Should You Get Your Child an iPhone?

October 19, 2014

With my daughter entering middle school this year, my wife and I thought it was time to her to have a cell phone. My daughter thought this should have happened eons ago but now there was a legitimate need with after school activities and pick-ups. Before we went forward with the purchase, I had my daughter sign our own family cell phone contract since I would be covering the monthly cost (more on that in a future post). Of course, my daughter’s preference was to get an iPhone, specifically the 5c.  She informed me that she had saved enough money to cover the equipment cost.  Before school started and the iPhone 6 launched, a 32 GB version was on sale for $100 at Best Buy.  Since we’re on AT&T Mobile Share plan with 10 GB of data, I thought it would only cost $15 a month to add an additional line.  This is what my wife’s iPhone costs per month.

Well, I was wrong.  The $15 price does not apply to a subsidized phone.  Adding a subsidized smart phone to your plan will cost you $40 a month.  I’m suddenly looking at spending $600 that I wasn’t planning on spending.  It’s also my daughter’s first phone so there’s a distinct possibility it could be lost or stolen. The only option besides a second mortgage was to see what my daughter could afford to buy outright.

For $100 or less, there are a number of Android and Windows phones available for outright purchase.  She chose the Nokia Lumina 365 which had just come out and was available as an unlocked AT&T Go Phone for $99, and you can find it for even less now.  At that price, it’s a pretty good value, it has a crisp 4.5 inch touchscreen and most of the apps my daughter cares about such as texting and Instagram. It comes with its own version of Siri called Cortana which is just as willing to be chided by my daughter. A big thumbs up from my daughter on Windows UI and it configurable tiles. Using the phone briefly, the only drawback I noticed was the low speaker volume for voice calls. According to my daughter the other drawbacks include the lack of a front facing camera as well as a flash. We still have to figure out how to sync music to it (there’s an app called “Sync with My Mac” that looks like it can do it). However, the biggest problem in her mind is that it isn’t an iPhone.

If you prefer Android, you can spend a little more and get the Moto G for about $179 outright.  The consensus out there is that this is the best low cost Android phone.  It’s a pretty good price considering it has a 5″ screen and it’s capable of running KitKat.

So, in conclusion, the Windows phone is a good starter phone for your child. It has the most popular apps and it won’t bankrupt your family.  Yes, it’s not an iPhone but your child really doesn’t need a $700 device in their pocket to make calls and use a couple of apps.

Nokia Lumina 365 and the Windows home screen

Nokia Lumina 365 and the Windows home screen


Tags: Android, IPhone, Nokia, smart phone

4 Responses to Should You Get Your Child an iPhone?

  1. Ben Drawbaugh on October 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    C’mon Dad, spend a few dollars so your daughter can have the phone she really wants. ;)

    Seriously, though. Although the up front cost is important, so is the resale value. So if she proves she can take care of this phone, then pick up a used iPhone. I bet you could pick up a 5c used for about $300 and sell it in a year for $200. End up spending the same as you did on the Windows Phone — that she’d rather not have.

  2. Chucky on October 20, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Nothing wrong with your choice, but you did leave out the option of a cheap used iPhone. The 5′s are still a bit pricey, but the 4′s are cheap. A bit more than $99, but not all that much more.

    “Well, I was wrong. The $15 price does not apply to a subsidized phone.”

    Always amazed at how few (otherwise knowledgeable) folks seem hip to the rules of the subsidization game. In Europe, governments actually force carriers/phone manufacturers to spell out the real price of the phone. But here in the USA, it’s all hidden in the fine print, and basically no one understands…

  3. Chucky on October 20, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I’m always pleased when I’m on the same page as bjdraw…

  4. Gabe Gagliano on October 21, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    All valid points. Another route is the hand-me-down. I did make the suggestion that my wife get a new phone and we could have given her iPhone 4 to my daughter but neither one of them seem interested in that option
    Ben: This transaction happened in August and a used 5C was still pretty pretty pricey at the time on eBay (over $400). Regardless, her budget was just over $100. The whole situation was a good lesson in living within one’s means among others.
    On the Windows phone itself, while she’s not thrilled with it, she does seem to like it well enough.

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