Friday, March 6, 2015

Cellphone Chronicles; Or, Why I Broke Up With My iPhone

I used to have an iPhone. It served me well. I assumed I would always be an iPhone person.

Then I had Pippa, and Pippa became obsessed with destroying the iPhone. I could have kept the phone away from her, but there's a Sesame Street app that keeps her very happy in emergency situations. I bought a fancy protective case, but it felt clumsy and cumbersome. So I adopted the following strategy: when Pippa threw the iPhone as hard as she could, I pretended that the iPhone was indestructible. 

This strategy did not work.

After a bunch of toddler abuse, my iPhone was cracked and losing little metal chunks at an alarming rate. It was no longer an iPhone. It was a zombIephone. I took it to the Apple store, but the repair quote was too steep for my taste. I was not going to pay $200 to repair a screen that Pippa might break again in a week. 

I was using Verizon, so I went to the Verizon store to procure a new phone. The salesman told me I qualified for a free iPhone and a free tablet - yay - but my old plan was no longer available. I would have to upgrade to a new plan that would cost a lovely $150/month - and by the way, there were data limits.  More money for less data? What the what? 

I had nine months left on my contract.  I asked the salesman what would happen if I terminated early.  He said I would be charged a $200 early termination fee.


I confess: the "free" tablet was tempting. Verizon knew what it was doing. When the salesman offered me the free tablet, I felt as if I had won the lottery on Christmas. He left me alone to crunch the numbers (translation: go pee) and I played with the tablets on display. Oh, so tempting. My life would be perfect if only I had a free tablet...

Then I remembered I already have a Kindle Fire and I did not want/need another tablet. What I wanted was a new, lightweight laptop with an actual keyboard. Not some shitty free tablet. 

I left the Verizon store, went home, and researched my options.  A few days later, I went to Best Buy and a lovely saleswoman (who did not work on commission) showed me an Android that cost about $70. I looked it over. It was much better than I expected. I thought I was going to get a barebones flip phone that might be able to send text messages. This phone seemed even better than my iPhone. I bought it.

I've been using my Android for seven months now, and I love it. It only has one drawback: I can't use it to record and email long videos of Pippa to my family. Videos are limited to 16 seconds. But this drawback has forced me to use a digital camera for videos, and the digital camera takes much better videos than my iPhone ever did. So the drawback is actually an advantage.  

For a service provider, I decided to stick with Verizon. I make monthly payments. No contract, no lien on my soul. For $45, I get a month's worth of unlimited talk and text, plus 500mb of data. For another $20, I get an additional 3GB of data.

Math is not my strong suit, but let's do a little anyway. I had nine months left with my Verizon contract. At $120/month, that was more than $1000 for the privilege of using a broken iPhone. Since my iPhone had one foot in the electronic grave, that was not an option. (Unless I wanted to pay at least $700 for a new iPhone - eff that.) So to stick with Apple, I would have had to take the "free" iPhone and pay $150/month for the next twenty-four months and that's ... $3600.

Instead, I paid $200 to escape the shitty Verizon contract.  $70 more for my new phone.  (After seven months of hard use, it's still in excellent almost-new condition.) And instead of $150/month, I pay a measly $65/month to use my phone.  Over the course of two years, I will pay $1830 to use my phone. That includes the Verizon cancellation fee.

So let's see... $3600 for an iPhone versus $1830 for a phone that I love even more. Even if I have to replace my Android every six months, the iPhone is still about $1600 more expensive.

I don't know about you, but there are a lot of things that I can do with $1600. When I ditched my iPhone, I was worried I might regret that decision. I worried in vain. My cheap Android is awesome.