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Poll: Would you recommend a contract-free iPhone


The iPhone 4 debuts on the 24th of June. I am one of the many users whose upgrade date falls after 1/1/11. Looking at the difference between no-commitment pricing and upgrade-date-after pricing, I've been considering the no-commitment option and coming up without many answers.

The math is not particularly compelling. AT&T's new smartphone early termination fee (ETF) is now running at $325, reducing at $10 per month. If I re-up with AT&T, the math becomes a wash after just over 12 months of use. The ETF goes down to $200, the actual price difference between the after-1/1/11 versus the no-commitment. Either way, I'm still under contract for the next 12 months regardless, unless I pay my current $120 ETF -- and I don't particularly want to give up my $30 unlimited data.

What the $600 price tag gives me is the ability to buy a nicely discounted iPhone 5 in June 2011 without all this bother about "am I eligible" or not. It also gives me the option of switching to another carrier at that time without pre-existing commitment, should such a carrier even exist.

The funny thing is this: if AT&T had lowered the after-January-2011 price to, say, $249 or even $299, I would probably just let the simple math sway me. The thing that's actually driving me away from committing to AT&T is the mathematical equivalence between my options -- assuming I want that freedom in June 2011.

If my choice is paying the same but being involved in extending my AT&T commitment versus being free of AT&T entanglement, I'll be honest in saying I'd rather go with the latter.

What do you think? What would you recommend for people like me, who are in the after-January-2011 group? Let us know in this poll and in the comments that follow.


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