Today’s the big day – the iPhone 11 is officially available for purchase from Apple stores and our friendly cell network providers. A question that we all face is whether to buy the phone outright and get a Bring Your Own Phone plan from our provider, or to buy the phone with a contract. In Canada the standard contracts are now 24 months. We are going to look at the total costs of owning the iPhone 11 Pro with 256 GB of storage. This phone has all the latest hardware, including some awesome camera specs along with the other goodies. It doesn’t have the most storage available. I find that 256 GB on my iPhone XR is enough for now, but if you plan on taking lots of 4K video you’ll want to go for the 512 GB model. We are going to look at the costs for plans from 2 providers, Virgin Mobile and Telus Mobility in Alberta.

iPhone 11 Pro with 256 GB of storage in gold

One benefit of Apple’s strict pricing policy is that there is very little difference in buying one of their phones outright from the Apple store or a cell provider. Also, these devices rarely go on sale so our comparisons will be valid for a while.

The phone that I’ve described above is available from the Apple store for $1589. Applecare will cost you an additional $249. Phone plans will vary, depending on the number of talk minutes you want, the number of texts, and how many gigabytes of data you will need. I have 500 minutes of nationwide calling, unlimited texts and 4 GB of data for $50/month. I’m going to use that as my baseline plan since this has proven to be more than I need. When you spend this much on a phone, I’d recommend putting it in a good case for protection. The price of cases varies but $50 to $150 will get something nice. I’m going to budget $100 for the case.

The table below shows the costs for three plans:

  1. a Bring Your Own Phone plan from Virgin Mobile
  2. a two year purchase contract from Virgin Mobile
  3. a two year purchase contract from Telus Mobility
 Virgin BYOPVirgin Mobile ContractTelus Mobility Contract
Up front cost$1,589$660$0
Monthly plan cost$50$115$156.92
Accident coverage$249$249$14/mo
Phone case$100$100$100
24 Month total$3138$37694,202.08

The purchase contracts that I’ve chosen have the lowest up front costs for the particular phone model that we are considering. Virgin Mobile requires a payment of $660 and Telus Mobility has a plan that has no upfront payment. There are other variations on the available plans, of course. Both of the plans have unlimited calling in Canada and 10 GB of data which is more than the BYoP plan that I actually have, but I don’t need all that anyway so I won’t pay for it if I don’t have to.

Note that Telus has an accident coverage plan for $14/month which in two years totals $336, quite a bit more than the upfront AppleCare cost.

The Bring Your Own Phone plan can save you quite a bit of money over the course of two years, but there is a high initial cost. If you just want to distribute the cost of the phone and not pay anything up front you can find plans to do that, but shop around. There is quite a bit of variation between the cell companies and a bit of research can save you from paying for talk time and data that you won’t use. Note that a $0 up front cost is not the same as a free phone! The cost of the phone is just spread out over the contract and for many people, that is just fine.

Owning a smartphone for two years is quite expensive, but they can do a lot for us, especially if we use features beyond phoning and texting.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Apple, Virgin Mobile or Telus Mobility and I’m only recommending shopping around for a cell plan that suits your budget and includes features that you will actually use.