AT&T does good: iPhone voice/data plan pricing.

AT&T and Apple announced their plan rates for the iPhone today. A chart listing all the options is here.

When AT&T announced that there would be special plans for the iPhone, a lot of people thought that maybe this meant there would be some price gouging, but if anything the reality is otherwise.

The plans are just as competitive, perhaps more so, than other smartphone plans. They all include: unlimited data (web and email); 200 SMS text messages; unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes; visual voice mail; and rollover minutes. Further, all but the least expensive include unlimited night and weekend minutes (the least expensive allows 5,000, which is still pretty generous).

You can bump SMS text messages to 1,500 for $10.

The only real differentiator between plans is the call minutes. Allowing rollover may allow some flexibility here, but $60 gets you 450 minutes plus everything above. That’s far better than I though the lowest plan would be (I expected $80 minimum, and wasn’t sure about unlimited data).

They also have family plans. The lowest family plan is a shared 700 minutes for $110 for two phones ($80 base, and then $30 for each additional phone). Jon Gruber at Daring Fireball commented on this:

“a family plan for two iPhone is barely cheaper than two individual plans, and includes fewer total minutes and SMS messages.”

I believe he’s referring to getting two of the least expensive plans above. At $60 each the total would be $120 with 900 total minutes. I believe he’s also assuming that the 200 SMS messages in the family plan are shared as well, but the tables I’ve seen do not say that.

The point being made is that for only $10 more you would have 200 more regular minutes (remember, though, that night and weekend is 5,000, not unlimited). However, those 900 minutes are not shared, and that’s the real key to a family plan. One person talks maybe 100 minutes, and the other 600. With two singles you end up wasting minutes on one and paying for extra on the other. Unless every person on the plan uses the same minutes as each other, a family plan that “pools” the minutes is absolutely the way to go.

I’m impressed by these plans and, as Roughly Drafted points out, the iPhone turns out to be less expensive as some other smartphones being bragged about for low prices.

[UPDATE:] Engadget compared the iPhone plans to other smartphones. Their summation:

“those worried that your iPhone will cost you a lot more in service fees than you’d pay otherwise, worry not. You’re (obviously) going to pay more for the device itself, but the iPhone plans are totally fair, based on AT&T’s current pricing scheme.”

A nice assessment from a site that’s not known for being Apple-friendly.

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