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What’s Cheaper? Unlocked iPhone 6 Prices vs Contracts Compared

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Screenshot 2014 09 15 16 06 52

Earlier this year we wrote an article comparing unlocked iPhone prices versus those on a carrier subsidized 2-year contract.

With Apple raising unlocked prices for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and even contract device prices, it’s time to revisit our post and update the numbers. What’s a better deal? Buying an iPhone 6 unlocked from Apple or signing a 2-year contract with Rogers, Telus, Bell, MTS or SaskTel?

Of course, the following scenarios have numerous variables—so your situation may vary. But if you replace our numbers with yours, you should be able to determine what works best for you.

Also, do note we’re making calculations based on our location in BC (and should apply everywhere except provinces with regional carriers), but we know those in SK, MB and QC can get better deals (we’re moving to your location soon).

Let’s take our own situation right now and calculate the numbers. Currently we are on Fido’s $56 Smart Plan offered a couple years ago with unlimited Canada-wide calling and 2GB of data ($10/GB overages).

My Scenario 1: Buying a subsidized iPhone 6 Plus from Fido on a 2-year contract, Tab24 Agreement, Max Plan

My monthly plan doesn’t meet Fido’s $60 minimum monthly requirement for grandfathered plans to upgrade to iPhone 6—so that means I’ll have to jump to a current ‘in-market’ Max Plan, starting at $80/mo with 500MB data, lowering my current bucket by 1.5GB, while paying $24 more in the process (!) if I wanted 2GB.

  • Fido 64GB iPhone 6 Plus: $485
  • $80 Max Plan with 500MB x 24 months ($10/500MB overages): $1920
  • Data overages to meet our 2GB requirement: $30 x 24 = $720
  • Hardware upgrade fee: $25
  • Unlocking fee: $50

Total cost: $3200 + tax or $133.33 per month

  • Fido 64GB iPhone 6: $375
  • $80 Max Plan with 500MB x 24 months ($10/500MB overages): $1920
  • Data overages to meet our 2GB requirement: $30 x 24 = $720
  • Hardware upgrade fee: $25
  • Unlocking fee: $50

Total cost: $3090 + tax or $128.75 per month

My Scenario 2: Buying an unlocked iPhone 6 from Apple

  • Unlocked 64GB iPhone 6 Plus: $959
  • $56 Smart Plan with unlimited Canada-wide minutes, 2GB data ($10/1GB overages): $56 x 24 months = $1344

Total cost: $2303 + tax or $95.96 per month; savings from buying unlocked: $897

  • Unlocked 64GB iPhone 6: $859
  • $56 Smart Plan with unlimited Canada-wide minutes, 2GB data ($10/1GB overages): $56 x 24 months = $1344

Total cost: $2203 + tax or $91.79 per month; savings from buying unlocked: $887

Fido says I won’t be able to get an additional 10% off for BYOD with my old plan because it’s not an ‘in-market’ Standard Plan.

Of course, my scenario will be different from yours, but you can just replace my numbers with yours to figure out your details.

As you can see, the unlocked savings in my scenario of either $897 and $997 works out close to a ‘free’ iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

Calculating Unlocked iPhone 6 vs Current 2-Year Plans for New or Existing Customers

Let’s do some math with new iPhone 6 contracts or hardware upgrades…

Scenario 1: Upgrading with a 2-year iPhone 6 contract with Rogers, Telus or Bell

Let’s just use the example of the 64GB iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which according to our unscientific poll are current popular choices. Carrier pricing on these models only differ by $5 or so, so modify these calculations as need be.

  • 64GB iPhone 6 Plus: $485
  • $80/month plan with 500MB (requirement): $80 x 24 months = $1920
  • New ‘connection charge’ fees: Rogers ($15); Fido ($0); Telus ($0), Bell ($15 promo)
  • Hardware upgrade fee: Rogers/Fido: $25; Telus: $0; Bell: $15 (promo)
  • Unlocking fee: Rogers/Fido ($50); Telus/Koodo ($35); Bell/Virgin ($50)

Total cost for upgrade (for new, add the connection charge): Rogers ($2480); Telus ($2440); Bell ($2470) + tax

  • 64GB iPhone 6: $375
  • $80/month plan with 500MB (requirement for 2-year terms): $80 x 24 months = $1920
  • New ‘connection charge’ fees: Rogers ($15); Fido ($0); Telus ($0), Bell ($15 promo)
  • Hardware upgrade fee: Rogers/Fido: $25; Telus: $0; Bell: $15 (promo)
  • Unlocking fee: Rogers/Fido ($50); Telus/Koodo ($35); Bell/Virgin ($50)

Total cost for upgrade (for new, add the connection charge): Rogers ($2370); Telus ($2330); Bell ($2360) + tax

Screenshot 2014 09 15 16 36 54

Scenario 2: Same as above but going month-to-month with an unlocked iPhone 6 on Rogers (with equivalent voice and 500MB plan) as a new user

In this scenario, you can choose Rogers, Telus or Bell plans to make these calculations. Let’s go with Rogers here as an example…

  • 64GB iPhone 6 Plus: $959
  • $70/month plan with 500MB ($15/300MB overages) x 24 months = $1680
  • 10% off for BYOD: $7 x 24 = -$168 in savings
  • New ‘connection charge’: $15

Total cost: $2486 (includes connection charge) + tax; savings vs contract: none–$6 more on Rogers. But on Telus, you save $9 since there’s no connection charge.

  • 64GB iPhone 6: $749
  • $70/month plan with 500MB ($15/300MB overages) x 24 months = $1680
  • 10% off for BYOD: $7 x 24 = -$168 in savings
  • New ‘connection charge’: $15

Total cost: $2276 (includes connection charge) + tax; savings vs contract: $94

Depending on your plan, going month-to-month unlocked might cost a few bucks more. But that’s the price of being ‘free’, getting the iPhone 6 on launch day (if you’re lucky and pre-ordered) and keeping your sanity by not having to deal with your carrier.

Scenario 3: Buying unlocked but going with the ‘cheapest’ possible plan with 500MB data, month-to-month (Fido)

In this scenario, we go with Fido for a plan with 500MB of data, but only 500 Canada-wide anytime minutes but 5PM evenings, a plan suitable for light users that are always within Wi-Fi range.

  • 64GB iPhone 6 Plus: $959
  • $45/month plan with 500MB: $45 x 24 = $1080
  • 10% off for BYOD: $4.50 x 24 = $108 in savings
  • New ‘connection’ charge: $0 from Fido

Total cost: $1931 + tax; works out to $80/month.

So as you can see, savings come with unlocked iPhone models used with cheaper monthly price plans thanks to BYOD discounts, or as a way to hold onto your legacy or grandfathered plan.

Fido is allowing grandfathered plans (i.e. $30/6GB data plans) that have a minimum $60/month (voice + data excluding add-ons) qualify for iPhone 6 upgrades on contract. Essentially any Max Plan with a $60 minimum qualifies.

Rogers and Bell on the other hand, are pushing existing and new users onto $80/month plans for iPhone 6 upgrades.

The bottom line: buying an unlocked iPhone can save you money in the long run but requires a higher cost up front. This post isn’t an end-all solution to every scenario, so do the math carefully and make a wise decision based on your situation.

For those starting out on new iPhone 6 contracts, we will soon be posting a comparison chart of Rogers, Telus and Bell prices with specific 2GB and 4GB shareable plans, which will show you the best carrier to jump on for new contracts. Stay tuned!

What’s the game plan for your iPhone 6 upgrade?

Update: If you’re using an unlocked iPhone on WIND Mobile or Mobilicity…your savings are even greater, but that comes at the cost of network coverage, depending on your location.

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