Is the iPhone Worth Its Price?

It's probably true that Apple's iPhone is the most revolutionary telephone since cordless phones were invented in the 1980s. But $399 is still a lot of money for a telephone. Is the iPhone really worth the price?

Sure, it's unquestionable that the iPhone is an incredible little machine. You can make a phone call by simply pointing at a name in your address book (which is more like a Palm-type organizer than a standard cell phone address book). It browses the Internet with surprising clarity for such a small screen. It can deliver your e-mail, and it displays graphics and photos in your messages as well as text. It has a 2.0 megapixel camera. It works as an MP3 player and has a widescreen display that can be used to watch TV shows and movies that are available on iTunes. You can get directions with the touch of a finger. It has an alarm clock. And it has numerous power-saving technologies, and the screen automatically adjusts its brightness to the level of available light. And it's incredibly easy to navigate and use.

But while the iPhone is a cool little gadget, it's not without its flaws. Some customers claim that sound quality on phone calls is unpredictable, ranging from amazingly clear to static-filled and tin-canny. Regarding its e-mail capabilities, some iPhone users have complained that their SPAM filters don't work on the iPhone and all e-mail flies straight into the inbox. Regarding its Internet-browsing capabilities, Apple's browser (Safari) works well — until you want to view a site that uses Flash or Java.

But the most important point to consider before purchasing an iPhone is that AT&T/Cingular has exclusive rights to it for the first five years iPhone is on the market. If you're not currently an AT&T/Cingular customer, you'll need to become one. If you're currently contracted with another cellular provider, you'll need to find a way to get out of it (or budget to pay for TWO cell phone providers until the end of your contract with the other company). And some cellular customers have voiced opinions that AT&T/Cingular's average signal strength is weak compared to competitors — and even in large metropolitan areas, you may find yourself in neighborhoods without a signal. In short, do your homework before purchasing an iPhone. If AT&T/Cingular doesn't offer good coverage in your area, you've spent $399 for your iPhone and won't get anything out of it.

When considering the purchase of an iPhone, don't forget that the purchase price of the phone isn't your only cost.  You should also figure in the following:

  • An average of $60 each month for AT&T/Cingular contracted phone service

  • An average of $40 each month for the text/Internet browsing capabilities

  • An average of $8-$12 each month in miscellaneous fees (that cellular telephone companies love to charge) and taxes

Adding these costs to the purchase price of the phone, you're looking at somewhere around $1,743 to use your iPhone for the first year. If you plan on using the iTunes function to download music/movies to your iPhone, you'll have to add those costs in, too. A lot of people might think that's a lot of money for a telephone gadget. But the choice is always yours.