Another day, another iPhone release.
The weak ringgit is pushing prices up, but that hasn't stopped Malaysians. Telcos are reporting overwhelming demand. Maxis reported they sold out of the 128GB iPhone 6s Plus the day after launching their preorder. Apple announced they sold 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models, a new record.
We can't wait to get our hands on it. But the weak ringgit is killing us. Can we really afford it?
Thankfully, telcos sell the devices at deep discounts. But there are so many plans to choose from. The Star was kind enough to publish comparison tables for both devices. Soya Cincau published an even more detailed table days ago, as is their wont.
But how is a first-time buyer supposed to make sense of all those numbers? What do they all mean? We're here to make sense of all the information overload.
[Image source: Flickr]
All devices under iValue 3 are crazy cheap. The 16GB iPhone 6s is almost 60 percent cheaper than Apple's retail price. The plan also comes with 2500 minutes of talktime and 1000 texts to Maxis numbers. The monthly commitment, however, is a steep RM250.
iValue plans are available in 12- and 24-month contracts. There's a couple hundred ringgit difference in the price, but your contract period is halved. Which isn't a bad tradeoff for some people.
The 16GB iPhone 6s is priced the same for all three MaxisONE plans. The plans also offer unlimited calls and texts to local numbers. Where the plans differ is data, 3 to 8GB is bundled with plans. This seems to be the only difference between these plans and the only justification for the price difference.
Get more details about Maxis pricing here.
In stark contrast with Maxis's nine plans, Celcom is offering only three. The plans, all 24-month contracts, come with a basic allowance of 2 to 3GB data and 100-350 minutes and 100-350 texts. All plans permit additional calls and texts, or data, under Celcom's OPTIMISER feature, if the basic allowance is exceeded.
A 16 GB iPhone 6s is available under Celcom's top-tier plan, FIRST Elite, for a third of Apple's price tag. You aren't getting as many calls and texts as under their mid-tier plan, FIRST Basic 85 with Max up All, though. The data quota is the same for these two plans.
FIRST Elite comes with a secondary SIM, a feature it doesn't share with the mid-tier plan, and that SIM has the same call, text and data quotas as the primary SIM. OPTIMISER isn't available for the secondary SIM though.
The discount under FIRST Basic 85 isn't too shabby, a third off Apple's price tag. And for almost a third of the monthly commitment of FIRST Elite.
Get more details about Celcom pricing here.
Digi is offering five plans for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Its basic plan, Smart Plan 50, is a 12-month plan only and the rest are 24-month plans.
All plans are available in two flavours, High Voice or High Data, with a higher monthly allocation for either usage type. For example, Smart Plan 50 High Data comes with 2GB data, 100 minutes and 100 texts; Smart Plan 50 High Voice comes with 250MB data, 400 minutes and 400 texts.
The 16 GB iPhone 6s is being offered for almost a third off Apple's price tag, under Smart Plan 238, Digi's top-tier plan. If you're like me and consider 16GB insufficient storage, you can get the 64GB version for 45 per cent off under Smart Plan 238, which also isn't a bad deal. The monthly commitment of RM238 (not including GST) is a high price to pay, unless you have the usage to justify that kind of monthly bill.
Get more info about Digi pricing here.
Good guy U Mobile displays all of its prices inclusive of GST. It would be nice if the other telcos followed suit. It could cut down a lot of the confusion (or maybe less confusion is bad for business).
U Mobile is also offering a loan program, called U Microcredit, to further defray the device cost. You can get financing up to RM3500 and repayment period can be set for 12 months or more. Whatever scheme you choose, the interest rate is a flat 1.2 percent. And you don't need a credit card to sign up.
A 16GB iPhone 6s will set you back RM1908, less than half of Apple's price tag, if you sign up with U Mobile's top plan, i130. That's less of a discount than other telcos, but U Microcredit can help to control the cost better.
Get more info about U Mobile pricing here.
Affordability comes at a price
Are you getting a good deal? It depends. You have to look at the bigger picture. Device cost is one factor. Plan cost is another.
Plan cost is largely hidden because we pay it monthly. But it's a fixed cost, which means we can estimate how much we'd spend every month (assuming we don't exceed our call, text or data quotas) as well as the total amount we'd spend on the plan.
For example, here's a chart of iValue plans compared to Apple's retail price.
It looks like we're getting a good deal if we consider the leftmost data points. But if we follow the line we can see that around month 8 we will have paid more. Follow the line all the way to the end and we can see that we could be paying more than twice as much for the device.
You're not getting nothing for that money. But if you have a lot of leftover calls, texts or data every month, then you're overspending.
For more analysis, check out this short presentation (desktop only).
With all of this pricing information at your fingertips, go forth and make a more informed decision.
Then again, maybe wait for the iPhone 7.