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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013

Money-Saving Moment

Cheap prices on hot smart phones

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By Clark Howard


The hottest selling phone today is the Samsung Galaxy S III. And today only, Amazon.com is selling the Samsung Galaxy in white for 1 penny! The offer is valid only for new Sprint subscribers.

With this deal, you get a true unlimited data plan from Sprint, which is a much cheaper alternative than AT&T or Verizon. This Sprint deal comes with a 2-year contract and $350 early termination fee that goes down over time.

The monthly service fee is, relatively speaking, a deal.

I say "relatively speaking" because it was announced that on Friday (Jan. 11, 2013), Straight Talk will offer the iPhone 5 on a $45 a month unlimited plan for calling, texting, and web.

Compared to AT&T and Verizon, the closest equivalent for monthly service on the iPhone 5 is about $118 or $120. So this Straight Talk option is almost 2/3 cheaper. And compared to Sprint, it's about half their price.

The bad news is because you're not in any contract with Straight Talk, the phone is full price. That means you'll pay $649 for the iPhone 5 and $449 for the iPhone 4 that's also going to be available on Straight Talk come Friday. But by paying $45 a month, you more than make up the cost of the phone over the same 24 month period that you could be in a contract.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is trying to develop a bargain iPhone with a hard plastic case, not the brushed metal case, and cheaper components inside.

This is Apple's latest answer to the fact their share of the smart phone market is down to 14% from 23%.  

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