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Get a refurbished iPhone 4 for $149.99

And while you're at it, a few strategic voice/data plan selections can get your monthly AT&T bill down as low as $55. Still pricey, sure, but at least reasonable.

You could pay $50 more for a new iPhone 4, but why? The refurbished models are just as good as new.
You could pay $50 more for a new iPhone 4, but why? The refurbished models are just as good as new.

When I buy stuff from Apple, I always, always go the refurb route. Know why? Because the company's refurbished gear is literally good as new, right down to the warranty. The only real difference: you don't get the same sexy box.

Update: Some have suggested that the warranty is only 90 days. That's not what I was told, but I'm double-checking and will post another update if I find out that's the case. Either way, you should definitely investigate yourself before ordering, as a $50 savings is not enough to offset a 9-month warranty loss.

AT&T is now offering the refurbished iPhone 4 16GB for $149.99 and the refurbished iPhone 4 32GB for $249.99. In both cases you're saving $50 off the price of a new unit.

That may not seem like much, but the last time I checked, 50 bucks was 50 bucks. If you're planning to buy an iPhone anyway, why not save some cash?

As I explained above, a refurbished iPhone comes with the same one-year warranty as a new one. And based on my experience buying a refurbished 3GS, it comes out of the box looking as pristine as if it had just rolled off the assembly line. You get all the usual accessories, plus new earbuds and a new battery.

Now for the caveats: this offer is for new AT&T customers only, and you're on the hook for sales tax and a $36 activation fee (same as with a new phone). Oh, and you have to commit to a two-year contract, natch.

Meh. I still say 50 bucks is 50 bucks. To me there's just no point in paying extra to get it new.

Even so, I've already anticipated the top-five inevitable responses to this post:

  1. I'm not buying an iPhone till I can get it from Verizon.
  2. This phone isn't $149.99. It's $1,680 over two years! You call that a deal?
  3. iPhone suxxors; Android rulez.
  4. A real cheapskate wouldn't own an iPhone.
  5. Typical CNET: another Apple fanboy pimping Apple products.

Whatever. You can criticize Apple, AT&T, and me all you want; I still think there's no better smartphone than the iPhone, and I'll always look for ways to save money on it.

Speaking of which, don't forget that you can lower your monthly bill $5 to $20 by choosing a text-messaging app (like Textfree Unlimited, which is now free permanently) instead of an AT&T messaging plan.

As for your data plan, why not start out with the $15/month DataPlus (200MB) option and see if that's sufficient? If you spend most of your time in Wi-Fi-rich areas, it probably will be.

Finally, if you use a voice-over-IP app like Skype or Truphone for at least some of your calls, you can probably get by on the $39.99/month voice plan. All told, you're on the hook for around $55 per month, which is not at all terrible.

OK, now you can let the comments fly.