iPhone Starter Plan: $60 Per Month

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has answered one of the final major questions about the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone, announcing three service plans for the device just days before its launch.

You'll be able to talk it up on the iPhone for between $60 to $100 a month. AT&T (formerly Cingular) unveiled three service plans for the new phone today -- 450 minutes of voice calls for $59.99, $79.99 for 900 minutes, and $99.99 for 1,350 minutes. It says that other plans are available as well.

All three plans include unlimited data, "Visual Voicemail," 200 SMS text messages, roll-over minutes, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling, as well as the voice minutes. AT&T and Apple are claiming the Visual Voicemail application as a first that allows users to see a list of voicemail messages and chose the ones they want to hear, rather than having to listen through all of their new messages.

The plans put the iPhone right in line with most of its smartphone rivals from the likes of Palm Inc. , BlackBerry , and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK). They appear to assume, however, that a user will use email rather than text messaging to communicate with friends as the SMS provision is somewhat miserly.

The iPhone also adds another new wrinkle to the process of buying a cell. Instead of waiting for the phone to be activated at the store a new user can sync the device with their iTunes account on a Mac or PC and start it up via the music service, just like an iPod. AT&T will charge a one-time fee of $36 for the pleasure, however, and it does mean that users need to be on iTunes or download the application to get started. [Ed note: iTunes is required if you want to use the phone as an MP3 player anyway.]

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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