I’ve got the ultimate conundrum for a dedicated frugalist: the broken cell phone. First the story, then the conundrum.

The Cheap Phone Plan
As soon as my husband and I got married, we merged our cell phone plans into a family plan. About a year after the first two-year agreement expired, the hinge on his phone cracked and we decided it was time to upgrade. We both went to the AT&T store and bought matching phones. They weren’t the cheapest phones in the store, but they were basic flip phones. My husband considered a Blackberry, but decided to wait until the next contract expiration.

Breakable Flip Phones
Last Thursday the hinge on my phone cracked. I currently have it taped together, but it’s not a long-term solution. However, we’ve got nine months left on our phone plans. It’s a known issue, so I’ll be calling LG to see if they’ll fix it free, even though it’s out of warranty. We also have insurance on the phone, but the deductible will be at least $50 and I’ll get a refurbished phone.

The iPhone Conundrum
Here’s where it gets tricky. Currently, we both receive cell phone reimbursements from our employers: $40 for me, $50 for him. That completely covers our current phone plan, so our phones cost us nothing.

My employer also offers company phones. They’ll give me a free Blackberry or I can buy an iPhone and they’ll pay for the service and data plan. But, I would have to get a new phone number or transfer my number. I’ve had my number for 13 years – I don’t want to change it!

If we upgraded to an iPhone for me and a Blackberry for him, we’re looking at $179 a month plus taxes vs. $70 a month plus taxes. We could use the lowest cost plan with rollover minutes since we have 4000 minutes accumulated, but that would still cost $125 a month.

My plan was to wait until October so I could go on my company plan and we could put him on an individual plan for a Blackberry. It would cost the same as it costs us now, but the net after his reimbursement would be $30ish, instead of $50ish.

Why I Want an iPhone
I primarily want an iPhone for the browser. There have been several occasions where I wanted to get directions, or check an online price, or find some other information while out and about.
I hate texting, but I do have friends who insist on texting me, so the iPhone would make that easier.
It’s becoming more important that I have access to office email on the weekends.
My co-workers all have them and use them during conference calls, while I sit quietly staring at the wall.

Why I’m Hesitant about the iPhone
I don’t really care about the apps. I’ve had a PDA before and used apps. Although handy, I wasn’t addicted to them.
I prefer to use a paper notebook to keep notes, to do lists, etc. It’s faster to write by hand than it is to keep it on a PDA.
I hate the iPhone keyboard – it’s hard to poke the letters with my fingertips. Maybe it’s just because I used to use a stylus and I’ll get used to it.
I already have an iPod that still works perfectly well, so I don’t need it for the music.
I just bought a new pocket calendar for the year and I like it.

My first plan of action is to try to get my current phone fixed for free. If that doesn’t work I’ll have to decide my next step. If we break our family plan now, we’ll have to pay a $100 early termination fee, unless we can avoid the fee by replacing our family plan with an individual plan at equal cost. Hmmm, I’ll have to look into that. If we can, then I’ll jump onto the office plan. If we can’t, then we’ll be doing some more math.

So, are any of you iPhone users? Do you think it’s worth the extra cost?

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