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  1.    #1  
    I've been wanting to try out a new phone after using my Treo 700p for quite a long while. I had the itch and was leaning towards the iPhone, but hated the AT&T rate plans. With the pre coming out, and rumors of an iPhone refresh, I figured I'd wait it out till the details for those two devices hit. I was on SERO, and it was sounding more and more like Sprint would require a plan change to get the pre. When that became official, and I had a chance to play with a pre and read about the iPhone 3GS, I played around with the rate plans online and discovered a funny thing. The Sprint plans certainly give you more for your money, but depending on your needs, it's actually possible to configure an AT&T plan that's *cheaper* than a Sprint pre plan.

    So here's my situation...We have two smartphones in my house (my wife and mine). I want us both on the same network so as to take advantage of unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes. My wife and I are both long-time Treo users, and she's been relatively happy with the Treo line, but was also interested in the iPhone. Our SERO plans were individual plans, but were very cheap, so even for two of them, it worked out to be much cheaper than even the cheapest family plan options. I looked online at my past Sprint information (kudos to Sprint for making this easy to look up online), and saw that we only used about 200 anytime minutes on average. We of course also had some nighttime/weekend minutes which would have come out of that unlimited bucket, as well as a lot of minutes mobile-to-mobile, which are also unlimited. My wife likes to SMS me, and I'll reply (or occasionally initiate an SMS to her), but our total number of SMS messages is pretty low. Nevertheless, I think I paid for $5 or $10 for 500 SMS messages or something (way more than we needed).

    Initially, I figured that if I got us iPhones, I'd get the $5/month (per phone) 200 SMS message plan, but with the iPhone 3.0 update offering "push" notification support, I figured it might be worth trying an IM app (e.g., Beejive) to see if that could meet our limited messaging needs. The jury's still out on that, but here's how the plans (for our needs) compared...

    Sprint's cheapest family plan w/data:
    - 1500 anytime minutes
    - unlimited mobile-to-mobile
    - unlimited nights/weekends (starting at 7pm)
    - unlimited data
    - unlimited SMS
    - GPS navigation included
    $130/month

    AT&T's cheapest family plan w/data:
    - 550 anytime minutes w/rollover
    - unlimited mobile-to-mobile
    - unlimited nights/weekends (starting at 9pm)
    - unlimited data
    - no SMS
    - GPS navigation not included
    - Unused minutes rollover to subsequent months
    - free use of AT&T WiFi hotspots
    $120/month ($60 for base plan, $30 x 2 for each iPhone data plan)

    I should add that neither one of us needs the turn-by-turn GPS functionality (though I wouldn't mind having it), because my wife has a standalone GPS unit already, and my car has built-in GPS.

    The number of anytime minutes is significantly higher with the Sprint plan, but if we only use 400 minutes/month on average, then it doesn't really matter, and with the rollover feature AT&T offers, if we do have a few months here or there where we exceed 550 minutes (so long as they aren't our first few months), we'll be "protected" by the unused minutes that have rolled-over from our typical months.

    Even if we decide that the instant messaging app workaround ($10 one-time purchase) isn't working reliably, we could add $5 x 2 for 200 SMS messages, which would bring the cost on par with Sprint, but if we can get by without SMS, we're $10 ahead.

    Again, YMMV (and for many of you, probably does), but I figured I'd post this just to demonstrate that, though rare, there are scenarios (or at least one) where AT&T's plans can actually end up slightly cheaper than Sprint's. So, the claim that AT&T is *much more expensive* than Sprint is untrue in my scenario and, in many other scenarios, is at least exaggerated.
    Last edited by Scott R; 06/23/2009 at 04:27 PM.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  2. #2  
    Sprints customer service sucks a bag, I've been dangling along with them, it's better than it was a few years ago at least. Their coverage is nice and data coverage is pretty good as well.

    That GPS they have, is actually quite nice, better than i thought it would be. If you can get a discount with your company it makes the plan even better, we get a 25$ discount so it's a no brainier for us. I think adding more phones on AT&T is like 50$ per line on that plan and on Sprint it's 20$ a line which is alot better. I'm almost thinking of getting a 2nd phone for myself just for the hell of it to be able to get a phone every other year.
  3.    #3  
    I left out company discounts, because I didn't have all of the specifics. We had a company discount on our Sprint SERO plan (yes, we got a discount on top of that cheap rate), and so I'm assuming that we could/should have been able to get a discount applied if I got the pre, but I don't remember the percentage. With AT&T, we also got a discount. So, if you work for a big company, there's probably a good chance that you can get some additional discounts with either Sprint or AT&T. I'm not sure if the discounts are typically better with one company vs the other, or if it varies depending on the company you work for (i.e., one company may get a better Sprint discount vs AT&T, and another company may be the opposite).

    If you're adding a dumb-phone (don't need unlimited data), AT&T might work out to be cheaper, as their add-a-phone/line is $10 vs $20 for Sprint. But if you're adding an iPhone, you'll also pay another $30 for the iPhone data plan, whereas if you're adding another pre to the Sprint plan, I think you still just pay the same $20 add-a-phone cost for Sprint.

    Update to original post:
    I meant to double-check the facts on the unlimited nights/weekends before submitting my original post. I just edited my OP to indicate that AT&T's nights/weekends apparently don't start until 9pm, which could be a significant difference compared to Sprint's standard 7pm start time. I'll have to see if I see any evidence of my wife or I using up significantly more anytime minutes as a result, but I suspect that we should still be safe. I also added that with the AT&T/iPhone 3GS you apparently get free access to AT&T WiFi hotspots. I don't know that I'll ever have a need for that, but it might be significant for some people.
    Last edited by Scott R; 06/23/2009 at 04:20 PM.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  4. #4  
    Isn't there also a $30/month additional fee for each iphone?
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by TBarb169 View Post
    Isn't there also a $30/month additional fee for each iphone?
    I just updated my original post to clarify that. The $120/month AT&T plan is $60/month for the base 550 minute family plan (for two phones), and then each iPhone requires the $30 iPhone data plan, so that's $120 total. As stated in my other reply in this thread, if you want to add a 3rd iPhone (or even any phone that requires unlimited data), the AT&T plan would most likely jump past the Sprint plan at that point cost-wise ($10 for the extra line plus $30 for unlimited data = $40 for the extra line - ouch).

    Conversely, if you wanted to add a 3rd dumb-phone (no data), the AT&T plan would increase its cost advantage over Sprint ($10 for the extra line on AT&T vs $20 for the extra line on Sprint, the latter including unlimited data rather you needed it or not).

    BTW, can someone confirm that my assumption that Sprint's $20 per phone add-on cost includes unlimited data is correct?
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  6. Houtx's Avatar
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    #6  
    Of course everything is user dependent, but I priced out two iPhones (1400 minutes a month, data, sms) for $160 total (with a discount). The sprint plan (I have, with two pres) is $100 (and a few cents).
  7.    #7  
    I used the heck out of my Treos, with the exception of talking on them. Well, I thought I talked on them a fair amount, but it was mostly to my wife, who also had a Sprint Treo, so our minutes were always covered by the unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes. If you really have a need for 1400 anytime minutes for just two phones, then the Sprint plans will certainly offer a significant cost savings.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  8. cashen's Avatar
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    #8  
    I have had nothing but great responses from Sprint's customer service. And i'm used to USAA!
  9. cashen's Avatar
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    #9  
    Also, i used Sprint Nav today. loved it. outstanding. they have done a great job with that app. Very easy to use.
  10.    #10  
    I don't mean to reply every time someone replies here, but since I was watching the thread, and I didn't comment on this previously...I personally had positive experience with Sprint's phone customer service. I've yet to have to deal with AT&T's, so I can't comment on that yet.

    As far as coverage is concerned...that's a very individual thing, but I suspect that the coverage on average is pretty equivalent between AT&T and Sprint. You need to check your own calling areas to see if one has significantly better coverage than the other. In my case, I have a stronger Sprint signal inisde my house. It's not super-reliable, and I'll typically have the line drop if I'm on a call that's more than 10 minutes long. With AT&T, though, I'm lucky if I can pull one or two bars for more than two minutes. I'm hoping that AT&T release's their femtocell technology (akin to Sprint's Airave) soon, but since I have a landline, having in-house coverage is not critical for my needs.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R View Post
    BTW, can someone confirm that my assumption that Sprint's $20 per phone add-on cost includes unlimited data is correct?
    Yep. I pay only my share of $19,99 per month for everything, unlimited text, web, and a share of 1.5k minutes (Plan: Everything Data Family).

    (if that was your question)
  12. UncaAndoo's Avatar
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    #12  
    Very good point. I'm in the same boat as you, where the two people on my account would benefit from a lower-minute talk (and corresponding lower cost) family plan. I'd bet if Sprint had a 1000 minute Everything Data Family plan, it'd work out cheaper than AT&T.

    As it is, I decided to stick with Sprint for now, and made a $100 deposit with a online credit union to take advantage of their %25 off Sprint discount.
  13. Houtx's Avatar
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    #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R View Post
    I used the heck out of my Treos, with the exception of talking on them. Well, I thought I talked on them a fair amount, but it was mostly to my wife, who also had a Sprint Treo, so our minutes were always covered by the unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes. If you really have a need for 1400 anytime minutes for just two phones, then the Sprint plans will certainly offer a significant cost savings.
    I'd be fine with 100 minutes, but the other account needs over 1000 at times. :-(
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by houtx View Post
    The sprint plan (I have, with two pres) is $100 (and a few cents).
    That is with a discount I assume.
  15. #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by UncaAndoo View Post
    Very good point. I'm in the same boat as you, where the two people on my account would benefit from a lower-minute talk (and corresponding lower cost) family plan. I'd bet if Sprint had a 1000 minute Everything Data Family plan, it'd work out cheaper than AT&T.

    As it is, I decided to stick with Sprint for now, and made a $100 deposit with a online credit union to take advantage of their %25 off Sprint discount.
    With 25% off Sprint from your credit union then you'd definitely be cheaper than that AT&T plan shown.

    I think $10 more a month isn't bad considering what else you're gtting with Sprint, also don't forget with Sprint and the Pre you can get insurance. Can't do that with the iPhone.
  16. Houtx's Avatar
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    #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by ADGrant View Post
    That is with a discount I assume.
    Yes, it is an apples to apples comparison.
  17. #17  
    Very interesting post. I am in the same boat. For now I am sitting on my SERO plans and contemplating...
  18. #18  
    Well, the price for these cell phone plans is about equal for people who barely need any talk time minutes and don't text at all. You guys don't need more than 250 anytime mins each outside of each other, and would never go over? Then pick whichever service is better in areas you go other than your house.

    If you guys are more interested in data for the internet go with the iPhone, the screen is bigger.

    That being said, as far as pricing is concerned, it's very rare for people who want social networking phones, or business use for phones, or even high end pda phones, to have such limited need for talk time, and zero texting, so yeah, Sprint beats the pants off at&t in 98% of circumstances. You really have to work out a very specific and rare set of circumstances to find a way that AT&T beats Sprint pricing.
    Last edited by allthewayhome; 06/23/2009 at 08:02 PM.
  19. #19  
    I'm new to sprint so weekends start @ 8 or pay extra for 7. I just discovered that my company gets a 25% discount so I'll be in 7th heaven when that hits. My famly plan was already going from $300 to $169. Now It will be $130. Sweet!
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by UncaAndoo View Post
    Very good point. I'm in the same boat as you, where the two people on my account would benefit from a lower-minute talk (and corresponding lower cost) family plan. I'd bet if Sprint had a 1000 minute Everything Data Family plan, it'd work out cheaper than AT&T.

    As it is, I decided to stick with Sprint for now, and made a $100 deposit with a online credit union to take advantage of their %25 off Sprint discount.
    what credit union can you get a 25% off discount with? i'd love to join. Right now i get an employee 10% discount, but would much prefer the 25!
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