Posts Tagged ‘iphone’
Prepaid cell phone plans have always been popular with consumers who are looking to control or cut costs. These plans are also popular with consumers who struggled with poor credit that didn’t allow them to sign on for a two-year agreement with a national carrier. The downside with prepaid plans was that consumers were forced to pay the full price for a phone upfront and the phone choices associated with the plan were often limited in selection. Likewise, most prepaid plans did not always include the latest phones, such as the iPhone. However, recently, prepaid carriers such as Leap Wireless’ Cricket service and Sprint’s Virgin Mobile service began to offer higher end phones like the iPhone with their lower cost prepaid plans. Let’s review the prepaid plans from these two carriers in more detail in comparison to a national carrier:
- Cricket sells the 16GB iPhone 4S and the 8 GB version of the iPhone 4 for $500 and $400 respectively. The Cricket plan costs $55 a month and includes unlimited voice, text, and data. However, once a customer has consumed 2.3GB of data, their internet data connection is throttled to a slow crawl.
- Virgin Mobile sells the 16GB iPhone 4S for $650 and 8 GB version of the iPhone 4 for $550. Virgin Mobile’s baseline plan of $35 a month includes 300 minutes, unlimited data, and unlimited text.
- A typical iPhone with a two-year contract from AT&T costs $200 for the 16GB iPhone 4S and a two-year contract for $80 a month ($40 a month for 450 minutes, $20 a month for 300MB of data, and $20 a month for unlimited texting). AT&T’s total cost would be $2,120 for the iPhone and the two-year contract. This is compares to a total two-year cost of $1,820 for Cricket or a two year cost of $1,490 for Virgin Mobile. Therefore, consumers could save $300 with Cricket or save $630 with Virgin Mobile in comparison to a national carrier AT&T. So why are consumers paying more over a two-year period for their phone and their plans?
As mentioned, it only recently became possible for consumers to get top phones like the iPhone or Android on prepaid plans. Additionally, it has been noted that consumers are hesitant to pay $500 or $600 upfront for a phone when they can just pay $100 or $200 initially with national carriers (and pay more later with their two-year contract). This psychology factor likely plays a large role in the low share of prepaid plans, along with the fact that most consumers are not likely to do the math or comparisons between plans. Brand awareness may also be a factor due to the larger marketing budgets of national carriers.
Prepaid plans may not be dominant today, but consumers are always looking for deals to cut costs and save money, which includes their wireless plans. It is highly anticipated that prepaid plans will attract more consumers in the future due to these cost savings.
The iPhone is now offered on three different carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. If you’ve been watching television lately, you might have noticed that the competitive ads are beginning to heat up; each one focusing on that network’s supposed strength. A recent study performed by Metrico Wireless, a mobile device performance analytics company, reported that AT&T wins for fasted data speed (plus AT&T is the only carrier that lets you talk and surf at the same time), Verizon has the most reliable phone service, and Sprint is getting lots of attention because of its unlimited data plan. The study by Metrico Wireless included 6,000 voice calls, 8,000 data doanload/upload tests, and more than 21,000 web pages. Among the three carriers, Verizon dropped the fewest number of calls (2.1 percent of the time), Sprint had the highest call quality on outbound calls, and AT&T had the highest call quality on inbound calls. When it comes to download speeds, Metrico concluded that AT&T was the clear winner with a maximum download speed of 6,047Kbps (Kilobits per second) – impressive compared to Verizon, which came in at 2,371Kbps, and Sprint with only 1,767Kbps.
However, what any iPhone customer will tell you is that when it comes to call quality and data speed, it’s all about location, location, location. It is unclear exactly where Metrico conducted its bandwidth test, so these results should be taken with a grain of salt. I have learned from personal experience that AT&T’s service can differ drastically from one area of Chicago to another, so state to state is sure to vary as well. Another interesting conclusion from Metrico was that the most recently released iPhone 4S performed perfectly across all three networks, 100% of the time. What I think this means, is that even though you might get a different experience on each network, it appears as though technological advances may be leveling the playing field.
In the rare possibility that you didn’t realize it, Apple released the iPhone 4S recently, and after an unveiling that was met with mixed reviews, it still sold millions. Apple has long been great about making our lives easier with their innovative gadgets. It didn’t stop with this new version of the iPhone. I personally don’t have one, but figure if I am getting a new assistant I probably should be setting up an interview. This might be a little bit of what it sounds like:
DT: Thanks for coming in today Siri, I hope you didn’t have trouble finding the place.
Siri: No, not at all, I am able to access GPS as well as able to be very prompt with meeting reminders.
DT: Great I am very forgetful and often ignored the alarms on my last phone that I personally set, I am very much looking forward to dictating to you.
Siri: I can handle that. DT: I hope you can, because on my last iPhone when I used the Voice Control feature, I had no control. I would say “Call Home” and it would call anything but.
Siri: I can assure you that your calls will be made without any problems.
DT: Well, you are a phone, so that should be the most important thing, but more importantly can you write my texts for me via speech so that I don’t have to call the person?
Siri: Of course I can, this will also benefit you when you drive.
DT: Oh good point! See I knew you were smarter than me.
At this point, I am pretty much sold on Siri, even if it just helps me keep my eyes on the road while I drive, it would be very beneficial. Hopefully iPhone 5’s Siri can read me the ESPN article that I can’t wait to read until I get out of the car. I have always wanted a personal assistant to make myself feel as important as my ego thinks I am… in that case – I may need to take two assistants.
The real question I have regarding this is do we really need this? The Saved by the Bell Zach Morris phone of the 90’s was impressive because we didn’t need to be attached to a house to talk, texting revolutionized communication; Apple provided us with the iPhone that was the trendsetter for internet access and games on a phone; but do we need a touch screen phone that we can now operate without touching? I didn’t think I need any internet at my fingertips or flying birds attacking evil pigs, but now I can’t imagine my life without them. I guess if Apple tells me I need it, they know better than I do. They haven’t been wrong in the past. Let’s see where we are a year from now with this personal assistant. Just don’t forget to me remind me. Wait…Siri? Please read that last sentence and remind me to revisit this in a year.
Are smartphones getting even smarter? I am pretty dependent on my iPhone for a number of reasons. I use it for texting, games, shopping, surfing the web, writing notes, and I guess every now and then I’ll use it to make a phone call. My point is that smartphones are universal devices for almost anything, and now, they can actually be used as remote controls for your television. I’ll be honest, sometimes I avoid watching TV or playing a movie because I don’t want to spend time figuring out which remote I’m supposed to use with which machine. Of all the problems one could have, juggling multiple remotes is not a big one, but I was pretty excited to learn that there is a new technology out there that will actually turn my smartphone, or any tablet for that matter, into a universal remote control. What’s even better is that this means remote controls can now actually be ‘remote,’ meaning you can control your TV and recording options from anywhere.
The technology itself isn’t actually new, but it’s getting a lot better. If you’re using an iPhone, all you have to do is go to the iTunes store and search for the term “universal remote.” There are many different applications available that will allow you to control your home TV or other entertainment equipment from your iPhone. This is easy, but there’s still a catch. Smartphones don’t have a built-in IR emitter which is what actually sends the signal to your TV or other devices. So, many of the apps available today must be paired with a device called a dongle which will send the IR signal from the phone to the device. Another catch is that these dongles are proprietary to each app so once you purchase a specific app, only one type of dongle will work with it.
While on the subject of smartphones and TVs, I started to think, “How often do I really need to turn my TV or DVD player on and off while I’m not in the house?” I’m sure my dog would love 24-hours of Animal Planet, but that just seems wasteful. What would be helpful to me is the ability to set my DVR to record while I’m not home. DIRECTV has developed a mobile app to do just that. Using an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or other smartphone, DIRECTV’s DVR Scheduler app allows you to set your home DVR from anywhere. You can browse channels and movies, search for specific titles and set it to record. I’m sure DIRECTV isn’t the only cable provider to offer this, but it’s another interesting way to market both cable service and smartphones or tablets.