device. The application my husband downloaded works off the cell phone towers so it’s not as accurate as true GPS. But it works for what we need.

  10. Iva:

    I have prepaid through Alltel and recently upgraded my cheap $30 phone (with no bells and whistles) to a more expensive $60 phone (with a camera and caller id on the outside of the flip phone). I must say, I do enjoy the larger, brighter screen. The only thing I use my phone for are unlimited texting, calls and the occasional shot.

  11. Meg:

    I haven’t tried the iPhone, but I have a “Crackberry” Curve and I hate to admit that I LOVE it.

    It was $50 with the contract and well worth it since I have an unlimited data and messaging plan (and 450 minutes I barely touch since Sprint-to-Sprint calls, weekends, and nights after 7pm are free). The total comes out to about $60-something a month and my husband pays about $100 for unlimited everything (though that’s reimbursed by the company he works for).

    I love being able to look things up online whenever something comes to mind. The other day, my family and I were hunting down the parade route at a festival and I brought up the festival homepage with the info. Then I found the location on Google Maps and used the GPS to get us there.

    I’ve looked up nearby restaurants and menus while traveling, I check Twitter and my Gmail regularly, I chat with friends on GTalk, I take photos and post them to Facebook to share with friends, I upload music that I’m practicing in chorus, I use the voice recorder to critique my singing, I pass the time when traveling by reading Google Reader or watching video on YouTube or CNN, I check our financial information and even update numbers in Google Docs. I use it as my planner, my alarm, my to-do list (via Remember the Milk), my calculator, my notebook.

    The other day, my husband used his to video him opening a box and displaying the contents since the co. he ordered from seems to be shorting him parts.

    I take photos of plants that I want to identify later, or of things that I want share with my husband (from our cats’ cuteness to things I’m thinking of buying). I read reviews of items that I’m looking at in stores and compare prices online.

    In short, this “just get me something that makes calls” kind of gal has become a Crackberry convert and I can’t imagine life without it. So, while I know the iPhone has a lot of the same features, be sure to check out both.

  12. HisHersMoney:

    Both of us have data plans. Hers is though work and paid by her employer and his we pay for ourselves. We both love them but I think if you need to cut back it should NOT be on your plan. It is an easy way to savee hundreds of dollars per year and you really don’t need it unless you can specifically make money by having it (see the comment above regarding the use in one’s real estate business). If you can’t write it off you shouldn’t have it if you need the money elsewhere.

  13. Jessica:

    I continue to be amazed what the iPhone can do…like many others, we canceled our home phone service since getting them, which is probably the only true money-saver. The applications really make a difference though. I never leave the house without my grocery and to-do lists (rememberthemilk.com has an iPhone app), can always see what my family’s schedules are (Google calendars), do comparison shopping and check out reviews if I think I’ve found a good deal (Amazon), plus all the fun stuff :-)

  14. it should say they DID NOT require that we have an internet package! Sorry!

  15. I got a blackberry pearl for my husband and myself in December. but instead of going to a retail store we went to Sam’s and renewed our contracts. Instead of $200 we paid $28 for the phones and they also did require that we have an internet package. I have my laptop and internet at home since I am a student. Just by renewing their we save a bundle. The down side was that the phone selection wasn’t as large. Hope this helps! Oh, and we don’t have a home phone either.

  16. Robert Johnson:

    I wanted an iPhone 3G for several months but just could not justify the extra $30 a month for the data plan. Then after having continuous problems with my current phone, I decided to go ahead and get one. I have not regretted that decision at all! I didn’t think I would use the data plan very much, but I have found that I use it a great deal.

    I love the Google Maps that comes with the iPhone. It has a real help when I needed to figure out how to get to Ikea in Portland last week. I also check and update my Facebook with the free iPhone app for Facebook, surf the web much more often that I thought I would, listen to music with the “built-in” iPod, play some great games (Cubes, Trism, Monopoly & Tetris are my faves), check news stories, use the free Evernote app to view and create notes (syncs with my PC) and so much more. The iPhone 3G is such an elegant phone and the user interface is so much better than any other phone.

    I like it so much that this summer when the new iPhones come out, I am going to buy one for my wife! I think it is the ultimate phone! The $30 data plan has actually saved me money on several occasions because I could check prices and look things up while in a store.

    It is not perfect and it is not for everyone, but most folks will love it. After you have used it for awhile, you will have a tough time going back to anything else!

    One app that you will love because it saves you money is App Sniper. It gives you a list of apps that are on sale at either a reduced price, or on sale for free! It costs just 99 cents, but has saved me at least $30 on apps. Many apps will have a “one day special” where they offer their app for free or a reduced price.

    Enjoy your iPhone!

  17. gypsie:

    DH and I just looked at iPhones last night. We are currently with Sprint and to get the phones with ATT, the start up costs alone are over $500. Then add on the monthly charges for the plan and we were looking at close to $200 for two people (and that was with the family plan and only 700 minutes). We are paying less than a third of that with Sprint and i am not convinced that my DH would even carry the stupid thing as he wont carry his cell phone now (which he had to have for Just in Case times on the motorcycle). While I think the iPhone is great, I cannot justify the expense and we are DINKs.

  18. Lisa:

    I think for those who travel and do a lot of business, it is a nice phone and probably worth the investment, but I’m a stay at home mom and after the “novelty” of having an iphone wore off I realized I don’t need it, at this point we are considering canceling our contract early and getting me a different cheap phone. The one thing I do like is the GPS service it has and I have used that once when I thought I was lost away from home.

  19. Kristin:

    I used to have the cheapest plan + cheapest phone but I decided to upgrade a few months ago. Now I have the iPhone 3G and I have to say- it’s amazing. I travel a lot (for business and pleasure) and I am usually scrambling to find the nearest wifi (free or paid) to check in to flights. I don’t have to worry about this now with my iPhone. Also, the data plan is only $30 more than my original plan- my total bill is still under $100.

    And ditto on Amy W’s comment- it’s replaced my landline and the apps (gas locator, GPS, restaurant guides) have helped me save time and money.

  20. My husband and I both have the iPhone 3G’s and just last week cancelled our home phone to just have our cell phones. (We were paying $50/month for that phone through Time Warner Cable).

    We both have a data plan. My husband uses his phone for his real estate business and uses it as a remote desktop for his office.

    Saving money? In that is replaces our home phone and helps with business. Also, great apps such as cheap gas locator and trapster (tells you where cops are) help out greatly.

  21. I have a data plan on my cell phone, and I love it. Access to e-mail, internet, unlimited texts, etc. I got a great deal from Sprint though – the SERO plan. which is no longer available in the plan I signed up for. I get all that for $36/mo, along w/ unlimited Sprint to Sprint phone calls, unlimited night and weekend, and 450 anytime minutes. I have never gone over.

    That said, I wouldn’t spend $100 per month (plus data charges) on an iPhone.

  22. Angelsong:

    I do not have and really do not want, a cell phone with a data plan. (I never had or wanted a microwave oven, either, until I tried one, much to my mother’s amusement.) I use my cell phone to keep in touch with my husband, or for emergencies. My cell phone is an older model Sanyo. It has a camera, but I don’t often use it, except to take pictures of my grandsons. I will be very interested in the results of your review.

  23. Angelsong:

    I do not have and really do not want, a cell phone with a data plan. (I never had or wanted a microwave oven, either, until I tried one, much to my mother’s amusement.) I use my cell phone to keep in touch with my husband, or for emergencies. My cell phone is an older model Sanyo. It has a camera, but I don’t often use it, except to take pictures of my grandsons. I will be very interested in the results of your review.

  24. Liz:

    Out of necessity (due to txt harassment during my divorce proceedings), I reluctantly eliminated txt’ing from my plan and went with a more “basic” plan (also eliminating as many add-ons as I could). It took a few days, but I have seen the extras I thought I needed were mere luxuries rather than necessities. I have changed my view of my cell phone’s purpose and am saving money in the process.

  25. Laura:

    I just bought an LG Incite for $50 when I renewed my contract with AT&T. I bought it specifically to help me save money. Because it has Windows Mobile and is WiFi compatible, I can send my price book and coupon spreadsheets to it as well as my grocery list. I do not, and would not pay for a data plan. But, I found my phone was connecting itself to the 3G network and sending data on its own (even in the middle of the night) which was being billed to me. I called AT&T about it and they took off the charges and blocked my phone from being able to use data. (I think the fact that they could see the data charges for 2:00 AM on a Tuesday convinced them I was not causing the charges myself.) I can still use the WiFi features without any charge. So, for me at least, I would say it is totally worth it.

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