January 5 2010|01.19 PM UTC

Tony Adam

Nexus One vs iPhone, Droid, and Palm Pre: Total Cost of Ownership

Category: WirelessTags: , , , , , , ,

Today is Nexus One launch day and we decided in typical BillShrink fashion, we would take a look at the overall total cost of ownership of the Nexus One vs iPhone along with the Droid and Palm Pre. This is the first time that any phone has been available for purchase unlocked and available for purchase at a discounted rate with a T-Mobile contract.

Find the best cell phone plan for your Google Nexus One

Find the best cell phone plan for your Apple iPhone 4

As the smartphone wars continue to heat up the Nexus One is entering a marketplace that is currently dominated by the iPhone 3GS along with the gaining popularity of Motorola Droid.

So, here is what you’ve been waiting for, our total cost of ownerships comparison of the Nexus One up against the rest!

Editor’s note: Nexus One price is currently $179 with contract or $529 unlocked, with the choice of a T-Mobile or AT&T optimized version. The price comparison graphics below have now been updated.

(click image to enlarge)

Nexus One vs iPhone

Use BillShrink to find and Compare Cell Phone Plans that fit your needs!

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Check out previous graphics comparing:
Droid vs. iPhone vs. Palm Pre vs. MyTouch 3G
Android G1 vs. iPhone 3GS vs. Palm Pre

Editor’s Note: We’re continually updating this graphic to make it as accurate as possible. We welcome comments and clarification, particularly in regards to plan pricing and features (e.g. whether or not data plans are really unlimited or just claims to be unlimited). In our ongoing total cost of smartphone ownership posts, we’ll continue to include minimum and unlimited pricing plans so you can have an even better understanding of the price difference between carriers and smartphones.

Lastly, we do know that there’s a 32 GB version of the iPhone, the 16 GB version was chosen as its more comparable in retail price point to the other smartphones.

Thanks for all the feedback!

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{ 184 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron January 6, 2010 at 5:49 am

Nokia N900 has many more features (such as being the only smart phone that has flash, a technology found on many websites and used extensively for embedded video) than any of these smartphones for about the same $. Not including it in this chart = fail.



AndroidTapp.com January 6, 2010 at 5:53 am

Hi, we’ve modified your chart a bit to add in Processor speed comparisons which is one of the main selling points for getting the Nexus One, see the revised chart here: http://www.androidtapp.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/nexus-one-total-cost-revised.jpg


Hemant January 6, 2010 at 5:58 am

I am laughing at the plan rates in US. In India we have voice plans that are as low as 1 cent a min. No incoming charges. General data plans are as low as 20 USD mo. This is purely because of volume. I still do not know why companies like HTC are not targeting Indian market and give the handsets are prices like 200 USD? Just because of the volumes, they will earn far more than what US market can offer them. India has tremendous talent in s/w and if the devices become cheaper, All of these platforms will have 100K apps for sure. I always compare the costs & salaries between US and India and it tells me that 1 USD ~ 10 INR (not 45 per currency market) If this happens, Indian market is far bigger for rest of the world at least for electronic goods.


Mark January 6, 2010 at 6:11 am

According to google’s website, the nexus will also play ogg vorbis files.


Q January 6, 2010 at 6:14 am

Thanks for the comparisons you guys. Definitely helpful to be able to compare side-by-side. but honestly, as much as I would love to get a Nexus, what’s holding me back is the carrier. Both T-Moble and Sprint are inferior carriers in my region. and I think the pricing reflects that.


Jarrod January 6, 2010 at 6:56 am

I am a Co-Branded Sprint retailer and I see a mistake on the Palm Pre “Simply Everything Plan”. The sprint plan, like the similar Verizon plan, has unlimited data. Data limitation of 5 gigs is only on internet cards. The Simply Everything Plan has unlimited data. Please correct.


C January 6, 2010 at 7:15 am

Droid may have 16 GB total, but only a miniscule amount of that (254 MB) is useable for APPS!

Doesn’t matter how many apps you have in the store if you can only download a handful of them! And doesn’t matter if you have expandable cards because Droid won’t let you put apps on the card!

Droid isn’t a real choice.


crcsmnky January 6, 2010 at 7:16 am

Why is “turn by turn” included for iPhone but not for the Droid or Nexus One, which actually include Google’s new navigation software? The iPhone only has paid options for navigation, it ain’t free.


God January 6, 2010 at 7:19 am

They’re listing the features that affect the MAINSTREAM audience.

Mainstream audiences don’t care about processor speed, amount of RAM, screen type, resolution, multi-tasking nuances (either multi-task everything or nothing)

Oh, and for the kiddies living in the past complaining about TMO’s 3g network size – peep this:

ATT’s 4 year old 3g network: 230million POPs covered.
TMO’s 1.5 year old 3g network: 200million POPs covered.
Verizon has em all beat with 3g coverage.

And of course, their voice networks are all about the same size. While TMO and ATT roam far more than Verizon, it doesn’t matter: coverage is coverage, and no has paid “roaming” fees in a decade.


Edward January 6, 2010 at 7:24 am

The Palm Pre’s cheapest plan is $69.99/month and the phone is $79.99 at Amazon.com now. Or, take advantage of Sprint’s more generous discounts (hint: search for “Everything Plus”) and you could get a $59.99 Everything Data (500 min + unl txt/data) plan!


sprint rules January 6, 2010 at 7:25 am

can’t wait for nexus one to be released on sprint so i can use it with my $30/month sprint sero plan with 600 mins, unlimited sms/mms, free roaming on verizon, 7-7 n&w, unlimited internet and free airave femtocell w/ no monthly fee. TCO that!


C January 6, 2010 at 7:25 am

Previous Question: “Doesn’t the iPhone require an additional $10/month iTunes account?”

– Answer: Uh, no. There’s no charge for ANY iTunes account! An iTunes account just lets you easily pay for the stuff you choose to buy (.99¢ here, .99¢ there, app or music) by billing you for it in one total sum about a week after you purchase.

And the chart could be improved by showing the Droid’s horrid weak point. Only 254 MB for apps!!! And that’s not expandable. Decent gorgeous games on the iPhone are topping 1 GB easily, is why the iPhone is such a brilliant gaming platform and sales of Nintendo and PSP handhelds are in the floor.

When the iPhone gives you all that memory (16 or 32 GB) you can use it for whatever YOU WANT to, not only music. You can use it ALL for apps if you want. Try doing that with a DROID (Doesn’t)!

And for turn by turn directions, the iPhone has multiple options from vendors like TomTom, Garmin, etc. Droid can only use one, it’s tiny built in one, where the iPhone turn by turn is expandable, can manage traffic add-ons, street level views, gorgeous pictures.

Really is no comparison.


JT January 6, 2010 at 7:26 am

Ditto to DJS –

“If you’re trying to save money the minimum Nexus plan is $79. Identical plan at AT&T costs $69, plus all unused minutes roll over. Net result = iPhone cheaper by $220 over two years.”

I use my rollover minutes on ATT and with all additional taxes, it is less than $75 per month.

Update chart please.



A.T. January 6, 2010 at 7:46 am

can you do same post but with N900 http://maemo.nokia.com/n900 in another column? :)


Andres Monroy-Hernandez January 6, 2010 at 7:47 am

You can get the Motorola Droid for $110 at Dell Mobility


Ray January 6, 2010 at 7:50 am

The Palm App store isn’t the only application repository for the Palm Pre. If you include the community developement repositories (Preware), the number of apps goes up quite a bit.


David January 6, 2010 at 7:58 am

I own two iPhones, and our cost is far below what you report. I imagine your numbers for the other phones are also incorrect. what are you trying to do?


davidwr January 6, 2010 at 8:05 am

Prepaid cell phones: As low as $100/year or less for low-volume users who don’t need those newfangled texting or picture-thingies or internets and who don’t jibber-jabber all the time.


Brandon January 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

“A “cheapest” over 2 years sum would be helpful as well for people like me who use almost no minutes but would use the data a lot. I add it up to $529 + ($60 * 24 months) + $35 act = $2004 for nexus. $199 + ($70 *24 months) + $36 act = $1915 for iPhone”

I like the above idea. Is the following possible or can you not get a new phone with the $60/month plan?

Buy nexus one unlocked for $529
Get the above mentioned plan ($60 * 24 months) with an expensive subsidized phone (Blackberry 9700?) for ~$200.
Wait out the unlock period, unlock the subsidized phone and sell it for ~500.
$529 + $60*24 + $200 – $500 = $1669


AppleWho? January 6, 2010 at 8:24 am

The minimum iPhone plan is great if you don’t talk or text at all. If that’s the case, why have such an expensive phone? The min T-Mo plan is $10 more, BUT you get UNLIMITED everything. Last time I checked, Unlimited is still more than rollover… Also I have found all my friends cussing up a storm about their bad reception on the iPhone, where as my G1 is rocking 3G everywhere I go with no dropped calls or dead spots. Just saying…


Anon January 6, 2010 at 8:32 am

And don’t forget the fact that the Nexus One will be getting Flash shortly! Per Adobe, http://www.tmonews.com/2010/01/flash-for-android-shown-on-nexus-one/


Madapple January 6, 2010 at 9:05 am

$10 a month iTunes plan? never heard of such a thing.

there is a required data plan that is $30 a month plus pay extra for a txt plan. 500txt for $5, 1500 for $15, or unlimited for $20

but no $10 iTunes account.


Jason O'Grady January 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

Erik -

I think that you’ve got two errors in the GPS row.
Both the Droid and the Nexus One include navigation:

Also, I don’t think that Google Maps for iPhone should be called “turn-by-turn” in the GPS row.

I haven’t used the Pre so I can’t comment about the Maps app on it.

Thanks for that. It was simply stated as “turn-by-turn” for spacing reason. I’ll see if we can go about making it more clear. As for the iPhone, well, they do have the option via additional apps (albeit it definitely adds to the price tag). It’s a type of thing where if we leave it out, iPhone fans screams bloody murder and if we leave it in others say “Aha, you’re biased!”

- Erik


Daniel Price January 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

One thing that is not 100 percent accurate is the NO in the Multitasking section for the iPhone. Though multiple downloaded apps cannot run at the same time, the iPod app can run in the background of any other non-music app. Also, one can use any app (again, except music apps) during phone calls.

It would be really nice to be able to use Pandora or Last.fm in the background of apps, but there still is SOME multitasking on the iPhone (obviously not as much as on others)


hay January 6, 2010 at 9:55 am

missing storage space available to apps, nexus one is only 256mb


jbelkin January 6, 2010 at 9:58 am

It should be noted that only Apple offers you in-store customer service versus the others who offer you only phone sales rep in store – all other customer service is handled by phone or on the internet.

Plus the Android phones only offer you access to 10-20% of the available storage for apps so the storage capacity should come with a big asterisk.

iTunes access to movies, tv shows, music, music videos, postcasts, audiobooks, and apps of course – not only does the palm not offer anything like that, android only offers a much smaller selection. So, just listing a storefront is very incomplete.


Se7en January 6, 2010 at 10:19 am

“Just to let you know no Verizon smartphone plan is only 5 GB a month.”

Just to let you know, that every Verizon smartphone data plan is 5GB a month. And, if you want tethering, its another 5GB a month.

Verizon does not now, and has never offered, unlimited data plans for their smartphones.


Se7en January 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

Oh, and the iPhone 3GS most certainly does NOT have a 5G cap. They provide unlimited data, and no tethering allowed.


John January 6, 2010 at 10:53 am

who really needs unlimited voice anyway? I use my phone constantly but 450 minutes is more than enough for me on ATT- especially with rollover minutes for those occasional months when I might go over.

Comparing unlimited plans is misleading- what percentage of iphone users actually have an unlimited plan?


Tom O January 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

If were comparing costs, wouldn’t it be worth mentioning that turn-by-turn navigation is free on the Nexus One but costs $$$ on the iPhone?


Gene January 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

I have an iPhone and my monthly bill was $99 a month which included the data plan. I think I had about 700 minutes included. Since then I bought a second phone for my mom and created a family plan. Now I pay about the 149.99 listed. Your chart seems to be off in that regard.

You can also do limited multi tasking on an iPhone. I can be listening to music, and continue to do so while I send a text message or be using the map feature and double tap the home button to bring up the music function to forward to the next song if I want all while leaving the map feature in the background.

You didn’t mention in your chart that the google phone also has a flash. The iPhone doesn’t. This is something I wish the iPhone had.


Bill January 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm

iPhone multitasks. I listen to music while surfing the net and if I get a phone call it switches over.


Chuck January 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Have used t-mobile for several years. Service has been great.
Don’t know why some people would be unhappy. I travel overseas a lot and T-moble has been the best for internet etc. with modest cost compared to others.


Wheelercub January 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Excellent comparison chart. There are a couple of minor flaws though with the TMobile unlimited plans. The 1000 anytime minutes is only $69/month and only $79/month for unlimited talk/text/web. You can see them here (http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/Cell-Phone-Plans.aspx?catgroup=EvenMorePlus&WT).

In addition, TMobile’s coverage is absolutely fantastic in US cities, and can’t be beat in Europe. But it also seems that some time during late 2009, their coverage had significantly increased in rural US locations. I even started to get pretty great coverage when visiting my parents in the mountains Upstate, NY. Whereas my phone was useless up there the year before.


BIAS CRAP January 6, 2010 at 1:39 pm

How about a Windows Phone – any windows phone is a 1000 times better than a PRE! The Droid? The droid doesn’t even allow you to add a freaking signature to your emails or text messages. Eirk Chang, have you ever heard of the HD2?


Michael January 6, 2010 at 1:58 pm

You have a few things wron in this article, one the Palm Pre sells for $70 from Amazon, two, I know of no one who gets the $89 plan (or any plan from Spriunt na dpays full price). I have teh $69 plan and after taxes and fees I pay $65 a month after my 23% discount. Just ask for one, Sprint will give it to keep you as a customer. As a former AT&T customer Sprints network is also much faster than AT&T’s on downloads, I will give AT&T the edge on uploads though. One last item, not all Android devices are created equally as they run different versions of the OS, so they are not capable of running the same apps unless they are ported to the latest Android OS, which not all developers care about doing as it is a hassle to do, so the app number for the ‘droid is misleading. At least with teh iPhone and Pre/Pixi no matter teh OS version they can still run all apps written for them.


Vikas January 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Biased article.. Doesn’t mention that Iphone can be had for as little as $69.99 a month, with Rollover minutes (with T Mo, once I got $170 bill for 300 extra minutes, on ATT similar usage was covered by rollover),
And the initiall cost as low as $49 for Refurb, or $99 for an 8GB phone.

Not that I am an Iphone fan, I like my ATT tilt better as I am not bound with a data plan and run WinMo 6.1 and Android on it.


JasonG January 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

!IMPORTANT! You CANNOT use the off contract plan with the Nexus One! You have to pay use the “Even More” plan, not the cheaper “Even More Plus” plan. So, minimum plan is $79.99 month for unlimited data/text/500 voice minutes.

I just bought one for full price to use the cheaper plan and tried to use the phone and it wouldnt connect to the network. After going through technical support at TMobile they told me I couldnt use the cheaper plan. So what’s the point of buying it unlocked? Only that you can use it on AT&T as well if you wanted to.

I have to return it now, minus a $45 restocking fee.


AJ January 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm

To be fair, you need to include the cost of upgrading the memory on the Google Nexus One from 4GB to 16GB.

Also, since Apps are a major selling point for Apple and Google you need to mention that there is a limited amount of storage space (512MB)on the Nexus One for Apps. The iPhone doesn’t have this issue.


jonathan peterson January 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm

It’s not really the story that google wants told today, but you dropped the Tmo mytouch from your comparison.

But it’s cheaper than the Nexus if a bit underpowered.


Bic January 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm

How about listing screen size in the comparison charts. thanks


Xab January 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Are the plans everyone are quoting for single plans only or family plans as well?


Peter January 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Sprint’s best plan is 450 minutes and unlimited data, texts, plus unlimited evenings (starting at 7 pm) and mobile to mobile (any carrier)calls — all for $70 (plus I got a 20% educators discount).


bstr January 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

[Editor Highlight]

Doesn’t the iPhone require a text messaging $$ plan because Apple won’t allow Google Voice? Android users are free to forgo the sms plan altogether.

Don’t you have to pay extra for Navigation on Pre and iPhone?

None of these are not factored in. Family Plans are not considered here either. As a site devoted to saving money, it would be helpful to include them.

Also overlooked are Verizon’s Friends/Family (F&F) feature and Sprint’s Call any Mobile deal. AT&T’s rollover minutes do provide some consolation, but pale in comparison. The combination of Verizon’s F&F and Google Voice make it the lowest priced by far for essentially unlimited everything!

If you want to show people how to shrink their wireless bill, tell them what to do!!!

“Get on a family plan, use Google Voice to avoid sms charges and leverage a Friends and Family calling feature to allow the use of a minimum calling plan saving hundreds per year while enjoying essentially unlimited calling, texting and data! Find out if your employer has negotiated deals with any carriers”!

Total Cost of Ownership – 24 months

Droid on 5-person 1400 min family plan: $1500 each
essentially unlimited calls, voice, data using Google Voice

Nexus One on 3-person 1000 min plan: $1730 each
Nexus One on 5-person unlimited plan: $1994 each
Nexus One on Individual plan: $2100


Rami Eid January 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

What about N900 from Nokia ?


Mike January 6, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The others are first gen copies of the iPhone, just as windows has tried to emulate Mac OSX.

Stats mean nothing. It’s all about how the device works, what it costs and how reliable.

The iPhone, as it’s sales numbers prove, crushes all the others and will continue to do so. This Nexus was just released. Wait for apple’s response. Additionally, the iPhone will be forced to be cheaper by the competition, making the latest version even better.

Only hinderance to the iPhone for 99% of users is that it’s stuck on the average ATT network.



Homeslice January 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm

You should state whether the camera has autofocus (important), and what the video resolution is as well.


BigMacBook1300 January 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm

First off here’s my list of problems with this chart
#1. iPhone 3GS is 32GB
#2. The iPhone that their talking about is the Stock just bought from the store iPhone
#3. The iPhone 3GS dose every thing all the compition dose BUT you can only jailbreaking the one & only iPhone. You can root it but the JB iPhone can root with an app from Cydia called IFile
#4. Too much stuff to mention could keep on typing for days
#5. Check it out on YouTube to see for your self


James Sullivan January 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Nice comparison of costs. What’s with the idiot blog comments though, like if the camera has autofocus or “user experience”. For a blog called “BillShrink.com” this post said what we asked for by coming here. Please keep on track and don’t listen to these people…


mike g January 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm

First of all the iphone is great but not as good as android os based phones for the main reason of being dependent on apple software to manage music,videos,and apps.Apple software (itunes) is bloated and resource hogging.Not to mention all the limitations such as not being able to send anything threw bluetooth oh and the fact that you can’t hear a damn thing from the internal speaker.By the way the nexus one has 1ghz cpu 512mb of ram and it records video at 480×720@20fps so this phone by far is the most powerful phone to date.


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