Author Topic: Math Problem - Optimizing Work Smartphone Subsidy  (Read 2540 times)


  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Oregon
Math Problem - Optimizing Work Smartphone Subsidy
« on: October 11, 2012, 09:55:09 AM »
Ok, so, previously my husband's employer bought him an iPhone and paid for his plan outright. They are now switching to a subsidy system whereby they will give us $60 a month and we are responsible for our own phone and plan. They will let him keep his current device (iPhone 4 on AT&T)  but we will be responsible for future devices. Folks familiar with my situation will remember that DH is open to Mustachianism, but is not himself a follower of "the way" :) As such, these are my parameters:

  • DH is a heavy data and text user, but light on minutes. $0.33 a MB is not going to work, but we could even go down to zero minutes and use an app for calls.
  • Ideally, he should be using an iPhone for his device. He develops iPhone UIs for his work, so that is the reason he gets the subsidy in the first place. I think I could convince him to be on a cheaper Android device for a finite period of time, but long term he has to stay relatively up to date with iOS devices. He has said 3 years old is the realistic cap, two years old would be better.
  • Subsidy is $60 a month regardless of what we spend. As such it isn't really a factor.

We could take his existing phone and go to StraightTalk for $45 a month, but I'm sketchy on their service. Or, we could go to Virgin Mobile for $35 and buy a new device. A compatible iPhone with Virgin is $550 (4)-650 (4s), I haven't found any used on CL, and they don't have the iPhone 5 yet. So, really there are two routes we could go:

  • Straight Talk @ $45 a month - could buy 1 year old used AT&T iOS devices every other year on CL (approx. $300, based on current ads for 4s) - cost = $690 a year
  • Virgin Mobile @ $35 a month - buy new iOS device every 3 years - cost = approx. $640 a year (based on current price of $650 for new device)

Now that I type that all out I'm thinking we'll take his existing phone to ST until VM comes out with the iPhone 5, then switch over...but I'm going to post this for feedback anyway in case other folks have better ideas than the two I came up with.



  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Location: VaBch
Re: Math Problem - Optimizing Work Smartphone Subsidy
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2012, 01:18:08 PM »
Have you considered having it unlocked so it can be used with a different carrier?


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4145
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Math Problem - Optimizing Work Smartphone Subsidy
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2012, 02:55:19 PM »
StraightTalk is a raw deal, and their "unlimited" is anything but. Their data plan is actually soft capped at 2GB which can result in account termination if gone over, and 90% of the traffic that would even get you to that 2GB a month is technically forbidden in their terms of service as grounds for termination as well. That means no streaming, no internet telephony, no downloading media files... it's a bit of a racket, actually, like all of America Movil's brands.

Details here:

The best option is a third and unmentioned option, actually. Given the text and data usage, T-Mobile is going to be your best option. They have an "unlimited" text and internet with 100 minutes of talk service for $30 a month under their monthly 4G prepaid plans with speed throttling at 5GB of data. He'll be stuck on 2G EDGE data speeds until next summer, though, due to technical restrictions.