Cell Phone Pricing is All Wrong

Want to buy a cell phone? You'll need your calculator, slide rule, and maybe even your abacus to figure out how much you're going to pay.

Theres something wrong with cell-phone pricing, and I pity anyone who has to try to buy a phone. The system is so messed up, even the vendors cant figure it out.

When I previewed the Nokia 3650 , the company claimed the cost would be a little more than $400. In our recent review, though, we listed a street price of $300. But if you clicked on our shopping link, where we bring you the best prices from lots of vendors, $450 was the lowest.

It gets worse. Because the 3650 is a GSM phone, itll run on multiple networks with just a SIM card swap. That means here in the US, AT&T Wireless, Cingular, and T-Mobile can each offer the phone (but they configure it in an appalling lockdown mode that restricts it to a single service). Heres where pricing really got interesting. T-Mobile charged $250, but with a $100 rebate. AT&T did even better. You could get the phone, after rebate, for just $50. Cingulars price was $350.

For the whole story, check out the PC Magazine article