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 }

I don't understand January 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Nice chart. Reinforces my inclination and habit to skip the $1150 a year fee to talk on glitchy phone and surf the internet through a keyhole.

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daiei27 January 6, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I pay A LOT less for my cell/data plan at AT&T. Guess the “average” makes for a better story. Damn media…

Sad cause it started to look like a nice graphic.

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bstr January 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm

daiei27, what ATT plan are you referring to? The graphic lists average and unlimited plans. Of course there are cheaper plans. I outlined a couple above… and again below.

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

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Toni January 7, 2010 at 5:29 am

You should’ve added that the Nexus One comes with 802.11n support.

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Larry January 7, 2010 at 5:30 am

Is it correct that on Verizon, one cannot use both voice and data at the same time? Seems to me that the most important multitasking would be talking while looking on the internet. If some carriers cannot simultaneously handle voice calls and data download, this should be a factor to consider.

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Dirk January 7, 2010 at 6:10 am

In the Formats column you list mov, mp4, m4v for the iPhone. These are container formats, esp. m4v is just a renamed mp4. Either you remove the container formats or you have to add all supported to all devices like avi, mkv, and so on.

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sakanagai January 7, 2010 at 6:20 am

Love the chart, but it misses/misrepresents certain items.

Texting is not always a concern for users, but is still included in the iPhone minimum plan. I understand that text is included with the other plans in the comparison, but the entry is for the “Minimum Usage Plan”, what I’d expect to be the lowest one would need to pay per month. Can you clarify?

You made mention of video editing capability of the iPhone 3GS, so I would think it fair to include camera flash where appropriate.

Turn-by-turn navigation is a tricky topic when it comes to the iPhone 3GS. It includes Google Maps, but not the full navigation suite. Complete turn-by-turn requires an additional application which can be a one-time cost or a subscription-based service. Unreasonable to add a line for each option, but a footnote explaining this would be helpful.

Multitasking seems to be a contested area as the iPhone does have limited capability concerning its core apps. Either a footnote or renaming of the entry (something like non-discriminatory multitasking) may help clear up this issue.

Support for Adobe Flash goes unmentioned, but has been a topic of interest in mobile phones for some time. Although not officially released, Flash has been demonstrated successfully on the Nexus One and should be available soon.

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Newman January 7, 2010 at 6:53 am

“fyi, i have an iPhone 8GB 1st gen (2.5G/EDGE) that i paid an unsubsidized $499 for (3 months after initial $699 price) with a PREPAID GoPhone plan from AT&T that runs $49.99 with rollover for 200 anytime min and unlimited data. text is $.20/sent or recd. that’s a TCoO of $1700 in 2 years + tax and texting charges. :-) of course, it’s with AT&T service… :P”

Is it really possible to to get pay as you go unlimited data, and text w/ rollover 200min talk??? This sounds like a great deal. I haven’t heard this from anyone else

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jjp January 7, 2010 at 7:19 am

@bstr Correction: Navigation on the Pre is free (Sprint Navigation is Free for ALL data users on Sprint – on ANY smartphone).

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Dave January 7, 2010 at 7:43 am

To the person above stating you cannot use the Nexus One on an Even More Plus plan with T-Mobile, this is untrue. I bought an unlocked Nexus One and am currently using it witht he Even More Plus 500+Text+Web plan with no issues(so the lowest T-Mo plan with unlimited Data & Text is 59.99)
http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/cell-phone-plans-detail.aspx?tp=tb1&rateplan=Even-More-Plus-500-Talk-Text-Web

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Andre January 7, 2010 at 8:05 am

Missing is what network technologies the phones support (3G GSM, 4G GSM, CDMA) and which frequencies are supported. This is mportant information for people roaming between carriers here and international.

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Wes January 7, 2010 at 9:38 am

Why is the Palm Pre used for Sprint’s comparison when the HTC Hero is a more capable competitor?

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Tom January 7, 2010 at 10:09 am

How about including the My-Touch phone on T-Mobile, or is that considered a dead issue now that the Nexus One is here?

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jLo January 7, 2010 at 10:12 am

I just added an app to the android market, please update your graphic.. lol

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Lesley January 7, 2010 at 10:17 am

The estimate for the minimum plan for the Droid is incorrect, as I have a cheaper plan per month: $39.99 for 450 minutes, 500 texts for $10/month plus $29.99 per month for the unlimited internet access (it took hours for me to decipher the confusion of their various plans). That comes out to $79.98 per month (not including the inevitable surcharges, but neither do the above prices). On top of that, it is possible to get an even cheaper plan! just last week Verizon tried to sell me a plan where i have only 300 minutes (because I never use that many minutes in a month) for $29.99, but this did not include free mobile to mobile, so I stuck with my existing plan.

At least try to be accurate with the minimum plan. Verizon doesn’t advertise anything cheaper than 450 minutes, but the plans are available.

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Eric January 7, 2010 at 11:46 am

Seems a little out of date, why not the Plam Pre Plus instead of that old Pre? :)

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JC in Canada January 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Of Note:
- CDMA cannot do voice & data simultaneously, therefore I would add an asterisk on CDMA multitasking capabilities for voice&data (network limitation)
-Multitasking greatly reduces battery life, so you cannot say a phone multitask AND has a higher battery life; it’s an either/or proposition (it’s like saying a Prius gets 60mpg, AND can do 150mph, but you cannot reference both together)

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Geoff January 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

If you get the _unlocked_ Nexus One you can get the 500 minute Even More Plus plan for $59.99. You only have to get the $79.99 version if you get the phone with a contract.

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Robert January 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Actually, the Palm Pre has an emulation mode for the Palm OS, meaning you can put any of the gazillion old Palm OS applications on it.

(Windows Mobile also has the capacity for Palm emulation via StyleTap, though no WinMo devices appear on your chart.)

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Martin January 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm

All mobile phone plan options with data (pre-paid or post-paid) are completely ridiculous in the US. This table demonstrates that very well (since there is no pre-paid data option any more). At least one thousand dollars per year? Incredible!

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J January 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Resolution is a big deal especially if you browse web sites.

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prasanth January 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Actually, you should also I will still end up paying more for Nexus than Iphone if I choose to go for a contract and terminate it in 10 months….

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Denny January 7, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I don’t know why they are comparing the palm pre in this comparison chart representing sprint phones, they should be comparing the HTC hero instead as the Hero is a far superior phone than the palm pre in that it is based on the android os with the added HTC sense (which is awesome). Android 2.1 will be out soon for the Hero, and will be able to stand up to all of the phones on this list.

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drdvls January 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm

can someonen explain the Nexusone plans (with contract) with T mobile.

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Susan January 8, 2010 at 6:17 am

Can you update this data for the new Verizon Palm Pre Plus?

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Michael January 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

@Renee: The Eris gets ignored because it has HTC’s Sense UI built on top of Android, which means that it’s stuck running Android 1.5 or so. One of Android 2.0′s biggest features is turn-by-turn navigation, and until Sense get’s updated, that will be lacking.

On the other hand, I think the Eris’ keyboard outshines the Droids significantly. It uses a virtual keyboard with haptic feedback (little vibrations each time you hit a key) that I found way more pleasant than the Droid’s keyboard. This is the same system the Nexus One uses.

Personally, I’m having a tough time deciding between getting an Eris and waiting for the Nexus One on Verizon. Eris supports multitouch (which makes typing and other actions much easier) and should be getting an Android 2 update in a few months, but the Nexus One’s processor is twice as fast. Should I wait, just to be an early adopter? Tough call.

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Alex R January 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm

So far the Palm Pre is the only one true 4G. Please update your table with a raw for network capabilities. Nobody has mention this.

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TheLaughingMan January 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm

do you plan on adding a wm6-based phone up there btw?

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Frank January 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I already had a 4-line family plan with 1000 minutes, and unlimited text. Cost me an extra 15 bucks a month for unlimited data for the G1 only.

Bought the Nexus for 529, added another 15 bucks a month unlimited data to a second line on the family plan, gave the G1 to my wife to use, then put my old G1 SIM into the Nexus.

So my cost over my existing G1 is 529 + (15 per month x 24 months) = 889, a little bit of savings over the 2k price above, and if I didnt give the G1 to my wife it’d be just 529 but she likes the G1.

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Android January 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Hey look the repressed slaves of Google and Apple are out fighting again. No processor speed should not be listed unless we should also list GPU chipsets in which the Nexus would be embarrassed. I guess you have to cut costs somewhere though with 1GHZ processor and all. It ma be 1ghz but when the GPU is so heavily dependent on it, you can basically cancel any processing speed advantages it has over an Omnia 2 and would only be a slight improvement over the Droid.

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Jon January 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm

MetroPCS is the cheapest ($55/mo for unlimited everything, no tax) yet no one uses them in comparisons because they will beat everyone. And their network is excellent, not like bottom of the barrel ATT (iphone’s network)

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I'm Unnamed January 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Multitasking is not true. iPhone/iPod touch (no difference except for phone capabilities) has the multitasking ability. Just jailbreak it and see for yourself.

On mine, I just hold home button for 2 seconds and I get a preview of all running apps. Then I can close them if I wish.

You people have NO IDEA what it means to go outside of your little boxes, placed upon you by some nosy company, do you?

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brum January 9, 2010 at 6:27 am

UPDATE ME! Can you update this for the Verizon Palm Pre Plus? Alteration to GB, data costs and App distribution will need amending, Come on Bill!

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Nuno Lebreiro January 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I think that you should include the Multi-touch feature on the comparison, because it’s one of the things that separate the iPhone from the others.

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bey January 9, 2010 at 8:08 pm

For those who use T-mobile…

N1 even more plan 500 starts off at $79.99…To be clear, Unlimited text & web plan for this phone will be an additional $20… so for all those who love unlimited everything $99.99 is what you’ll pay. If you are a T-mobile customer up for a full upgrade you can get the N1 at a nifty $179, if not the phone is $529. This is only available through the even more plan, not the even more plus plan. Confused the heck out of me at first, and I guess it dosent help that T-mobile reps dont know much about the phone because they do not have/sell it. Don’t bother contacting T-Mobile or HTC is also not much help. Those with N1 problems will be passed from one company to another!

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Mike January 9, 2010 at 11:47 pm

1. The palm pre is a waste of space in this argument. You might as well put it in the same category as the iPhone knockoffs. Treos had a lot of avid followers but they got left behind and Pre is a really poor attempt to become relevant again.

2. iPhone is the king now. If you want to compete, iPhone is the one you have to beat. If Apple didn’t sign an exclusive contract with AT&T, every network would have paid them gobs of money to get on the iphone wagon. The crappy network is overcome by the fact that they have major cities covered well and they have legions of mac lemmings who will follow Jobs wherever he goes, including off a cliff.

3. Droid would be better if it wasn’t on a hostile network. Verizon makes a big deal about their network, but I still drop calls in fairly populated areas and along major highways all the time… it’s not like their network is that much better than everyone elses. And Verizon’s selection of Bing as their search provider puts the Droid outside their main focus of business. Additionally, decisions to remove Google Mobile from blackberrys while pushing the bing search app are bad moves. If not for the cancellation costs to cancel 4 phones I was pissed off enough to call them and tell them where they can stick bing.

4. Windows mobile? Please. That would be an even bigger waste of space than the Pre. Microsoft has lost in the mobile platform arena. They need to cut their losses and make sure the Windows and XBox brands remain strong.

5. IF it ever happens, Nexus One on Sprint is the way to go. Cheaper data rates and 4G make a compelling case for Nexus One.

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Best2Droid January 10, 2010 at 1:11 am

Nice chart for comparison but does the I Phone charge for the majority of the 100,000 apps they offer WAJ Apple and its owners are and will be

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TechW January 11, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I fail to see how anyone can say that the Palm Pre should not be considered in this comparison. PC Advisor Awards 2010 just awarded the Palm Pre with the Best Smartphone award over the iPhone, Blackberry, HTC Hero, etc… And that is before the WebOS 1.4 upgrade and Flash 10.1 support that the Pre will have next month. (What?, The iPhone doesn’t do Flash?! Sorry.)

The bottom line is, everyone I know that actually owns a Pre, loves it! (And I know a lot of Pre owners)That is the best recommendation I can think of for the Pre.

As far as cost of ownership, I have a 5 user family plan from Sprint with 1500 minutes, unlimited text and data, GPS. This plan runs me $138 per month as Sprint was happy to give me a big discount to change over from AT&T. So, my cost per line with the Pre for 24 months is only $812 including the phone cost. This is a huge cost savings over AT&T!

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Peter January 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I think this chart needs a true “minimal plan” row and an “average plan” instead of what’s currently listed as “minimal”. For example, there is nothing minimal by paying $20/month for unlimited text when you get hundreds of texts for only $5. My iPhone plan is $74.99 and that includes unlimited data, rollover mins and hundreds of texts (cannot remember exactly how many but I use text a LOT and have never exceeded the plan). Also, math is wrong for the Nexus minimal box.

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Andre Richards January 12, 2010 at 1:38 am

You’ve posted similar comparison graphics before but it always strikes me as slightly biased against the iPhone. You leave out important comparisons like screen size, display type/quality, weight, thickness, availability of multi-touch and maximum storage capacity, all topics that put the iPhone in considerably better light compared to the others.

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Andre Richards January 12, 2010 at 1:41 am

You’ve posted similar comparison graphics before but it always strikes me as slightly biased against the iPhone. You leave out important comparisons like screen size, display type/quality, weight, thickness, availability of multi-touch and maximum storage capacity, all topics that put the iPhone in considerably better light compared to the others.

Also, it’s not 100% accurate to say the iPhone doesn’t multitask. It multitasks with the built-in functionality but limits third-party apps. I can surf the web, browse through contacts while talking on the phone or I can play the iPod while doing built-in functions. It’s misleading to put “No” in the multitasking field for iPhone.

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veni January 12, 2010 at 2:57 am

Thanks for this and I look forward to the updates now that the Palm Pre Plus is coming.

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Petrus January 13, 2010 at 8:10 am

Another vote to add the Nokia N900!!!

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Erik January 13, 2010 at 9:23 am

Multitasking here is taken to mean the ability to background process any application that you want. In this case, the iPhone can not accomplish this.

Both the Nexus One and Droid have bigger, higher resolution screens. The Nexus One is lighter and thinner than both the iPhone and Droid.

Only thing I dont’ like about the Nexus one is the trackball. Why is it there?

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Andre Richards January 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm

@Erik “Multitasking here is taken to mean the ability to background process any application that you want. In this case, the iPhone can not accomplish this.”

That’s true but that’s not the definition of multitasking, and therefore this chart is misleading. Either the chart should specify in a footnote that “in this instance, multitasking refers to… etc., etc.,” or it should state that the iPhone can multitask but limits it to built-in functionality. Without either of those clarifications, this chart is inaccurate.

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Anonymous January 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

what about processor speed?

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Zeb January 17, 2010 at 10:07 am

The chart has addressed the lower price of an unlimited plan if the N1 is purchased without subsidy.

However, that is not the minimum plan if purchased without subsidy. Instead, the Even More Plus plan (500 minutes, unlimited text, unlimited web) is $59.99/month. That should be reflected in the chart under “minimum monthly plan” given the other figures reflect the unsubsidized purchase price.

Leaving the plans compared as without contract and with contract is misleading – the lower cost option should be presented with a caveat/footnote re: overall cost if purchased with contract (slightly higher overall).

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Chad January 18, 2010 at 6:47 pm

That’s not the minimum cost for the Droid. The minimum cost is $29.99. And I thought the Nexus One minimum cost was $25?

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Joseph Dowdy January 19, 2010 at 11:00 am

I’m looking forward to a revised chart with the Palm Pre Plus (or P3 for short).

I just subscribed to your RSS. This is twice now that I saw your graphics to be appealingly informative and beautifully simple. I like that.

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Jeff January 20, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Verizon Pricing is incorrect.

1). There is no such thing as “Unlimited Messaging” for Verizon. The closest thing is Unlimited VERIZON messaging, which starts at $10/month.

2). Where does $99 come from? I pay $40/month for the 450 minute plan, $30 for unlimited smartphone data. Even if you add the most expensive texting plan ($20), you’re still only at 90 and not $100.

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