It's been a long time coming, gang, but it's finally here. Yes, oh, yes: The smartphone revolution has officially begun.
Hang on a sec -- let me clarify. By "smartphone revolution," I don't mean that mobile technology is just now maturing or becoming an integral part of our lives. That obviously happened a while ago; we've all been toting around and depending on our devices for years, and the technology is pretty much moving forward incrementally at this point.
Nay, the revolution of which I speak isn't about the technology itself -- but rather the way we pay for the privilege of carrying it. For the first time, particularly in America, smartphones are becoming a consumer's game. Both in purchasing them and using them, the tables have at long last started to turn our way.
Stay with me for a minute, because we've got a fair amount of ground to cover here. The revolution is actually happening on a couple different fronts -- first, with the long overdue and much-deserved death of the two-year carrier contract.
The smartphone revolution, part I: The crumbling of the carrier resistance
You've heard about this pending doom by now, right? Sprint announced the other day that it's phasing out contracts and the subsidies that accompany them by the end of this year. Verizon made a similar move earlier this month, while T-Mobile killed off its contracts two years ago. Only AT&T is still clinging to the antiquated notion of locking consumers in, and we'll see how much longer that's able to last.
Of course, those of us in the know have been avoiding carrier contracts for a while. Once you realize that a "$200 phone" actually costs $700 to $900 -- and that under most carrier contract plans, you end up paying that full price and then some via the ongoing inflated monthly service charges -- it becomes a no-brainer to simply purchase phones unlocked and then find an inexpensive (and commitment-free) prepaid plan that fits your needs.
The problem is that most people are completely unaware that such options exist. In America, the norm has long been to walk into a carrier store and pick out a new device right then and there. Near-ubiquitous ads touting shiny new flagship phones for "ONLY $200!" are pretty deceptive -- and until your eyes are opened to the actual math behind those numbers, it's easy to be misled.
With contracts finally going the way of the dodo, though, the smartphone-purchasing landscape is starting to look drastically different. Everyone's suddenly realizing, holy crap, that "$200 phone" actually costs $815! Maybe the carrier is offering a way to spread out the cost over monthly payment plans separate from your base service -- in other words, a less shady and deceptive way of doing what they were doing before -- but that big final number is no longer hidden behind tiny and out-of-the-way print.
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