It is almost time to get a new phone. My contract will be up soon and I will be able to get a new phone. I have been thinking about setting down my Apple fanboy phone and getting a google fanboy one. I have a few choices some of which require switches in networks as well.

Hardware Choices

Now with the hardware choices there comes the price of what network some of them are on. I am really not a big fan of the way the cellphone carriers lock you in and get these exclusive deals with hardware. The Nexus One is the only phone on my list that is available for all networks. This also brings up the point of how much my plan would be on each network. There is also the consideration of speed and reliability.

Network Choices

Now you can’t talk about networks without bringing up the super confusing pricing structures. If I am going to run a shiny new phone with super internet powers I will need a data plan. Now what I have found out is that T-Mobile has two plan structures. One with a contract and discounts on phones, and one with no contract but no discount called “Plus”. The drawback to the Plus account is that you have to pay full price for your phone. I kind of like this idea, but it does mean more money up front. This is what the prices of each network would look like for me. I want about 450-500 minutes of talk time, unlimited texts and unlimited data.



AT&T T-Mobile T-Mobile Plus Verizon
Phone $40 $40 $30 $40
Texts $20 $10 $10 $20
Data $30 $30 $20 $30
Total $90 $80 $60 $90
Year $1,080 $960 $720 $1,080
2 Year Contract $2160 $1,920 $1,440 $2160

AT&T are pretty much exactly the same per month for what I want so I wouldn’t be saving any money if I switched to Verizon. T-Mobile on the other hand could save me a bunch. If I did the Plus I would save $720 over a 2 year period. That is quite a bit, but I dont’ get to see it right away. If I do a normal plan I save about $240. Not as much as the Plus plan, but I could get a subsidized phone.

With that in mind it does make the hardware choices a little harder. AT&T has the iPhone so I would be stuck with them if I went that way. Verizon has both the Droid and the new Droid Incredible so I would have to pay more than T-Mobile and have to switch. I can get the Nexus One on any network but Verizon (soon though), but only T-Mobile has a subsidized one.

Now all the different networks have different data speeds and technologies. AT&T and T-Mobile have the 3G network, while Verizon uses digital CDMA. I have never used Verizon so I don’t know how it works. I do know that AT&T has been annoying me recently with my current iPhone 3G. I think a large part of that is the fact that it can only connect to 3 out of the 4 bands that AT&T supports. The new 3GS’s run significantly faster network speeds, but I don’t know if that is enough to keep me on the iPhone bandwagon.

I am also thinking about all the political reasons involved here. As a developer I am appalled at what Apple has been up to with their App Store policies. Really arbitrary rules and rejections. Disallowing flash instead of working with Adobe to find a solution. The “Walled Garden” effect that the App Store is going for is against what I believe software should be. I really like where the Android platform is going and there are some very exciting things happening in that arena right now. I like how Google is going about the entire project. Open source platform and an open marketplace for applications. Now, I know Apple is in the business of selling hardware, and they want to control the user experience of their hardware as much as they can. They do a wonderful job of making the experience enjoyable. I do think that openness and usability can coexist and do so fairly well for the most part on the Android phones I have looked at.

Either way I go, I think I will be pleased with the next generation of smartphone. There are some really cool features and hardware out there that I am excited to explore. I am hooked on the ability to have all my information at the tips of my fingers at all times. I can’t imagine not having that ever again.

Update 5-10-10 : I have decided to go with the new HTC Droid Incredible from Verizon.  It looks like the best smart phone out there and the plan is not any more than I already pay. The Verizon network also looks to be far superior to anything else out there at the moment.