The True Cost of Owning an iPhone 5 [Infographic]

NEW YORK | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 8:40am EDT

Ever wonder how cell phone companies make their money? It all comes down to contracts and monthly cash-flow. While most people think of the iPhone 5 as a device that costs in the mid hundreds, the true cost of owning an iPhone 5 over two years is mroe like $1800. And that’s not chump change.

So you scraped your pennies together and you’re ready to buy the cheapest iPhone 5 there is: the 16 GB model with a 2-year contract. A pretty good deal, right? $199 for the best smartphone on the planet?

Not so fast. Consider your voice and data plan, which is going to cost you at least $1,440 over two years — and that’s for the absolute rock-bottom plan on AT&T, the cheapest iPhone carrier in the U.S., with pay-as-you-go texting. (AT&T is also the most expensive carrier; its unlimited plan will set you back more than $5,500 over two years.)

All this and other potential costs are broken down in this interesting infographic, created by Guys from content marketing firm Avalaunch Media

While the cost estimate is a little prescriptive — who’s to say you’re going to need a case, a car charger, a stereo dock and an armband? — we’d say it’s a good ballpark guess at how much you’ll be shelling out on hidden extras and accessories.

If you’re a former iPhone user, you’re going to need Lightning adapters. Even if not, we doubt you’ll make do with just the one Lightning charger. And then there’s the content; only 30% of iPhone users get by with free apps. Chances are strong you’re going to download more. All in all, we’d say $1,808 is a conservative estimate.

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