Modern smartphones are designed to last a while, but there’s always going to come a time when your smartphone is no longer serving its purpose. After a few years of use, it’s not unusual for smartphones to start getting slow and sluggish, have problems charging, or run out of battery life within a really short amount of time. If this sounds like your phone, you might be thinking about getting an upgrade. Maybe you’re coming to the end of your 24-month smartphone contract and are weighing up your options, or perhaps it’s been a while since your contract ended and you’ve just let it roll on, so you’re free to change to something different whenever you like.

New smartphone handsets come in a plethora of different options, with something for everybody. There’s a range of basic, budget handsets ideal for people who like to use their phone for simple things like calling, texting, email, social media, and a couple of games, to high-quality, high-spec smartphone models with outstanding camera capabilities and more. The kind of smartphone handset that you go for will depend on what you tend to use it for the most, your preferences when it comes to the operating system, and the smartphone brands that you like.

The good news is, that no matter which handset you’ve got your eye on, there are plenty of savvy things you can do to try and get a better deal on it.

Buy Your Handset Outright and Opt for SIM Only:

After 24 months of being tied into a contract with your network, you might have your eye on one of the latest iPhone or Samsung releases, but don’t want to spend another two years tied into paying a fairly large amount for it each month. If you’ve got the money available or don’t mind spending a bit of time to save up, it can work out cheaper, in the long run, to buy your smartphone handset outright, and look into SIM-only plans for your minutes, texts, and data instead.

When you buy a contract phone, you’re essentially entering into a hire purchase agreement with the network. Effectively, you are borrowing the money to purchase the handset and this is repaid in your monthly payments, so there’s usually some interest involved. Over two years, you can end up paying a whole lot more for a handset than you’d pay if you bought it all in one go. And, SIM-only plans tend to be far cheaper for a whole lot more. While it’s not unusual to be paying over £50 a month for a handset with a fairly small amount of data, you can get unlimited data, texts and minutes for just £25 with Lebara SIM-only plans. And, since you’re not tied into a contract, you can change your plan month by month to suit your needs. Take a look at these deals, and pick one that’s ideal for you.

Don’t Rule Out Refurbished Handsets:

Newer smartphone models, particularly iPhones, could cost you upwards of £1,000 – so if you’re planning to save up to buy your phone outright, it could be a couple of months before you get there, depending on how much you earn and how much disposable income you can afford to put aside. On the other hand, you can get a better deal purchasing a refurbished iPhone. Refurbished doesn’t necessarily mean that the phone has been damaged in the past. Often, they’re just phones that have been taken out of the box and used for a little while.

If you’re worried about the prospect of getting a refurbished handset that’s been damaged in the past, the best way to get around this is to make sure that you buy from a reputable retailer or even from the manufacturer directly. Apple, for example, have a section on their website dedicated to selling refurbished devices, and you can trust them to put a lot of care and attention into making sure that their refurbished tech is done to a high standard using authentic parts, compared to a random seller on eBay, for example.

Consider Purchasing a Second-Hand Smartphone:

Another option that you might want to consider is buying a preloved smartphone from somebody else. It’s great if you can buy a phone from a friend or family member who’s looking to change their handset, as you’ll know if the phone has been looked after, compared to buying one from a stranger.

But that being said, you can still get some great deals when buying from sellers on sites like Gumtree, eBay or Facebook Marketplace. If you’re buying on eBay, check the seller’s ratings and reviews before you buy the phone, and don’t be afraid to send them a message with any questions that you might have. Buying in-person is a more ideal choice since this gives you the chance to check the phone over before you decide whether or not to make the purchase. Look for any obvious signs of damage, such as lines on the screen, cracks, or buttons that don’t work. Make a call using the phone to check that the microphone and earpiece are working well and use the loudspeaker or play some music to check the speaker quality. Check that the phone charges when plugging it in.

One of the downsides of getting a second-hand phone is that it might be damaged, and since it’s not been refurbished, you’re buying it as seen. Sometimes, this might not be much of an issue — a couple of scuffs on the back of the phone can be easily covered with a case, for example. On the other hand, a crack along the screen might be a problem. However, you might consider spending a little more to get it repaired if the price is right.

New and Existing Customer Contract Deals:

Finally, if you enjoy getting the best smartphone handsets brand new and don’t mind making a monthly payment for it, then shop around for both new and existing customer contract deals. If you are coming to the end of your current contract, get in touch with your network to see if they have any upgrade offers that you can take advantage of. Phone networks are some of the best companies out there for rewarding loyalty, and you can usually get some fantastic deals just for sticking with them.

However, it’s also worth spending some time shopping around since networks often run deals and exclusive offers for new customers, too. Rather than upgrading your handset with your current phone network, it might be cheaper to get a new contract on a different one. Look out for the latest deals and compare prices to ensure that you’re not paying more than you need to. Bear in mind that if you decide to switch to a different network than the one you’re currently using and would like to keep your same phone number, you will need to get a PAC code. You will need to request this from your current network and then pass it on to your new network who will switch the number over, which may take a couple of days.

When it comes to getting an upgrade on your smartphone, there are plenty of options to consider. The one you choose will depend on your preferences, circumstances, and how much money you’d like to save.


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