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Android and iPhone price plan comparison

CNET compares the price plans of three Android phones and the Apple iPhone across all four nationwide carriers.

We all know the cost of a phone is more than just the price of the device. There are also monthly costs to deal with, whether you're going for the cheapest plan possible or for the expensive all-in-one bundle. This is especially a concern when it comes to smartphones, as data and messaging costs can add up to quite a hefty monthly bill.

In light of recent Android smartphone releases, we decided it might be good to compare the voice, messaging, and data plans of some of these phones across all four nationwide carriers to see which is the cheapest and which is the most expensive. Since AT&T does not yet have an Android phone, we used the Apple iPhone 3GS for comparison. We assumed that customers would be buying these phones with a new contract, so to keep things fair, we did not include T-Mobile's no-contract price plan in the chart (see note below). For Verizon, we did not compare the Connect or Premium plans because they aren't available for the Droid.

We also did not include the pricing for corporate and family plans. For example, Verizon's corporate data plans will cost $45 a month instead of $30 a month (despite claims to the contrary), which is the same for AT&T's iPhone.

We calculated the cheapest plans by adding up the cheapest of all the voice, messaging, and data options (we assumed that most smartphone users will want at least a basic messaging plan rather than no messaging plan at all). Conversely, we calculated the most expensive plans by adding up the most expensive of all three options. Typically, the costliest plans include unlimited voice, messaging, and data. We also know a lot of smartphone users don't use a lot of talk minutes, but are ardent users of text and data, so we also added up monthly plans with the lowest minutes but with unlimited text and data usage.

Motorola Cliq Motorola Droid Samsung Moment Apple iPhone 3GS, 16GB
Network T-Mobile Verizon Sprint AT&T
Device cost with new contract $199.99 $199.00 $179.99 $199.00
Cheapest voice plan $39.99 for 500 minutes $39.99 for 450 minutes $69.99 for 450 minutes** $39.99 for 450 minutes (with rollover)
Unlimited voice plan $59.99 $99.99 $99.99** $99.99
Unlimited data plan $30 or $40* $29.99 N/A $30
Cheapest add-on messaging bundle $4.99 for 300 messages $5 for 250 messages N/A $5 for 200 messages
Most expensive add-on messaging bundle N/A $20 for 5000 messages N/A $20 for unlimited
Cheapest monthly plan $74.98 $74.99 $69.99 $74.99
Most expensive monthly plan $99.99 $149.99 $99.99 $149.99
Cheapest voice with unlimited data and text plan $79.99 $89.98 $69.99 $89.99
*$40/mth includes unlimited messages **includes unlimited messages and data

Note: If you were to buy the Motorola Cliq for $399.99 (which is the no-contract price), the cheapest monthly plan for it would be $59.99 for 500 talk minutes and $79.99 for unlimited everything.