June 14 2010|01.58 PM UTC

Erik Chang

iPhone 4 vs EVO 4G: Total Cost of Ownership

Category: WirelessTags: , , ,

The iPhone 4, EVO 4G, Droid Incredible, and Google Nexus One; when it comes to choosing a smartphone, there are several worthy competitors on the market to consider. It is important to compare the key features that each phone and its carrier offer before making a decision. By looking at the chart below, you can compare pricing, plans and smartphone features and decide which phone will best suit your individual needs.

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Smartphones: The New Generation

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Editor’s note: Though the category is listed as “unlimited plan,” you should note that due to AT&T’s recent data service pricing change, they’re no longer offering unlimited data plan for new subscribers. Instead, new users will have the option to a 2 GB plan for $25 or a 200 MB plan for $15. This is rather unfortunate as other carriers may soon adopt AT&T’s tiered rate for data service, and the current a la carte pricing may not really reflect what the average user needs (it’s either too much data given, or not enough).

This cost comparison is also specifically tailored for a balance mix of users. Obviously, if you’re a gadget geek, you know each phone’s specifications and dimensions by heart, but if you’re just average Joe, you may not care if the phone is powered by a Qualcomm 1 GHz Snapdragon or its competitor sports the similar ARM-based Cortex-A8 CPU packaged with a PowerVR SGX graphics chip.

Graphic Compare Notes:

Unlimited plan – Unlimited plan is the maximum plan you can get with each respective carrier to get the maximum service coverage as a new service subscriber.

Minimum plan – Minimum plan is the lowest voice plan you can subscribe to while still retaining all smartphone usage feature (data & messaging). Note: We’re considering changing AT&T’s minimum data plan to the 2 GB offering instead of the 200 MB plan to better match competitor’s offering.

Noteworthy Phone/Carrier Features:

If you’re not familiar with the cell phones below, you should note that the EVO 4G is the only smartphone listed with 4G network speed, though coverage is limited nationwide, and you’ll be required to pay an additional $10 data surcharge. Having said that, you can enable the EVO 4G to utilize its mobile hotspot, allowing you to connect up to eight device. Why pay for AT&T’s questionable $25 3G connection on your iPad when you can just WiFi hotspot with your EVO 4G?

The iPhone 4 is not a 4G device, it is the 4th generation iPhone (hence iPhone 4). Though it has the highest resolution on all the phones listed below, it’s also the phone with the smallest screen size (3.5 inches vs. 4.3 inches is a big difference, so we encourage you to see the difference in person if possible). Having said that, the iPhone 4 comes with Apple’s lovly marketing jargon of “retina display” — which in essence is just very sharp display: an in-plane switching (IPS), thin film transistor (TFT), LCD screen. IPS LCDs certainly aren’t magically produced in recent days, and have been around in many displays for awhile (though at a heavy price). The difference in sharpness though is evident and a majority of users will notice the difference.

The Droid Incredible, Nexus One, and EVO 4G are all made by HTC, so you’ll find some similar aspect to them across the board. All of the phone sports Google’s Android operating system, and in essence is much more “open” in respective to what an end-user and developer can do to the phone. On the other hand, with an iPhone, you’ll be subjected to certain restrictions Apple/AT&T may place on the device (e.g., though the hardware is fully capable, you will not be able to tether your iPhone 4 to an iPad). It’s a personal preference on what type of experience you prefer and enjoy. While many users and developers may dislike Apple’s App Store environment and policy (I’m personally one of them), the average user can certainly appreciate a user experience that’s tightly controlled to engineer the best possible experience — with the recently announced news of 600,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 (even though with the heavy glitch and server meltdown), there’s obviously a heavy demand for Apple’s latest smartphone. Feel free to check the links after the comparison graphic below for more detail on each respective phones!

More Links and Resources:

CNET’s coverage on the Apple iPhone 4. A decent, well-rounded review on the EVO 4G from CNET. Engadget’s Droid Incredible review (in brief, it was one of the best Android phone offering right before the release of EVO 4G). You’ll find a nice consolidation of review from PC World on Google’s Nexus One.

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{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

reknaw June 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

Everyone here assumes that 200Mb of data is a worthless option. That is far from the case. I checked my iphone 3g data usage for the past few months. 400Mb, 60Mb, 50Mb, 30Mb, 300Mb. I have wifi at work and home. 200Mb per month will do fine for me most of the time. Occasionally I will get hit for another $10 if I go over. On the months where I am under, I save $15 compared to the unlimited plan. On the months I go over 200Mb, I still save $5. Over a year, I will easily save $150.
I realize you have to compare apples to apples on a chart, but don’t discount the value ATT is making available with their low end data plan. Public pressure might also convince ATT to start a rollover thing with data like they do with voice minutes.


Dan June 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

Your minimum cost is misleading. You do state that it is “minimum cost with unlimited texting”, but that isn’t really the same as the minimum cost. Minimum means the very least you have to pay. With the iPhone, the minimum plan available is $54.99, which makes a $480 difference in the total cost of ownership. That’s what you should show in the chart. You can state “no messaging included” under the cost to be clear you are getting something different.

Not everybody uses SMS though and to bias the MINIMUM cost by so much isn’t really fair. Instead of saying “why doesn’t AT&T include texting like the other carriers?”, perhaps the question should be “Why don’t the other carriers have a plan that is as low cost as AT&T for those who want fewer features?”


n1 June 23, 2010 at 11:14 am

+1 what Idiot said

I bought an unsubsidized Nexus One so that I could get the cheaper plan as it’s cheaper, even taking into consideration the time value of money, plus no contract. The T-Mobile Even More Plus talk+text+web gives me 500 minutes and unlimited text/data for $59/month.


Steve June 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

You said “Note: We’re considering changing AT&T’s minimum data plan to the 2 GB offering instead of the 200 MB plan to better match competitor’s offering,” but then your graphic says the minimum plan price is with 200MB, not 2GB…..which is it?


phinn June 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Yea the whole thing for AT&T is wrong. It should be $69.99 for: 450 minutes, rollover minutes, unlimited mobile-mobile, 2GB data, and 200 text messages. ($39.99 + $25 + $5)

Wow this makes the iPhone 4 by the best deal on the market.


brad j June 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

except the i phone 4 dosn’t get any service


Reuben June 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

Says Who? Popular Opinion? You would base a $2,000+ dollar investment on popular opinion instead of what is best for you? Go ahead if you want and do that if you want, but I will be laughing when I spend the lowest total cost on my iPhone 4 over two years, which in this chart is misrepresented and should be $55 a month, and have all that extra cash for the next round of phones or something better like a savings account. I say this because that is the purpose of this comparison right? To shrink your bills and allow you to see what is the cheapest option? Maybe I am wrong but that is what the websites name invokes to me.


Michael August 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Sounds like you’re spending your own ~$2000 investment with the “lowest total cost” that you wont really take advantage of. I guess that means you wont do any texting at all? You’ll be sure to watch your data and if you ever call any non-AT&T-cellular number to watch your minutes, too? :)
My personal experiences with AT&T over many years were awful and part of what I pay Sprint is for peace of mind (I can stream music all day every day, I can text all day long, I can call my friends on any network at any time of the day, etc. etc.).

Just a thought.

Dan June 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

The minimum cost plan for the iPhone is $54.99. Not everybody wants SMS messaging and AT&T provides a less expensive plan that omits this feature. Why don’t the other carriers offer that choice?

Rather than trying to equalize the plans for the Minimum cost comparison, you should show the actual lowest cost plan. Under the plan cost, you can show what is included in the plan.


JPig July 5, 2010 at 5:35 am

The SMS messages cost the carrier NOTHING. The 180(ish) characters are riding piggy back on the fact that your phone is periodically talking to the base stations in the area.


DF June 23, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Of course, this goes without saying, but the cost of apps needs to be taken into account as well. This chart is somewhat useful for the basics, but if you factor in app costs, you could run up to an extra $20 – $40 a year with the iphone, where you might get the same offering for free on android.

Not a huge cost, but keep in mind iphone locks you into using itunes as well, and if you aren’t an itunes user like myself, that can be a deal breaker right away.

Also, I laugh at apple and their app approving process. The actual amount of useful apps is considerably less for both sides of the table, however at least Android has decent google voice, if that’s what you’re searching for in a phone. But that’s just my two cents.


Phroztbyt3 June 23, 2010 at 3:41 pm

You have to remember something else that puts Sprint back in the game. Unlimited calling to any cell on any network. So its not fair to go minimum plan of sprint vs att. Truth be told, its incredibly hard to judge what service to use by what phone you are gonna get.

It should be the other way around. Get service first (depending on what you really need) and then go for the phone. Its obvious by the chart that androids and apple phones are very similar in productivity… so really the comparison is pointless.

Thus.. the apple fanboy or the guy who buys apple cus his friend told him to, will continue to get apple.. and android will be for those who think outside of the box ;)


Adam June 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm

If we really want to get bare minimum, eliminating SMS in lieu of a Google Voice account (SMS to e-mail), keeping an “unlimited” data plan, and the lowest voice option, here are the real break downs:

AT&T: $64.99
- Voice: $39.99
- Data: $25.00
- 24 month total: $1559.76

Verizon: $69.98
- Voice: $39.99
- Data: $29.99
- 24 month total: $1679.52

Sprint: $69.99 (+$10 for 4G phones) (No option to exclude SMS)
- Bundle: $69.99 (voice, text, data)
- 24 month total: $1679.76 ($1919.76 with 4G phone)

T-Mobile: $79.99 ($59.99 if you buy the phone at full retail price)
- Bundle: $79.99 (voice, text, data)
- 24 month total: $1919.76 ($1439.76 without subsided phone)

If you already have an unlocked phone, T-Mobile will be the cheapest option. However, AT&T offers the best price point if you’re going to lock into a 2-year contract with the equipment purchase. If you were really looking to save money, you could drop the data on AT&T to 200MB and cut $240 over 2-years, making it $1319.76.


Gee June 23, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Nope, Sprint has this locked down as far as value goes. It’s easy to get a EPRP plan for $59.99 which includes:

500 minutes with unlimited mobile to mobile on any carrier
True unlimited data
Unlimited SMS

Add the $10 EVO/4G fee and you got a near unlimited $69.99 plan. So unless you make a ton of business or land line calls in general, then you got a cheap bullet proof plan.


Anonymous June 26, 2010 at 5:57 am

Not Sure why people don’t consider Sprints mobile to mobile plan as an unlimited plan if your really calling land lines that much your living in the stone age. Sprint is almost $50 cheaper per month I have the Evo and I only pay 79.99 for unlimited everything except land lines. Iphone is cheaper? really… get your facts straight! Gee your right one the money.


BillShrink Guy June 24, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Superb breakdown Adam. Going to highlight this comment once I can get around the comment highlight plugin snafu.


Venessa Blythe June 23, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Have you folks seen the scatter tech INFOGRAPHIC? it doesnt have prices but it does go over all the specs. it is evo vs iphone 4 vs. droid x — http://skattertech.com/2010/06/infographic-evo-4g-vs-iphone-4-vs-droid-x/


Ken Corey June 24, 2010 at 1:20 am

I don’t know if this is possible in the states, but in the UK this is a *much* better plan:
1) Buy the phone sim-free. I bought the Nexus One – $600
2) O2 in the UK offers a plan called ‘Simplicity’. It’s a sim-only, month-to-month, low voice, low text, unlimited data plan for £17 (call it $25) per month. over 24 months: $600.

There are no other costs.

Viola! $1200, significantly beating all the “offers” above.

Considering the source is “Apple, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon”, I’m not surprised they’d want to publicise the vastly more expensive option.

Gotta love phone companies.



pp6 June 24, 2010 at 6:30 am

iPhone’s multitasking is a lie.

It should read “NO” with no further clarification.


dan June 24, 2010 at 8:35 am

What I don’t get is that under the Evo you fail to mention that the $79 plan includes UNLIMITED mobile minutes. In addition it includes free navigation though you could argue that since google maps has voice turn by turn directions now that point is moot for any Android device.

But come on, how can you not mention the fact that you get unlimited mobile minute under Sprint.


BTHolbrook June 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

And AT&T charges $6.95 for GPS and it’s included with Sprint. That adds another $168 to the price, if you want the feature.


Sam Worther June 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

This has INCORRECT numbers! Sprint’s 2 year plan is $900 less than Apple’s! $79.99 * 24 = $1919.76 + the phone ($179) = 2098.76, NOT $2449!!

Instead you tried to unethically skew the numbers towards the iPhone! The iPhone’s unlimited plan uses a 2 year contract, so why doesn’t the Sprint one? Shoddy work.


BillShrink Guy June 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Sam, I think you’re reading down the wrong section (you’re looking at the Nexus One). Evo 4G is still $199 (after $100 mail-in-rebate) from Sprint, last we checked.


Stephen June 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Nice post… can’t please everyone… this chart gets across the basics of any plan….
I’d like to point out a problem I found with the questionaire for wireless services… on the question asking what type of phone, you have the option of putting a specific phone, the HTC eVO 4G isn’t listed, and the fact that this phone has an extra charge would kind of make the bill comparisons skewed…is this gonna be added?


BillShrink Guy June 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Stephen, thanks for the note. The EVO 4G should be added to our app database shortly, along with the iPhone 4. For now though you can just specify Sprint as the carrier of your choice and basically just consider +$10/month to the result you see. I know this isn’t ideal yet and I apologize for that.


CBF June 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm

This is actually inaccurate. It fails to take into account other associated items that the consumer might otherwise ordinarily pay for (e.g., applications, music, and accessories(including additional monthly costs for the use of the accessories)).


Gib June 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Hi, I always love these graphics.

But the T-Mobile minimum isn’t quite right — it’s possible to get T-mobile unlimited data and 500 minutes without texting — it’s basically $5 less to do it that way. Since Android phones are all natively Google Voice capable, any Android phone available on a network that has data+voice with a discount for no messaging will drop for the minimum.

The Sprint unlimited cell to cell option is pretty amazing.

And I agree with the multi-tasking critique from other commenters. The reviews of multi-tasking show Apple’s version lacks a lot of what Android does (I think, technically, Android’s isn’t fully computer multi-tasking, but is closer than Apple’s by far).

Last, the Nexus One should probably get TWO columns for pricing, because the plans available between going on contract and off contract are really quite different. That would probably also help people see the advantage of paying full price for a phone on T-Mobile.


Connie June 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm

This is good information, but doesn’t take into consideration other items such as:
Sharing text messaging and minutes with other phones on your family plan
Rollover minutes on a minimum (or minimal) plan with AT&T
Cost of data connection with one’s previous smart phone
Discounts available through affinity organizations

We have 4 phones (2 of which are iPhones) on our family plan. Total cost increase when we added the iPhones was only $22 per month. I’d already had a data plan with a prior smart phone, so having two data plans, plus my employer discount only cost me about $22 more per month.


Tom Simpson June 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Why do you have unlimited text messages in the “minimum plan” column? Not all of us are 14 year old girls and texting billions. A better comparison would be the 200 message plans on the carriers.

Plus with the tight Google Voice integration, I actually don’t have a text message plan on my Droid Incredible at all, and get free unlimited text messages to & from the phone. So I’m not paying a dime for text messaging.


Anonymous June 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

Maybe a Cost/GB number would be more usable given AT&T’s switch and Verizon’s mention of looking to go to a similar model?


lgryphon June 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

This is an interesting comparison. I think it is right to exclude the somewhat intangible “free” minutes all the carriers offer in various ways. I also agree that you can’t drop the SMS and still have a fair comparison; keep it in the comparison. Trying to determine apps, music, etc., is too personal. This is just a comparison of the basic cost to own. There is also no monetery way to take into account the iTunes headaches. Which I use and fully understand.
But I would like to see a few things added in the next installment…

1- AT&T is offering a few Android phones (the Aria and someday the Captivate). TMO is bringing out their version of the Samsung Galaxy S (the Vibrant) in July. And the Droid X comes out for Verizon at about the same time. Add them to the next list as well.
2- This is great if you only have one smart phone. What about multiples? I have several for my family, all on a single carrier now (though I have had multiple carriers)


BillShrink Guy July 17, 2010 at 12:58 am

Thanks for the suggestions lgryphon and sorry for the late reply. Bunch of comments got queued up in the spam filter. We’re planning a breakdown of the various Samsung Galaxy X variant and it’ll be much easier in that regard to compare as it’ll mostly be the same type of phone with same features.

We’ll definitely considering a smartphone cost ownership breakdown for family plans in the near future.


Kathie Canterberry July 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

The 200 meg data plan is lots for surfing and gps use. I am having trouble using over 160 megs a month with my iPhone. I have 1GB which is part of a plan that I am pretty much stuck with because of my needs. Rogers in Canada does make it easy to get on a basic plan with unlimited text. I am stuck in a 3 year contract with them now, which I am considering going to court to break, as they have messed up my plan 6 times, and keep having to refund me for hundreds of dollars worth of text messages. The last refund was over $450. I am pleased they are willing to refund the charges, but WHY does this keep happening. It makes one wonder if they make things difficult so people who are busy will not have time to follow up and fix things, and will just pay their bill.

SMS text should be included free with any package offered, it costs the carriers nothing, and is becoming a new communications standard. 14 year old girls do use it a lot, I have 1 and I pay for her phone, last month she sent 2467 text messages and received 1865. I usually am around the 600 mark, I wish I had more time to talk to people. I am 29, I use SMS for business, for talking to friends I don’t have time to keep in touch with any other way, and many other things. If you don’t like SMS, you likely either don’t have a smart phone, or can’t type on it. It is the reason I bought the iPhone. I have installed 2 apps in 6 months. Skype and Google earth. Both free.
The plans are all over priced IMHO and they do not offer enough options for tayloring the plan to your needs. Sprint looks like the best, but sadly they don’t have coverage in New Brunswick.

This is a really emotional issue!



Abraham V. July 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm

This is obviously a one-sided comparison.

BillShrink is obviously going for ATT and biased for Apple.

Sprint will carry the most bang for your buck and it’s cheaper! Compare plans the way the phone was meant to be used, not by comparing a fully feature-loaded Evo on Sprint with a *I can only touch it and try to make calls iPhone* on ATT.

TERRIBLE comparisons. Compare what you’re getting for each and give credit where it need be given.

I know Sprint doesn’t offer plans without this and that, but compare them all with 400 or 450 minutes, unlimited text, unlimited web(or 2GB capped), unlimited GPS, early nights and weekend (7pm) and the mobile to mobile capabilities.

Sprint takes this cake by far. Do it on ATT with the same options and you’re shelling out roughly $120.oo a month, while on Sprint you’re only paying 79.99 a month.

Do this right.


Erik Chang July 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm

We don’t have any particular leaning towards any particular carrier. I still find it slightly amazing that within the same post there are comments for leaning towards AT&T or biased against AT&T/Apple. In fact, if you read the specific notes in the post, you’ll find that I was personally very much against AT&T’s current tier data rate (or at least, in its current offering). Though I’ve tried all of the phones listed above, personally, I’ve been a BlackBerry owner for half a decade and the next device will most likely be an Android one…


Amanda, IL November 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Reply to- Author, Erik: My contract is up with a carrier I’ve been with for over 8yrs. & although I’ve been very happy with USCellular’s service, coverage (NEVER even one dropped call), plan prices, etc. I wanted to look into my options for pre-paid vs. contract as well as different Android options, before deciding to renew. In starting some comparisons, I found this site & your post. Don’t get me wrong, a lot were nice, but unlike SO many posts that were flat-out rude & quite unappreciative, I’d like to personally thank you for taking your time.. to provide me with the above info. It’s shocking to see so many negative &/or insulting responses~ when all you’re doing is trying to help save people time. People, might I add- that you don’t even know, that frankly, you aren’t required to help- in any way!! OMG, whether it’s 100% accurate (cuz everyone else is SO perfect, right?) or not; you’ve given me, at least, a great starting point! I do realize this is an older posting & that a LOT more plans as well as devices have come out since then. I also realize that my current provider isn’t even included (it’s ok.. Not being a Top5 carrier, it usually isn’t listed) In saying that..This still gives me a good comparison of the other carriers & some of the “still top-of-the-heap” devices! You’ve provided me with a lot of valuable information that I know will save me a bunch of research time! =) No, I can’t make up for anyone elses lack of common courtesy or appreciation~ But personally, would like to thank you very much for taking time out of your day to create this comparison & for the valuable information you’ve provided all of us with.
I guess it’s true when they say,.. “ya just can’t please everyone” =) lol ~Thanks again, Eric.


jz khan November 24, 2010 at 7:39 am

i am using Tmobile and i never had a problem……tmobilre is the best


vishal December 21, 2010 at 7:27 am

This is out of date. They should update/ release a new one atleast every 3 months.
Tmobile minimum plan would have 10$/200MB data & 49.99/500min,text, which comes out to 1640!!!(60*24+200(nexus S))
25% cheaper than iphone 4 plan.
for unlimited it’ll be 70+30, which is still about 15% cheaper than iphone 4 plan


Jeff March 19, 2011 at 4:56 am

No one can present a perfect comparison because there is debate over even the slightest nuances. Everyone’s needs, preferences, and locality dictates what works for them.
Nice chart for getting users to think. New users thinking in terms of overall cost, what a novel concept (unlikely). If someone has a trusted maven to advise them it is a good start. Most carriers let you make changes in your plan to keep you using what’s best for you with what they offer. Thank god tha there is finally all this competition in phones and carriers. I remember the days of $75.00 a month with no anything and dropped calls or no coverage at all was the norm with Bell Atlantic Mobile (Vz original wireless name).
Being in and around the tech field for over 30 years, I’ve had my opinions evolve from hacking enthusiast in PC land to father of teen girls that if I don’t get them something that just works, I will be working at home as much as at work. Without sounding like an apple switch commercial, I manage over 600 macs like they were one machine and I like a phone that rarely needs me to do anything but enter a password.
The only choice was iPhone after waiting for Verizon to wise up. They didn’t so I did.
I have a Vz family plan because FIOS quad makes a 5 phone family plan with unlimited text and 1100 min shared tolerable at 140 dollars for the phone part. I’ve got another line on my father’s plan for one of my kids also on Vz to keep free m2m for the family plus the dedicated 10 numbers off network and then me on ATT with a solid 70 per month with unlimited data 450 and rollovers that stickup every month. I hate both Verizon and ATT but don’t have much choice. 140 40 70 the family texts with no data and I do all data and never go over my 200 text by using email to text or wifi. iPhone 4 sins great with my web and personal galleries while syncing calendar with alarms effortlessly. ATT issues from day one with porting from Verizon first hurdle. Most issues cleared up after first 6 months with first 3G but the calls to voicemail with no ring still happen on occasion. No dropped call problem though.
Gotta go with what works for you. I get a kick out of all those senior citizens with Droids asking how to use there phone.


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