Let the price wars begin. There have been some price reductions for the price of the iPhone 5 up front, however, over time you will still pay over $2000 for your iPhone unless you go for a prepaid option (see chart, bel0w).
Formerly, we seldom saw a price drop anywhere for the iPhone 4S or 5 with contracts, Walmart over the weekend cut the in-store-only price of the iPhone 5 down to $129.99 and the iPhone 4S down to $39.99 with contracts for AT&T, Sprint or Verizon Wireless.
This pricing is very attractive to those who bought original iPhones when they used to be launched in June. However, many are waiting for the next version of the iPhone 5, possibly the iPhone 5S with dual-led flash.
These price cuts have never been seen before. So what could this mean? The competition is heating up. It also means the iPhone has come to masses. Is this the cheapest way to go? At first is seems like a bargain, but over time the premium carriers are costly. You may not have to go to Walmart to get the deal because Best Buy matches prices.
Customers, however may save $60 up front but in the long run prepaid plans are cheaper over time. Walmart's own Straight Talk is cheaper for the iPhone 5 over time. Virgin Mobile will be start offering the iPhone 5 next week and our pre-calculations show it to be the cheapest and with the highest discount.
Comparing plans can be very confusing to make the job easier, we rounded off all plans and prices. We found the most compatible plans across the board the main differences were in the number of voice minutes included. (see chart below).
The most common iPhone 5 plan from Verizon is $100($60 2GB data $40 voice/text) the closest T-Mobile plan is $60 a month with more data(2.5GB), unlimited voice and text.
The cost of the iPhone 5 from AT&T is more complicated because you can still buy 450 minute plans with 300MB of data for $20 a month or 3GB of data( for $30 a month unlimited text messaging is $20 a month. The closest match without unlimited voice is $90 a month (see chart below click to view full size).
Straight Talk claims it offers unlimited data, but in fact, warns those who use "too much data" that they may be terminated.
If you look at the chart you will see over time Straight Talk 's iPhone 5 over two years will cost the least and is the cheapest. We will be exploring other pre-pay option comparisons when Virgin Mobile is launched.
T-Mobile total cost is $2070, Sprint Unlimited Data is $2050, AT&T costs $2490 Verizon 2GB run $2520 Straight Talk by the month is 1729 Straight Talk paid yearly is $1639.
This price strategy brings Sprint and T-Mobile closer in pricing. We assume no other discounts apply, you may be able to get some trade-in value for your existing phone, separately.
The next decision after price is carrier and speeds. Verizon is rated highest in the Los Angeles while Sprint is new to deploy LTE. Straight Talk does not reveal what carrier network they are using.