My last iPhone was a 5S and my mobile phone contract was due when iPhone 6s was out in the stores. I refused to renew and buy the 6s because I did not want to be trapped in the ‘s’ year forever.
I wanted to tide over the ‘s’ year and buy an iPhone 7 Plus.
A new telco, Circles Life, launched a service without any contract that would have tied down the consumer. I jumped at the chance to sign up with it because it was almost half of what I used to pay for my monthly phone bills. I chose the base plan which had 100 mins and 4GB of data for just $28! I do not mind having zero SMS allowance and happy to just pay per use since I rarely SMS nowadays. Data is the main draw.
iPhone 7 is out now. The question I had was to decide whether I should buy the phone at full price and stick with Circles Life, or should I go with a telco contract to get the phone at a cheaper price.
I decided to do some number crunching to see which is a cheaper option.
First, I found out that M1 offers the cheapest cost of ownership (phone price + 24 months subscription fee) compared to SingTel and StarHub across most of the plans. Thanks to HardwareZone for the information. So I will use M1 to compare with Circles Life.
Circles Life also happened to be tapping on the M1 network to deliver her services. Hence, it makes my comparison fairer since the signal coverage and call quality are similar.
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I will compare the cost of ownership over 2 years as it is the standard contract length. I will add on the cost in Circles Life to match the outgoing call minutes and data among the M1 plans. I will ignore the SMS since I do not use it at all. The add-on rates for Circles Life are as follows.
I will use iPhone 7 Plus and not iPhone 7 since I prefer the larger screen of the former.
Comparison #1 (200mins + 3GB plan)
i-Lite+ is the decent data plan which M1 offers at $42/mth. To match the 200 mins and 3GB data, I have to add $4 to the Circles Life base plan, which end up at $32/mth. Over the course of 2 years, including the initial phone price to pay, M1 edged out minimally $253 cheaper. See the chart below for the various iPhone 7 Plus models.
Comparison #2 (300mins + 4GB plan)
The next higher tier plan is M1 i-Reg which cost $62/mth. To match this plan, I have to add 200 mins of outgoing call to Circles Life and the monthly fee would end up at $36. Although Circles Life seems cheaper, the discount on the handset offered by M1 was significant to lower the cost of ownership. It was at least cheaper by $69 if you go with this M1 plan.
Comparison #3 (400mins + 5GB plan)
M1 i-Reg+ packs more talktime and data than the previous i-Reg plan. The phone bill also increases to $82/mth. Matching this plan would cost $46/mth on Circles Life. You can see in the chart below that M1 still yields savings but has become very minimal.
Comparison #4 (800mins + 7GB plan)
The last plan that I am going to compare is i-Max from M1. It would cost $102/mth. The equivalent plan from Circles Life would cost $74/mth. If you have noticed, the trend of the price difference between M1 and Circles Life has been narrowing as we move up the price plans. However, in this comparison, the price difference diverged. You should definitely go with M1 if you want this tier of service, saving you at least $346!
My discovery is that it is worthwhile to get an iPhone 7 Plus with a mobile phone contract as the cost of ownership over the 2 years is lower. You would also noticed that the savings are larger with a contract if you are getting an iPhone with larger storage capacity.
Certain plans have more compelling discounts, such as the 200 mins and 800 mins plans. The middle plans have lower discounts to justify for the contract. Hence, if you are a light user like me, or a heavy user, it is cheaper for us to get the iPhone with a contract.