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My $0 iPhone Data Plan

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I use my iPhone a lot.  I watch baseball games, view Netflix movies, catch the occassional American Pickers, read personal email, catch up on work email, follow baseball chatter on Twitter, listen to podcasts, read books, and much more.

I also have the world's cheapest iPhone data plan.  It costs me $0 per month.  What's my secret?

The phone

The iPhone 5 is the current iPhone model, with the iPhone 6 in the wings. [Editor's Note: I think Apple is going with an iPhone 5S rather than 6 in this iteration.]

My iPhone is a 3GS.  When my wife upgraded to the iPhone 5, I got her hand me down.  It may not have all the bells and whistles, but it does all the things I need it to do, so I'm happy (but crossing my fingers that MLB.TV doesn't drop 3GS support before my wife hands the iPhone 5 down to me.

The plan

I don't actually have any sort of voice or data plan tied to the iPhone.  I just use it as a wireless device.  In theory, I could have sold the iPhone, bought an iPod Touch, and pocketed a few bucks in the arbitrage process ... but I opted to avoid the potential issues of an eBay sale.

I'm on call 24 X 7 for my job.  I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  I'm an IT guy.  The fact that the iPhone doesn't make or receive calls does means that I have to carry two devices.  Obviously, this is less convenient than carrying one.  However, it does mean that I'm not going to drain the battery of my "real" phone by watching baseball games.  I don't have to conserve any battery life - full speed ahead - and watching live streaming video does drain the battery a bit.  (Note: my "real" phone is a no frills Pantech Pursuit that features great battery life).

I know that some of you are jumping to the conclusion that I could just activate the iPhone and opt to not have a data plan ... but most providers check the see if you have a smart phone activated, and will automatically enroll you in a data plan if you do.


WiFi is the lifeblood of my iPhone.  I have two small kids, and spent a large chunk of my life trying to get then to go to sleep.  I can sit in their room watching the Rockies game as they drift off to sleep.  My wife likes to watch reality TV and occassionally wants me to be in the same room while she's watching.  Again, baseball to the rescue.  I watch the small screen while she watches the big screen.  Doing the dishes?  Not a problem - prop up the iPhone and kill off the boredom.

When I'm not at home, I have to rely on the WiFi of others.  I have an ad hoc WiFi network set up on the in-laws' Mac Mini (I provide free tech support for them, so it's a good deal for them).  There are a lot of business that provide free WiFi these days.  McDonalds and Hardees have done this for years, and Target has been rolling it out in my local stores during the past few months.  A lot of mom and pop places also have free WiFi, as do many hotels, airports, stadiums, etc.

Naturally, sometimes I'm going to be without a WiFi signal.  That doesn't make the iPhone worthless, though.  I can still read books on the Kindle app and listen to podcasts (a life saver on the 70 miles round trip commute each day).  If an internet emergency pops up and I'm with my wife, I can always have her pull up the info on her cellular-enabled iPhone.

Not for everyone

This plan isn't for everyone.  If you absolutely need to have internet access 24x7, it's not for you.  If you need to have the very newest smart devices, it's also not for you.  But if you want to save a few bucks and don't mind having to sniff out WiFi networks when you're on the go, the Kosmo iPhone plan may be just the thing for you.

[Editor's Note: If MLB.tv discontinues support for older Apple devices, I would highly recommend Kosmo get a 7" Android tablet (maybe the first generation of the Nexus 7 that I recently got). That iPhone 5 should have great resale value (assuming they aren't iPhone 7s out) and the bigger screen is great for watching video. An iPad Mini will do the same job, but it is even bigger and probably still going to be costly for awhile.

Last updated on August 18, 2013.

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5 Responses to “My $0 iPhone Data Plan”

  1. Kosmo says:

    “If MLB.tv discontinues support for older Apple devices, I would highly recommend Kosmo get a 7″ Android tablet”

    This will fit in my back pocket, right? :)

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I stay away from putting electronic devices in back pockets. It’s not the place you want glass shards when you sit down.

    That said, how baggy are your pants? Another reviewer pockets their Nexus 7 here.

  3. Kosmo says:

    Using that logic, back pocket seems a heck of a lot better than front pocket :)

  4. Lazy Man says:

    I’ve sat down with phones in my front pocket. It’s no problem. I’m not willing to try the same with the back pocket.

  5. […] My $0 iPhone Data Plan A post on Lazy Man & Money talks about the ultimate iPhone data plan: one that costs just $0.00. […]

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