the great iPhone swindle

Tech Sweden is abuzz with news of Telia’s iPhone pricing plans having been released today. Unlike the AT&T contracts in the U.S., Telia’s contracts for Sweden don’t directly include unlimited data transfer. Also unlike the AT&T contracts, at first blush (and subsequent for that matter) the Telia contracts seem really pretty expensive, especially the iMaxi plan, which starts at about $150/month!

So, looking to maximize my bang for the buck, I worked up a little spreadsheet showing the monthly and total costs for the various phone models and plans.

Some interesting points pop out when looking at this. For one thing, the more expensive plans really seem disastrously expensive, especially iMaxi. If you’re not planning on calling for 16 hours a month or sending 1000 SMS/month (who does that?) then those really seem like a waste. Even if you were using that much, it seems like the standard tariffs, combined with the iMini plan, would still be much cheaper. Again, for my anticipated usage I really don’t care, but maybe someone who really is a big voice or SMS user will calculate these things.

Another thing that strikes me is that there is an interesting pattern to these numbers. If you look at the dark purple and dark green figures, the cheapest totals (for minimum and unlimited data) for each model, they both are for a 24-month contract. Compared to building an equivalent usage period by combining an 18-month contract and a 6-month “fastpris”, they are just barely cheaper; precisely 200kr in each case. And that’s all assuming that Telia’s “fastpris” and “maxtaxa” will remain at their current levels for the next 18 months. If they get even just a tiny bit cheaper, or if another operator has a better deal for iPhone users 18 months from now, then the 18-month contract will turn out to be a better deal in the long run.

So, it seems that financially, whichever of the two models you’re looking to buy, the iMini 18-month plan seems like the way to go. Again, things may be different if you plan on doing lots of voice calls or SMS, but I’ll leave that for someone else to figure out.