The Best Smartphone-Suit Compromise

Sacrificing a little on your mobile to get a lot back in your wardrobe.

Paul writes travel and tech articles for Dappered. Follow his travel adventures on DrivingInertia.com

The marketing machine is in full swing behind the new HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 smartphones, and the hype machine is building behind the iPhone 5S and Nexus 5. I went to Verizon the other day and put one of the latest, greatest phones in my cart and picked out a plan. Verizon is now charging $60 for 2GB of data and a $40 line fee — $100 a month (plus $200 for the subsidized phone). Sure, I can “share” the data, but 2GB isn’t a ton to share. All in, I’d spend $2,600 on this latest, greatest phone over the next two years.

$2,600.  Ouch.

Problem is, I also want a new suit, but the only way I can figure to justify one is to cut into the budget elsewhere. What if, for example, I don’t get this phone from Verizon? What if I compromise, buy my own phone, and find myself a deal? What could I afford then? It’s time to shop around.

How is a $1,00 suit a compromise?

How is a $1,000 suit a compromise?

Option 1: StraightTalk AT&T + Nexus 4 = $1,400 over two years
$1,200 remaining for suits

For $45 a month, StraightTalk wireless offers unlimited talk and text and “unlimited” data. There’s no hard cap with StraightTalk’s data because they piggy-back on multiple networks with different rules, but if I want maximum coverage, I’ll opt for their AT&T option. Yes, I’ll sacrifice the 4G speeds I’d get with Verizon, but I’m willing to compromise on that to still be on a top-tier network. If you’ve got an AT&T-compatible phone (like a still-good iPhone 4S), you can save even more by BYO-ing it, but if you don’t, the $300 Nexus 4 is worth a look with this plan. All in, I’ll end up just under $1,400 over two years.

This leaves $1,200 in savings, which breaks down in suit terms like this:

My goodness.

UPDATE: StraightTalk AT&T SIMs are in short supply and selling from 3rd parties for $40+ on Amazon. Luckily, there’s an alternate (and still affordable) way to get on AT&T’s network: Red Pocket Mobile. Their $60 unlimited talk, text, and 2GB data plan pushes the two-year total to $1,740, leaving $860 for suits. Still enough for a J. Crew Factory Thompson and a Ludlow, though, but not enough for a La Spalla. 

Three of these, please.

Three of these, please.

Option 4G: T-Mobile 4G or Sprint LTE on Virgin = $1,100 over two years
$1,500 remaining for suits

At Dappered, we love Virgin Mobile. The phones are reasonably priced, the Sprint network is solid (cue enraged former-customer comment), and the plans are a deal. Plans start at $35 a month for 300 minutes, unlimited texts, and “unlimited” data (Virgin Mobile throttles you at 2.5GB). And Virgin now offers a 4G LTE phone, the Samsung Galaxy Victory (on sale for $230). It’s a tempting deal and will set me back $1,100 over two years if I opt for it. [Note: You can save another $100 by opting for the very-solid HTC One V ($130).]

Then there’s T-Mobile. They recently revamped their pricing structure, but they left their best-deal plan alone. It provides “unlimited” data (throttled after 5GB at 4G speed), unlimited texting, and 100 minutes of talk. The plan is buried on their website (way near the bottom). It’s also still available via Walmart. Opting for a Nexus 4 ($300) would connect me to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, which is not LTE, but it’s pretty damn close. Price is about the same as the Virgin options above, $1,100.

A $1,100 smartphone means there’s $1,500 left in the budget for suits. I could go wild at Indochino.com — picking up three of their Essential suits (probably the light grey, navy, and charcoal), and almost have enough left over for their midnight blue tux.  Here’s to hoping they extend the satin all the way across the lapels by then.  I could scrape together the sixteen dollars I’d be short.

Tempting.

iPhone? I think my assistant has one.

iPhone? I think my assistant has one.

Option 3: Ting or Republic Wireless = $700 over two years
$1,900 remaining for suits

Republic Wireless offers unlimited text, talk, and data for $19 a month. There are two catches — one is that there’s only one phone (and it’s $250). The other is that they expect you to be on WiFi much of the time. That’s how they keep the cost so low — they route as much as they can through your already-paid-for WiFi network. Meanwhile on Ting, if you keep your existing Sprint phone, you can save some serious money on your monthly plan after your contract expires. It’s possible to build your own plan that comes out to $700 in two years (you’re already $250 ahead thanks to not having to buy a phone). Both Ting and Republic us the Sprint Network.

$1,900 remaining. That’s some serious juice.  That’s enough for one $469 Suit Supply Purple Line suit every six months. Four. New. Suits.

Or, if I really wanted to go big, that’s enough for a fully canvased, made in Italy, Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald fit, Golden Fleece suit

Seriously, how did a nearly $2,000 suit get into play? Or a new suit every six months? Insane.

(Thanks to Adam for the tip on Ting and Serge for the tip on Republic Wireless.)

What do you think? How much tech are you willing to compromise for style? Have you cut back on anything else, like cable/satellite TV, to have more room in your budget? Share your thoughts in the comments.