I'd Pay More for a Prepaid Smartphone
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!
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!