I'd Pay More for a Prepaid Smartphone

by Rick

I have to say that if you asked me a year ago I would have had a much much lower number in mind for what I'd pay to avoid a contract. But now that prepaid smartphones are becoming available I'm much much more likely to pay more to avoid a contract. If I consider that a half decent average smartphone on contract is now going for about 200 bucks, to avoid a contract I'd probably pay $300 or even $400.

You might think I'm crazy, but when I look at the price of contract plans versus the price of the unlimited all-in prepaid smartphone plans, it really seems like a great deal. Yes, it's hard to fork over that kind of money at one time, but if you look at it over even just one year, it's still worthwhile. And then I can upgrade my phone whenever I want, whether a newer one comes out that I really want, or I buy a used on on eBay. It gives me a lot more flexibility.

Also, that way, if I'm not happy with the service, I can go to another carrier without having to worry about early termination fees.

Prepaid smartphones are going to change the country!

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Aug 16, 2010
Last Year's Models on Prepaid
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Excellent strategy; I like it! I wonder if this hasn't yet happened because, in the example of the Droid (the original one) they reduced the price for postpaid customers now that the Droid 2 and Droid X are out (which is typically what they do). Or if they've actually ran out of inventory on that phone?

I think it would be reasonable to continue to manufacturer older models for the prepaid market, which should be cheaper due to older processors and screen technology, less RAM, etc. That's really how the price of notebook computers came down (and lower priced netbooks) became available; slower processor, lower specs, but perfectly reasonable power for most people.

They could even choose to further "downgrade" the specs to lower the price even further, still leaving the average person with a great smartphone.

I also have a theory, particularly for postpaid carriers with prepaid brands, which is to offer refurbished smartphones on their prepaid plans at lower prices. With returns, warranty fixes, and the like, there's often a reasonably large supply of refurb units that are in perfectly good condition but legally can't be sold as new. These would be perfect candidates for prepaid users who don't want to pay the full no contract price of a brand new smartphone.

So many options; it's really only a matter of time. As OEMs and carriers continue to validate the opportunity for prepaid smartphones, I expect our options will flourish!

I really believe it's sites and discussions like this one that get their attention ;-).

Aug 16, 2010
Wave of the future
by: Lucious

Your comments are reciprocated all over the nation, and this country is wising up.

Aug 16, 2010
Prepaid Smartphone
by: Anonymous

I'd pay $200-$250 for a decent smartphone, much like the Zio that Cricket will have out soon. To be honest, I would gladly accept less than the latest technology for a more reasonable price. The Zio fits that bill, but I would love to see manufacturers trickle "last year's" model phones down to prepaid carriers at a lower price. So a Droid with Android 2.0 would be nice now that Droid 2 and Droid X is replacing the original. The big 4 postpaid guys can keep the first adopters happy, while more budget minded prepaid folks like myself can be happy with an older model. Give us some love, Motorola, HTC, etc!

Aug 16, 2010
No Contract Smartphones Definitely Heating Up!
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

I couldn't agree with you more! You're definitely on the right track with respect to how you're viewing what many refer to as the "Total Cost of Ownership". It's not just about the upfront cost for a handset, but also about the cost of the service. As a simple analogy (the reverse situation), even if you could afford a pre-owned Aston Martin for $85K, the maintenance on that type of car would be so high, that you'd probably find yourself up a creek. So it's not just about the cost of the phone (or car), but how much does it cost to maintain it!

One needs only look to other countries like Europe where prepaid is the norm, and people are used to paying the equivalent of $500 or $600 for an iPhone (unlocked!). In the U.S., not many people would think that that cost is reasonable. In fact, they'd/we'd probably think that's insane!

Ironically, people used to pay $500 for PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) that were far less capable than are today's smartphones; however, now when a phone is over $250 people are kicking and screaming that they're being robbed! Somehow the whole postpaid subsidy model has corrupted our brains, and we've lost the perspective of what value really is. We expect a lot for very little personal cost, and then we complain about contracts and early termination fees. Well, someone has to pay for the real cost of that fancy smartphone, and carriers can afford to do it if you agree to commit to paying a certain monthly fee for a specific number of years. Anyway, that's perhaps a different topic...

All in all, though, your point is a great one, and I think we'll see people willing to spend more on prepaid smartphones than they ever would have for a no contract feature phone in the past. The future of prepaid is most certainly bright!

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Paying More for a Prepaid Smartphone


I would pay $200 - $300 for a prepaid smarpthone in order to avoid a contract. I know this sounds like a lot of money, but when you think about it, it's really not. Most postpaid carriers charge between $150 and $250 dollars for their high end smartphones (ex. Android phones and Blackberries). So why wouldn't I pay the same or a little more to avoid a contract? Really, what's the point in paying $200 for a smartphone on a postpaid plan that locks you in for two or three years. It really doesn't seem to make any sense anymore at all. I really don't want my wireless provider to dictate when I can upgrade my phone for an affordable price. It just doesn't make sense!

Also, prepaid unlimited plans are usually cheaper and include most of the same features these days. And a lot of features that used to be available only a postpaid (ex. GPS turn-by-turn navigation) are now available on prepaid whether built into the phone, or available as a download (ex. Google Maps on Android). Not to mention that coverage has become virtually the same across postpaid and prepaid carriers.

I have to admit though that often for the same price on postpaid and prepaid, you're getting a less quality phone on prepaid. But nowadays the features on smartphones are so competitive and similar that the differences aren't often that critical. Maybe it's a cheaper plastic casing, or a slightly lower quality camera, or a slower processor. But all in all, they're really not all that different when it comes down to daily use. And month by month the phones get better and better. What used to be a high end smartphone on postpaid becomes a mid or low end phone on postpaid or prepaid not even 6 months later.

It's really amazing how far prepaid has come, and I can't wait to save money using a prepaid smartphone!

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Jan 14, 2011
Smartphones Not for Everyone
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

You know, you make a great point! Often times more features and more overall capability doesn't mean that it better meets someone's needs. Often times the extra complexity can be a huge negative for people depending on your particular needs. For example, if making a simple call is harder/more steps with a smartphone, someone who primarily makes calls would find this extremely aggravating! Or much poorer battery life. The list goes on.

This is true for many consumer products. For example, just because a newer computer has a faster processor, doesn't mean that someone doing basic word processing, email, and Web surfing needs to spend the extra money; buy last year's model for a fraction of the price!

All-in-all, people should try to really think about what they're going to use the phone (or other products) for, and not over spend or over "featurize" to the point where it's detrimental for what you're actually going to use it for.

Jan 14, 2011
Finally somebody said it
by: Meghan

The way I see it, everyone looks at iPhone and Blackberry as the phones that all other phones want to be. But smart phones aren't the answer for everybody. I'm a nurse, I NEVER have time to mess around with things like aps but I do need to be able to speak on the phone whenever. For that I got myself a Straight Talk phone that comes with the bare essentials cause that's all I need and I use Straight Talk unlimited. I only pay $45 a month and get everything I need.

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