To iPhone or Not To iPhone. I Wasn't Sure...Until This Morning


Alison's phone: Destroyed by the Upper East Side. hide caption

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It has been 24 hours since my phone flipped out of my hand and crash landed on the corner of 93rd St. and Lexington Avenue. I'm doing pretty well considering my wireless world has been rocked. When I have mentioned to people my cell phone rests in pieces, a few have said enthusiastically, "Now you can get an iPhone!"

So I thought about it overnight before canceling my insurance claim. They look really cool. Maybe it was a sign from the igods to go ahead and be an early adopter for once in my life.

And then I saw this article first thing this morning in USA Today "How Many Trees did your iPhone Bill Kill". The article describes these huge bills early iPhoners are now getting. The bills are not only huge in terms of the amount owed to the phone company but also in terms of how many pages long they are — 30, 40 or 50 pages in some instances.

One comely blogger posted this clip about her iBill experience. (Thanks USA Today for pointing this out!)



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No problem, just opt for AT&T's paperless billing option. Problem solved.

Sent by fog city dave | 11:10 AM | 8-16-2007

That is a silly reason to NOT get an iPhone. I am sure AT&T will correct the excessive pages issue as it also costs them money.

Sent by Jared | 11:13 AM | 8-16-2007

It's called e-bill, people. You go to AT&T's website and simply click "Send my bill electronically". Easy-squeezy, the bill comes via e-mail, plus a handy alert to pay online. No trees are harmed, no stamps to buy. Why the media doesn't relay this easy bit of info is a mystery. I love the iPhone and the bill is easily affordable. Your call!

Sent by Joe Marrazzo | 11:18 AM | 8-16-2007

Alison, If you watched that comely blogger, you should have gotten the point. Use e-billing, a 300-page e-bill only kills e-trees.

Sent by william | 11:23 AM | 8-16-2007

I signed up for paperless/online billing (just like I do with all of my other bills) a long time ago, I think that it's the individual's responsibility to research ways of helping the environment and not rely on our service providers to spoon feed us what's "good" for us or the environment for that matter. As far as my monthly balance, I paid $103 last month for my iPhone service with the 450 mins and 1500 SMS package, this is 60 to 70 dollars less than I used to pay pre-iPhone.

Sent by Ben | 11:25 AM | 8-16-2007

Or, you could just take 20 seconds out of your day to click the "Paperless Billing" button on your ATT account page and the trees would remain unmolested despite your iPhone ownership.

Sent by Stretch | 11:25 AM | 8-16-2007

The large bills, in terms of size (# of pages, is a bit excessive, not mention ridiculous, can be had from at&t without detail. This would make them normal. As far as cost of services, they are based on usage just like any other phone. Get the right plan for your usage needs and you've done no better or worse than with any other plan.

Sent by Darryl | 11:34 AM | 8-16-2007

You can opt for e-billing. In any case, I believe ATT will correct this issue quickly after seeing the negative press. OTOH, if you're this easily dissuaded from the iPhone, maybe you don't really want/need it? Or, maybe regurgitating negative/biased press about it is somehow beneficial to your site? For instance, my iPhone bill was only 7 pages - the horror! But what self-respecting reporter really cares about the truth? It's much more fun to spread ignorance, isn't it? Yes, ATT does have a problem with their billing - but the majority of folks aren't receiving 300 page bills, and there is always e-billing. Get over it.

Sent by johnh | 11:51 AM | 8-16-2007

This is a ridiculous reason not to get an iPhone. The bill is not particularly big compared to my previous Treo plan at Sprint (in fact, it's less), and I've set AT&T for online billing. What's the big deal?

Sent by DL | 12:05 PM | 8-16-2007

Oh, come on! An iPhone phone plan costs $60:

$40 for 450 mins + $20 for unlimited internet access

That's it! 60 bucks, unless you either upgrade the amount of minutes or add SMS messaging.

Like any other phone, if you start roaming, calling your buddies in Tibet, or whatever, it is going to add up.

Point is, you can't bash the iPhone on the amount of the monthly bills. In fact, it is one of the absolute cheapest unlimited internet (within the USA) deals out there!

Sent by Francisco Moreno | 12:18 PM | 8-16-2007

Yes, AT&T needs to learn a lesson. Way too much data! Total of my first phone bill is larger because they bill AHEAD one month (you are paying for first AND next month), plus you get socked with the set up fees. I discovered a $2.99 per phone charge for roadside assistance. I did not order this... must have been in small print. I cancelled this immediately. Also, don't forget that you pay $20 per month, per phone for unlimited internet access. I set this up on a Family Plan and share the minutes. Net result is that the total is not much more than my previous Nextel bill for three business phones???AND I GET ACCESS TO WEB 24X7.

Sent by Dave | 12:34 PM | 8-16-2007

But you can choose to get online bills, duh!

Sent by Berneck | 12:48 PM | 8-16-2007

A) order paperless billing and B) my iPhone data plan is $20/mo unlimited... don't know how that makes the bill "huge".

Sent by geo | 12:50 PM | 8-16-2007

An important note about that bill (and all cell phone bills from AT&T): you can choose at any time (as I did) to get your bill entirely online. No trees killed at all. I'm no great fan of AT&T, but this ongoing "story" seems a little overwrought to me.

Sent by David Nett | 1:18 PM | 8-16-2007

Love my i{Phone and my monthly bill is $79. It's $10 more than what my old Sony Ericsson bill was and is well worth it.

Sent by Paul | 1:21 PM | 8-16-2007

You can't be serious... You should have at least mentioned that you can opt out of a paper bill and just use an electronic one, and print out only the pages you want if you insist on paper at all. My guess is if you care about the environment this much, you shouldn't be getting a paper bill at all...

So, knowing this, if this was the tipping point - my guess is you're getting an iPhone! :)

Sent by Craig Kuehne | 1:26 PM | 8-16-2007

Remember, the gi-normous printed phone bill can be easily turned off by visiting your account on the web and changing a preference, though I think most everyone agrees that it was silly to (a) enumerate every data access operation, and (b) make printing it be the default.

In any case, don't let the threat of deforestation keep you from buying an iPhone if you want one.

Sent by Tom Cole | 1:32 PM | 8-16-2007

HMMM...I phone users are really quite a passionate bunch. As many of you pointed out, electronic bills are a great thing. I'm a big fan of e-billing--saves trees and time. I'm also feeling a little bit like a conspiracy theorist..... all these posts came within a very specific time frame. How did most of you find us? The NPR homepage? Is there some iPhone fan site? And why so testy because someone just doesn't want an iPhone for whatever reason?

Sent by Alison Stewart | 2:02 PM | 8-16-2007

I hate to be one of those, "X many dead in Iraq and you're talking about the iPhone?!" readers. I really do.

But good lord, nothing gets you a quick demographic check like a nice Apple bash. The striking thing about this bill issue is more the weird and imposing info clutter that comes from technology than it is the killing of trees, e or otherwise.

Sent by CABF | 2:03 PM | 8-16-2007

Don't get the iPhone. Get the Dash and have a better device. The iPhone has huge potential, but it has yet to harness it fully.

Sent by Guest | 2:40 PM | 8-16-2007

Alison, I signed up for Google News Alerts, I used "iPhone" as the keyword. Google News Alerts then sends me email updates of iPhone stories it finds online; this morning your article was in the results. For the most part I want to comment on different sites or blogs in relation to iPhone posts but many of them make you sign up in order to post comments. I like the fact that I don't have to sign up to your site in order to contribute. As far as the time when these comments went live... I posted my comment earlier in the morning, but either an automated system or person has to review and approve the comments before they go live.

Sent by Ben | 2:43 PM | 8-16-2007

I don't actually care that you get an iPhone or not. (I don't have one.) Pick whatever phone you want. What I and most people here are writing about is not passion for the iPhone but your criteria (number of printed pages in a bill) and the wrong fact (cost of service) that you seem to be using to make the decision, and the spreading of this wrong fact to others on the Internet. The AT&T plan for the iPhone is one of the cheapest on the market for Internet access. Comparisons have been made by many - google it.

Hey that's what blogging on the Internet is all about. You can publish whatever stupidity you want; and if you allow comments, people can praise, ridicule, and correct you all they want. As for how I think most people found you, there is a site called that searches the internet for references to all things Apple, and your post was in that.

Sent by mark | 3:21 PM | 8-16-2007

Allison: This blog entry is linked to by, which is used by many Apple watchers to get their Apple related web content fix (myself included).

Sent by Daveed V. | 5:05 PM | 8-16-2007

Hi Alison,

Yes, we found this article at, an aggregator of sorts for headlines relating to Apple and technology. Your server logs can probably tell you what proportion of viewers came from which sites.

Your article is a little ambiguous as to your final decision about getting an iPhone. If you do, click on the Settings button from the main screen, scroll ("flick?") your way down and tap on "Phone" then down the page to "AT&T Services". From there you can tap on "AT&T My Account" and change your billing preferences to select an electronic bill, right in Safari on your iPhone.

No fuss, no muss, no paper... No computer, even!


Sent by Bob | 6:32 PM | 8-16-2007

To my non-iPhone-having mind, I guess the real question -- which none of the kool-aid drinkers mentioned -- is, well, *why* is the default to send you a big-ass bill that among other things contains a copy of every text message you sent that month? Why do you have to choose either a summary bill or an electronic bill? Why isn't the default that everyone gets an e-bill unless they specifically ask for either a summary or a detailed monsterbill?

I don't think my mobile provider even OFFERS a paper bill!

Sent by Stewart | 11:50 PM | 8-16-2007

I wonder if there's some sort of paperless billing option...

Sent by Ron | 9:26 AM | 8-17-2007

Alison, I get iPhone google alerts which send me e-mails of every online column written about the iPhone. Keeps me abreast of what's new with the phone.

Sent by Joe Marrazzo | 11:57 AM | 8-17-2007

Looks like you've bothered the Apple/Steve Jobs/iAnything crowd. I guess if they are willing to pay an obscene price for a "phone" and inadequate cell plan, they don't see the stupidity of the default billing method. Oh, the ignorance of youth! Please don't join the instanity and get a good phone and with a decent plan.

Sent by Voice of reason | 12:28 PM | 8-17-2007

This article was so badly (one-sided)stated I couldn't bear to listen to NPR on my ride home yesterday. I hope everyone there isn't this biased and uninformed. This certainly affects my opinion of NPR, in a bad way.

Sent by Aleta | 3:49 PM | 8-17-2007