So-called affordable mobile phone options from name providers are becoming a trend, with at least three deals coming to the market in the last month. The offers are enticing and provide special device and plan pricing, but are they worth it? "Prosumers" should add up all expenses before buying.
T-Mobile will offer the BlackBerry Curve 9315 starting Jan. 23. The cost is $49.99 plus $200 over twenty months (equal installments), in addition to a two-year voice and data agreement.
The new low-end smartphone, called "the most affordable BlackBerry on the T-Mobile network," is actually the old Curve 9310, which launched in July 2012. Like its predecessor, only 3G is available. Powered by the BlackBerry 7.1 operating system, the phone features a 3.2 megapixel rear camera, a microSD storage expansion slot, a 320×240 164ppi display and 512MB of RAM.
The product release is due right before the BlackBerry 10 launch
, set for Jan. 30 at several worldwide locations. And though BlackBerry 10 will certainly pricier, do mobile employees really want to pay for last year's technology with the lower 3G? If data transfer is a huge part of the mobile workday, it makes little sense to want to slow that down.
In addition, T-Mobile has just recently started offering unlimited data, no-contract plans for $70 a month. The plan works with a range of phones ranging in price from $149 to $549.
Apple is not exactly known for it's affordable options, though there is talk of a cheaper iPhone mini.
In the meantime, on the low-cost spectrum, Walmart and Straight Talk are offering a $45 no-contract, unlimited plan with special financing on two particular iPhones.
The 16GB black and white iPhone 5 is priced at $649, while the black and white 8 GB iPhone 4 is available for $449. Each can be purchased for $25 a month through financing by GE Capital Retail Bank.
The $45 no contract monthly plan offers unlimited nationwide talk, text and Data. The $60 no contract monthly plan offers the same in addition to unlimited international calling to more than 1,000 destinations.
On the face of it, these deals might seem like a great deal to the budget conscious consumer, but how does it help a mobile employee who needs constant access to data and communication? It doesn’t. Straight Talk is a second tier provider with little access to its own network. That could severely limit coverage areas and affect reception quality, not an enabler of business processes.