If you’re in the market for a new mobile phone deal or are due an upgrade, this guide should help you navigate the plethora of deals available.
Shopping for a new mobile phone can be daunting.
With so many handsets to choose from and websites boasting about how many hundreds of thousands of packages they offer, it’s hard to know whether you’re getting a good deal.
As most people are already on a contract plan, this often leads to them simply accepting the first thing their network offers them when their upgrade comes around.
Although this makes for a quiet life, it can end up costing you a bomb, especially if you’re on a 24 month contract.
We’ve enlisted the help of Mark Bridge, mobile phone expert and podcast producer at thefonecast.com, to help you feel happy and confident in your new mobile package.
The right handset
The first thing you should be sure about is the handset that you want.
There’s a lot of choice available, from simple call and text devices to all-singing, all-dancing internet enabled smartphones.
Think about the features that you want to phone to have. You don’t want your new phone to be missing something you need or be too complicated for you to use.
Bridge says: "Don’t get carried away by paying for flashy features you may never need. At the moment, many manufacturers are emphasising screen size and processor speed.
"A larger display is often easier to use, but it can be easier to break, too. The processor is the heart of your phone, so it’s worth looking for high specifications if you expect it to handle several things at once.
"And remember to ask about battery life – even the smartest phone is useless when the power runs out!"
Once you’re sure of the features you want and don’t want, you’ll feel more comfortable if you have to speak to a sales person and won’t be pressured into buying a phone you don’t want.
The right contract deal
Now you’ve settled on the type of phone you want, it’s time to get the ideal contract.
First off, decide how many calls, texts and how much internet data you really need. The best way to do this is by taking a good look at any previous bills you might have and working out your average usage.
If you’re new to internet enabled phones and are wondering how much data you’ll need, read our article, Smartphone data: How much do you need?
Bridge says: "There’s no point in choosing a tariff that’s too small – and no point in paying for more than you need.
"Bear in mind that the phone you choose may affect the monthly cost, so make sure you’re comparing the complete package.
"If you don’t want a new phone, you’ll find attractive deals for customers who are keeping their old phone for another year or two.
"Remember that you can move your number to a different network, so there’s no requirement to stick with the company you originally chose.
"Finally, if you don’t like the deal you’ve been offered, ask if there’s a better one available. Some mobile networks keep special offers ‘under the counter’ and only suggest them when a customer threatens to leave."
Don’t feel like you have to compromise on your contract package as there are all sorts of combination deals out there and you can usually get exactly what you want.
The right extras
Apart from all the cases and screen protectors and other hardware bits, the main extra you’ll be faced with making a decision about is insurance.
Buying it from your network will probably mean the convenience of a high street store to take your broken mobile into, but the cost can be high.
The other option is to go with a third party. They often have very attractive deals but varying levels of cover.
Bridge says: "Make sure you’re insuring the ‘SIM-free’ price. This is how much you’d pay for a new phone without signing a new contract.
"Make sure you check the level of cover, too. Just like car insurance and house insurance, different policies offer different levels of protection. For example, does it cover pickpockets? What happens if you lose your phone but don’t know exactly where?
"It’s essential to read the policy carefully before you sign up."