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The true cost of the new BlackBerrys

The new devices released by RIM are great, but what is the true cost of buying one of these new BlackBerrys?
Views: 805 Created 12/03/2008

The year 2008 has brought us a new wave of smartphones, from the iPhone 3G to the Android G1. However, for many phone fans out there, nothing topped the dual offering from Research In Motion: The BlackBerry Bold and the BlackBerry Storm. Both hit the market with different degrees of fanfare. The Bold faced lengthy delays before hitting shelves in the U.S., and the Storm's marketing scheme went off seemingly without a hitch. Both devices are in demand. The question, of course, is how much are they going to cost?

Remember, when choosing a phone it pays to check out the carrier behind it. When we're talking BlackBerry, we know that the Bold is the best AT&T BlackBerry and the Storm is the best Verizon BlackBerry (though you'll find more people to debate the latter than the former). So let's look at what these providers offer in terms of plans and device pricing. That way, you can be sure of the undefined cost of ownership.

To start off, let's look at the device prices. AT&T offers the Bold for $299.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate. We'll go ahead and assume you're privy enough to take advantage of the offer. Same goes with Verizon, which offers the Storm for $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. The important thing to keep in mind here is that the catch to getting these device deals is the contract. Each carrier will have you sign a two-year agreement, so the cost of ownership will cover not only the device, but the service plan over two years.

Over on AT&T, the cheapest voice plan, 450 minutes, costs $40 per month. The data plan for personal use can be added for $30, but corporate users, those who have a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, that jumps up to $45 per month. On top of that, there are messaging options to consider. Unlimited messaging costs $20 per month, but we can factor in $15 per month, which affords users 1,500 messages to any user on any network. This is eminently reasonable for a single user. So all totaled up, the cost over 24 months is $2,040 for personal users, and $2,400 for business users. Add in the devices and that becomes $2,340 and $2,700.

At Verizon the personal pricing is similar. That's $40 per month for 450 minutes, $15 for 1,500 messages, and $30 for the data plan. So before going any further we know that the Storm will bear the same service costs over 24 months as the Bold. The difference, of course, comes with 1) the device cost and 2) the corporate usage. For those on a BES, Verizon offers a plan for $80 that combines 450 voice minutes and corporate data. Add that to the $15 for messaging, and the total comes to $2,280 for the service, $2,480 for the device. This means a $220 savings over 24 months -- $9.17 per month -- over the Bold.

There are plenty of other voice options to consider, but they scale similarly. This isn't to tout Verizon over AT&T, or even the Storm over the Bold. It's to show that no matter how expensive the device is, it's the service that puts the biggest hole in your wallet. The $100 price difference between the Storm and the Bold doesn't account for even half of the overall corporate difference over 24 months. Of course, it plays a bit bigger role in personal usage, because of the comparable rate plans.

This applies to Sprint, Alltel, T-Mobile -- any carrier that sells phones with a data plan. You might scoff at the up-front cost of the device, but make sure factor in the cost of device and service over two years. Only then will you get a undefined idea of what you'll be paying.

Cooper Lang is a contributing writer for GoingCellular.com - a top resource for information on cell phone plans that includes reviews of cellular phone providers like Verizon as well industry news and information. http://www.goingcellular.com

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