Buying a Mid-Range Android Phone vs an iPhone: The $1,239 question

As part of my series, VA/VE Cost Saving Projects, this post crunches the numbers to see how much you can save by using a mid-range Android phone with a discount carrier compared to a premium phone (iPhone/Samsung) on contract with Rogers/Bell/Telus.

People love iPhones and Samsung phones

Many of my friends love their iPhones. And why wouldn't they? They have great cameras, fast efficient hardware, a great ecosystem with iOS that can link multiple devices (Macbooks, iPads). Others love their Samsung Android phones. And again, why wouldn't they? Samsung makes more Smartphones than anyone else in the world and are the cutting edge leader and premium phone under the Android ecosystem. Most of the people I know that carry iPhones or Samsung phones are under contract at Rogers/Bell/Telus under premium plans.

This post explores another more cost efficient option: Buying a mid-range Android phone full price and using a BYOD (Bring your own device) plan at a discount cell carrier. 

My wife and I made this move earlier this year so here I show the numbers behind how going this route can save you money.

VAVEmemeSmartphone

 

Hardware

Let's not fool ourselves: when you buy an iPhone or Samsung through Rogers/Bell/Telus, the $70 to $360 you're paying for the device, is not the true cost. You are simply paying the remaining balance of the phone in the form of higher monthly charges over the 24 month contract. 

True cost of premium devices (as of Sept 2017 per Telus website):

iPhone 7: $915

Samsung S8: $1,035

My wife doesn't necessarily need the latest and greatest smartphone so we opted to buy a mid-range Android phone that has specs which rival slightly older iPhones/Samsungs. These mid-range phones are far less expensive as they do not have the same recognition and name brand as iPhones and Samsungs. These phone can be purchased through retailers such as Canada Computers, Newegg, Staples etc..

Examples of Mid-Range Android Phones Bought Outright and Unlocked

Asus Zenfone 3 Max: $200

ZTE Axon: $270

Motorola Moto G Play: $250 

 

Discount Smartphone Plans

Did you know that Rogers/Bell/Telus all own or are affiliated with discount brands/carriers? For example, Rogers owns Fido, Telus owns Koodo and Public Mobile. Depending on the discount carrier, you may be using the same network as the main carriers while paying less.

Pay less for the same service/coverage? Sign me up!

If you research the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) plans with these discount carriers, you will find that the savings can be significant. One of the most competitive plans is with Public Mobile which runs on the same network as Telus,

I researched Telus plans and found that the most adequate plan for my wife's needs (3GB of data per month) was $95/month if she went with a subsidized device on a contract. 

The Public Mobile plan that she just signed up for was $38/month for 4 GB of data per month). 

Comparison

To run a comparison, I assumed I was buying an iPhone 6s from Telus on a 2 year contract and compared it to buying an Asus Zenfone 3 Max using a Public Mobile's BYOD smartphone plan. The phones obviously are not the same but for my wife's needs, they would both function adequately. As previously mentioned, Public Mobile runs off the Telus network. 

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Based on some quick math, the savings for my wife are $1,239 for the 2 years that she would have been on contract with Telus. To us, the savings was worth going down this route. The numbers change however depending on what kind of a deal you can get and what promotions are available.

One Happy Android Family

As previously mentioned, some of my friends love their Apple products. The iOS ecosystem is very slick and allows them to share easily between their iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks. Since they are already invested in Apple products, it would be quite a change to move over to Android. I would consider many to be fully invested as a family to iOS. 

Our family, although we've had Apple products in the past, are used to Android products and are not stuck to the iOS ecosystem. With 3 kids growing up fast, the savings by making our family an 'Android' family can be amplified over the years. I'm not suggesting we will be purchasing Android phones for the kids when they are teens, but let's face it, at some point they will have a smartphone and have to make the decision on where the best value is.  As a household, that $1,239 savings per person would be multiplied by 5 (us and the kids)! And those savings would be every 2 years! 

 One Happy Android Family

One Happy Android Family

 

VA/VE Projects

I use a VA/VE (Value Analysis/Value Engineering) approach when it comes to many aspects my financial life. I particular am interested in finding projects that can save our family on expenses. Aside from this post on Smartphone plans, I've put together a few VA/VE projects which include:

VA/VE Project 1: Optimizing Credit Card Rewards

VA/VE Project 2: My 6 year old built and HD Antenna so we could cut cable TV

VA/VE Project 3: Eliminating Mutual Funds Fees by using ETFs

Do check out these articles!