Carrier Buying unlocked phone vs subsidized phone

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Yekezei, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. Yekezei macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2013
    I've always lived in Belgium (nobody really ever buys locked phones here) and I'm moving to the US for a few years. Upon reading forums I noticed a lot of Americans buy subsidized phones.

    I was looking on the verizon website and I would have to pay 90 dollars a month??? Currently I'm paying about 15 euros in Belgium for 2GB LTE and free calls & texts.
    Quick math:
    -Belgium: (700€ phone + 360€ plan for 2 years) is 1060 euros for 2 years.
    -USA: (100$ phone + 2160$ for 2 years) is 2260 dollars for 2 years.

    Is it cheaper to buy an unlocked phone in the US? I'm just confused as all the technology in the US is so much cheaper as in Europe but I can't seem to find a cheaper solution.

  2. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    Verizon and AT&T are likely the priciest carriers in the US. They also have the best coverage. The reason why most folks just get subsidized phones is because previously, you pay the same monthly rates even if you buy subsidized or pay full price. The landscape is slowly changing thanks to T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" plan but both Verizon and AT&T still tend to be pricey compared to others.

    Unfortunately, BYOD is pretty useless on Verizon since their voice network is still CDMA and they limit the phone models allowed on prepaid. Look into an AT&T (GSM) MVNO such as StraightTalk if you want cheaper rates, good coverage and a relaxed BYOD policy. T-Mobile is also inexpensive and might be a good option if the area you're planning to move to has coverage.
  3. 617aircav Suspended

    Jul 2, 2012
    You can buy a $650 iPhone 5s unlocked and use it on a variety of prepaid services. You won't get anything near 15 euros. More like $50 a month.
  4. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    Yup. Prepaid is typically $40-50 a month if you want a reasonable amount of data included. The exception is T-Mobile's 100 minute, unlimited text, unlimited data (5GB LTE) prepaid plan for $30/month. I tried the T-Mo plan and got worse than dial-up speed and constant timeout (with mobile web pages, even!) after I've used up the 5GB so practically speaking, it's really just 5GB.
  5. aneftp macrumors 601

    Jul 28, 2007
    Most non USA people browsing these forums don't realize most americans are on "family plans". Believe it's someone where between 60-65% of Americans are on family plans.

    European countries don't really offer "family plans".

    What family plans do is drive the average cost per line line very quickly.

    If you look at ATT "mobile share 10GB" with 4 lines. It's $160/4 lines. So about $40 a line. You pay "full price" for your phones.

    So if you pay $40/line x 24 months and pay the "full price" for iPhone 5s ($650 plus taxes) that comes out to $1610 total per line plus taxes. But the math gets funky because many Americans also get "discounts" from work ranging from 8%-28% off their bill. My discount is 24%.

    Now compare this to Belgium plan you described.
    700 Euro for phone is $950 USD for iPhone 5s 16GB (yes, Apple charges more in Europe). I understand $950 includes VAT. But it's still at least $200-250 more than the USA price even factoring in taxes.

    So $950 USD for iphone 5s 16GB in Belgium plus 368 Euro for 24 months. That's about $490 USD

    So $1440 USD cost (for Belgium) vs. $1610 for USA ATT customer on mobile share per line.

    So the difference isn't as great as it appears.

    And if you factor in discounts, USA family customers with ATT may even be CHEAPER per line than Belgium.

    If you are single line, your best bet is to go to ATT's AIO/Cricket wireless prepaid plans.

    $45 (including taxes) for prepaid (auto debit) or $50 per month. unlimited talk and text plus 2GB data, throttled after wards. You pay full price for phone.

    Do the math comes out to about $1700 for 24 months including service and the phone. And you are NOT in a contract. You can cancel any time.
  6. Yekezei thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2013
    Alright thanks a bunch! But shouldn't I actually have a family there in order to purchase a family plan
  7. Smith2000 macrumors member

    Jun 6, 2014
    US credit history

    You need a social security number and a credit card in good standing from a U.S. Bank for a couple of years before you can do the contract phones. Otherwise there's a sizable deposit.

    You're probably best buying a full price phone and getting a value plan than paying the deposit they'd require if you don't have enough U.S. credit history.

    Welcome to 'murica :cool:

  8. aneftp macrumors 601

    Jul 28, 2007
    If you are single, you best deals are prepaid.
  9. patt2k macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2012
    or go with straight talk 45$ 3gb lte unlimited talk text
  10. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Dec 18, 2012
    Charlotte, NC
    You're better off to just pay $650 for an unlocked iPhone direct from Apple and go to a prepaid service like Cricket, T-Mobile, or Straight Talk for $50/month.

    Forget about Verizon/AT&T as you'll have a large deposit since you're not from the US and even still you'll get ripped on the monthly rate plan prices.

Share This Page