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Besides looking for the newest in gadgets and phones, I’m also always looking for a new way to save money. Always. I’ve seen and used a lot of “deal” and coupon sites and I’d like to pride myself with the thought that I budget my money quite well. But we all need help. My biggest problem though is that I’m not always aware of the best bill plan or how I could save a few dollars despite being quite aware of what’s new hardware-wise.
I had the lucky chance to quickly ask a few questions to the co-founder of BillShrink, Samir Kothari about the two biggest things going on in communication at this moment: the T-Mobile/Google/HTC G1 and the Apple iPhone 3G and how you might save a few dollars and his expert opinion about the iPhone 3G versus the G1.
A lot of users already own an iPhone 3G, if not the first generation iPhone. The total cost of ownership for these phones is much higher than the advertised, subsidized costs. What are the total cost of ownership for each for the subsidized two year ownership of an iPhone 3G versus a T-Mobile G1?
Samir: We agree whole-heartedly with your statement on the total cost of ownership (TCO) for these phones being much higher than just the initial price of the device.Thanks to the expanded subsidy from AT&T with the launch of the 3G iPhone, the prices of the devices themselves are pretty comparable ($180 vs. $200) with the slight edge going towards the T-Mobile G1. But the overwhelming factor in TCO is the cost of the service plan that the user has to pay each month over the typical 24-month contract term.
Generally speaking, the T-Mobile G1 also has the advantage in this regard, because T-Mobile pricing tends to be lower than AT&T.
To illustrate by example, a G1 data plan providing unlimited data and text messaging will cost $35 per month, whereas an iPhone data plan with unlimited data/messaging will cost $50 per month. A $15 per month differential works out to $360 over the course of a 2 year contract, and that is pretty significant compared to the cost of phone itself.
But the above statements are generic; in reality the true cost of one service plan vs the other is very dependent on a user’s specific usage pattern. For example, if I happen to use a lot of minutes calling friends who are also on AT&T, since those minutes are free mobile-to-mobile calls when using an iPhone from AT&T but would be charged as “anytime minutes” on a T-Mobile G1, it could very well be the case that AT&T is the better deal for me.
It can get pretty complicated to make the right choice, which is exactly why BillShrink offers a service to help users find the best plans for their individual usage. To compare personalized plan choices for the iPhone and G1, users can use this resource:
Does having a physical keyboard versus the virtual keyboard make that much of a difference? How did you find the comparison between the two?
Samir: Well I think this is really a matter of personal preference, but in my opinion the physical keyboard does make a big difference. Any new keyboard takes awhile to get used to, but I feel more comfortable manipulating the physical keys with tactile feedback rather than tapping on the iPhone screen.
Again, really depends on personal preference, but especially for heavy mobile emailers, the G1 has an advantage.
The speed of the UI is a major factor. Would you say that the T-Mobile lags or “keeps up” or surpasses the Apple iPhone 3G UI?
Samir: In our testing thus far, I think the T-Mobile UI keeps-up with the iPhone.
Bluetooth tethering and A2DP… iPhone allows neither. What about the G1?
Samir: Same as the iPhone, the G1 doesn’t support those features.
Camera functions – could you describe if the camera in the Apple iPhone in terms of quality and speed from selecting the camera to actual being able to snap a picture?
Samir: Using the cameras on both phones is pretty comparable in terms of ease-of-use. The camera is one particular feature where the G1 outshines the iPhone, with a better resolution (3.2 megapixels vs 2 megapixels) and better focusing as well.
Build quality… the pictures make it look very “plasticky”. True, false?
Samir: Feels like it is pretty well built. It has more moving parts than the iPhone (with the slider) which makes it less “solid” but still quality feels fine.
Reception – the iPhone has been vilified for it’s reception. Care to compare it’s reception with the G1?
Samir: We haven’t had enough talk time around town with the G1 yet to fully compare its reception, but so far, both phones seem comparable. Our feeling is that the most important factor is the quality of your carrier’s network where you live, as that tends to be more impactful than the device itself.
So when deciding between these phones, be sure to review the respective signal strengths between AT&T and T-Mobile on BillShrink.com. You can view a detailed map in many areas around the country that show a visual comparison of network coverage, and even identify potential dead spots on your daily commute path.
What about Mobile Chrome versus Mobile Safari? Which one to you personally “feels” better and why? Flash support up to date? Or is it a workaround like Apple’s H.264 enabled YouTube converted videos?
Samir: Actually both browsers feel about the same, which is not surprising because they are both based on the same WebKit foundation, and therefore the page rendering is quite similar. One notable difference is that you can’t pinch to zoom on the G1 because there is no support for multi-touch like there is on the iPhone.
I think the G1 uses the same H.264 codec that the iPhone uses to play YouTube instead of supporting true Flash.
Ok… copy and paste. Please let it be there… is it?
Samir: Yes, there is copy/paste on the G1, much to the dismay of iPhone fans everywhere!
Any little issues with the G1 that annoy you that you think are invariably going to be addressed in forthcoming updates? The virtual keyboard is already coming. What else do you think is upcoming that’s going to make people want to go out, run get this phone? GrandCentral connectivity perhaps?
Samir: I think the key to the G1 success is the vision for a big, vibrant marketplace around Android applications. If Google is able to get the developer community excited about building apps and contributing to the Android marketplace, that could go a long way to getting users talking about new and cool applications that drive them to get the phone…
So… where are the other Android enabled phones?
Samir: So lots of speculation about where the next Android phone(s) will be coming from, but nothing confirmed as far as we’ve heard. LG, Motorola, and Samsung are already part of the Open Handset Alliance, so perhaps expect to see some activity from them. And perhaps another offering from HTC as well…
Do you feel as if Google got this one “right”?
Samir: The Android Platform is a pretty interesting and ambitious initiative for Google. And I think they are on the right track. Google has been quite successful in getting developers to build upon their APIs (think about the thousands of apps out there using Google Maps) and I suspect they should be able to leverage that experience in building a community around their mobile platform.
Open tends to beat closed in the long run, and having a deep-pocketed sponsor like Google, give Android a good chance of changing the game.
For the uninitiated…
BillShrink is a unique, free online service that saves consumers money by making continuously updated, personalized, usage-based recommendations on everyday services with very complex bills and offerings that change frequently.
BillShrink’s patent-pending technology automatically monitors millions of rate plan/feature combinations, and matches them against individual consumers’ usage patterns, providing simple, apples to apples comparisons and updated money saving recommendations on an ongoing basis as changes occur.
And about BillShrink’s co-founder:
Samir is a co-founder of BillShrink and manages product development by maintaining a constant dialogue with users and tailoring the product to meet their needs. He previously led product management and strategy for TrialPay, a fast-growing company at the intersection of online advertising and digital payments.
Samir had previously worked at BEA Systems, where he headed product marketing for WebLogic Workshop and played a key role in launching the WebLogic Platform. He also worked as a product manager with Microsoft. Samir also spent several years working as a venture capitalist with Battery Ventures and Summit Partners, focusing on investments in software and consumer Internet companies.
Samir graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Computer Science and an AB in Economics. He also received an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Millar Scholar.
I want to thank Samir for taking the time to explain not only his expert opinion about the T-Mobile G1, but also about BillShrink.com. Found out tonight that I could actually be saving a few dollars on my plan.
The Internet has come a long way since its inception. There are now several different ways to get an internet connection. One can do this by inserting wireless internet card in computer or can use DSL. Apart from this, internet phones and ip phones are there as well to help people connect internet through phones. Internet telephony is not the last option available, wireless internet providers are there as well to offer internet connectivity.