My transition from ‘dumb’ phone to smartphone was far from seamless. In my usual spend-thrift way, I started shopping around for the cheapest smartphone I could find. I tried the HTC G1 and one of the many Blackberry flavors before deciding that, from a hardware standpoint, a used iPhone really was the best option available. However, I was not a fan of AT&T’s iPhone plan. The idea of doubling or tripling my monthly cell phone bill was not very enticing.
Quest for the Cheapest Smartphone Plan
I started researching alternatives and ended up settling on a plan from H2O Wireless which was charging $40/month for unlimited voice calling and text messaging. It had no data, but I wasn’t interested in data since I was near a WiFi signal 90% of the time anyway. I had also already seen the slow connection speeds of AT&T’s crowded 3G network and had no interest in paying a premium to access it.
Now that I had “a plan for a plan” in place, I started shopping eBay to complete my quest for the cheapest smartphone. At any one time, eBay has thousands of iPhones being sold by the folks who simply ‘must’ have the latest gadget from Apple. I soon found what I was looking for and once the package arrived in the mail, I was able to insert the H2O SIM card seamlessly into the iPhone’s SIM card tray. A quick re-boot and I was in business, making unlimited voice calls and text messages on the iPhone for only $40/month.
The story continues. About a year later, my girlfriend (now wife) convinced me to upgrade from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 4 so we could video chat with the front facing camera. I found a deal on eBay and bought it, only to discover that Apple had changed the SIM card tray on the iPhone 4 to only accept the micro-SIM card format. I thought the cheapest smartphone idea was dead in the water, until I did a little research online. Apparently, the contacts were the same on both SIM cards! I quickly got out a pair of scissors and the H2O SIM card and trimmed it down to size. By the way, you can find a used iPhone 4 on Amazon for under $200. For the price to value ratio, this is the cheapest smartphone you can get today.
Voila! There I was still holding the cheapest smartphone for my needs.