Apple’s cheapest iPhone is $399 in the United States. AT&T’s cheapest iPhone plan is $59.99 monthly, for two years. So for two years of service, you’ll pay $1838.76 in total or $76.62 per month. I’m not seeing the attraction, especially considering this is the absolute minimum you can pay for an iPhone in the US. Sign up for the most expensive service plan and you’re paying $2898.76 for two years, or $120.78 per month.

Elsewhere in the world it gets even worse. The iPhone costs as many Euros in Ireland as dollars in the United States. Currently, $1 is worth €1.52, so the disparity is no small matter. The cheapest iPhone in Ireland will set you back €1608 with an 18 month plan, or €89.33 per month. This is equivalent to $135.78 per month. It’s not a comparison of equal features however. The Irish are limited in their monthly data allotment, enjoy far less talk time, and have no visual voicemail. The high-end plan costs €55 more each month (€144.33 which is equal to $219.38) and still doesn’t offer nearly the time and data allowance of the cheapest AT&T plan.

O2 is the service provider in Ireland, and O2 CEO, Danuta Gray, has something to say about comparisons like this:

Comparing it with a standard handset is just not like-for-like. I have music on it, videos on it, DVDs, photo albums, camera. To me it’s just an amazing device and I think the type of price here compared with this type of functionality is where the value should be judged.

I’m thinking that perhaps it could also be judged against an iPod Touch and a cheap mobile phone that includes a camera and a voice recorder. Besides the separation into two devices, this is exactly like-for-like.

Despite the US deal being superior and cheaper, $80 a month for a phone holds no attraction when I pay a third of that for my land line.