Apple iPlans keep it simple

Trust Apple to turn something as mundane as a phone plan into a marketing coup.

Apple and AT&T have announced three calling plans to match with the iPhone, which is all set to launch at the end of the week. The three tier plans are $59.99 for 450 minutes, $79.99 for 900 minutes and $99.99 for 1,350 minutes. It includes unlimited data (EDGE) and 200 SMS messages and other trimmings.

These plans are no different than what AT&T actually offers right now on its website, except that the array of choices on their website can give any one a headache. Apple has kept it simple.

However a word of caution for heavy SMS users – unless you upgrade to the the $10-for-1500 messages (or $20 for unlimited messaging) offer you are going to be served up when activating the phone, you are in for a nasty surprise and a big tab at the end of the month. AT&T typically charges $0.05 for every message – so for extra 100 messages you end up paying $5.

And how these new plans stack up against other phone companies’ offerings? We are plowing through the details, and have found one plan that is better than the basic iPlan: Verizon’s “America Choice Select” calling plan is similarly priced AND includes unlimited messaging. Neil is right – it doesn’t include data and wifi. Sorry about that. Jeff Nolan thinks his T-Mobile plan is saving him money when compared to the iPlan, so check it out.

Update: Read the damn fine print. TUAW reports:

Can you buy an iPhone and just use the built in WiFi and iPod features? Apparently not. According to the small print on Apple’s rate plan webpage, you need to purchase a 2 year wireless service plan. This means your iPhonePod will cost you at least ($60/month * 24 months) + $500/iPhone = $1940 + $36 activation fee + tax.