There seems little doubt that the market for mobile phones in the UK is saturated and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The problem for the consumer is trying to make sense of all the available deals on the market, and this is a somewhat daunting task. The contract market appears to be divided in to two main categories. Those that give free gifts and those that give free or reduced line rentals for up to the term of the contract, or a combination of both. Which deal the individual goes for depends on their perspective; the very latest phone, the best free gift or monetary savings.
If you want the very latest feature rich phone complete with ‘wings and bells’, in order to get it free, you will normally have to contract in to an expensive tariff. The bonus side of changing phones annually is that they can be resold easily after the contract expires and a newer phone is again sought. For example, a Nokia 7270 released about 14 months ago in the UK, can be sold today for around 50.
If you fancy a free PS2, Sat Nav system or LCD television, you will notice that the competition has heated up so much, that the value of the free gifts has risen greatly.
If saving money is your main concern, and you are prepared to take a phone that has perhaps been out for 3-4 months, but still feature rich with cameras, radios, MP3 etc., then you can get free line rental for the full 12 months of a 12 month contract (Orange do a free deal for the duration of an 18 month contract). Please note, you are strongly encouraged to check the small-print for these deals carefully, as you may be required to pay itemised billing, insurance etc. You also have to be quite organised, as you do have to pay the line rental payments (this can be as little as 20 a month), and claim it back in 3 or 4 payments over the year. My current personal favourite on one of these deals is the slimline Motorola RAZR v3 for 30 a month with 200 xnet minutes and 100 texts (doubled for the first 3 months).
Therefore, it is possible to get your free phone, your line rental and all your calls for peanuts, and if you are really canny, it’s possible not to pay anything for the whole year! Just don’t go over your included minutes and texts, as the cost of these is quite high. Most of the offers are found on O2, Orange and 3 with a few on Tmobile. Of note is that Vodafone don’t appear to offer any of this type of deal.
OK, so you’re ready to switch your phone, decide first whether you want a particular phone, a particular free gift or the possibility of a free phone and free calls for a year. Once you have done that, just search for it, there are plenty of web-sites out there just waiting to help you! Finally, remember to change your phone again after the year and get another deal, hanging on is one of the ways the companies do make money! At the very least, try and negotiate with your present provider, you might be surprised at what they will offer to keep you, especially if you know what is currently available. Good luck!
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