Mobile networks make their money by signing you up to lengthy contracts. On the face of it this is a reasonable trade off – you don’t have to pay the $700 (£530 in UK) upfront and in exchange they let you pay for your device and your airtime over a longer period. It’s an easy option and many of us are trapped in the same cycle of sticking with our current supplier and upgrading once every couple of years. Rather shockingly in the UK 48% of mobile network customers have never switched network and could save £5.42bn every year just by being on the right tariff. This means we’re either paying for stuff we don’t use or being charged as our airtime plan does not include enough allowances of minutes, data, and/or texts. So are you better off buying a SIM Free Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (or other SIM Free Samsung Galaxy Mobile) or sticking to the ol’faithful – the mobile phone contract? Here we explore three of the options:
1. The bog standard contract
We’ve all had one of these. The cost of both your shiny new Samsung smartphone and your airtime is rolled up into one monthly sum. Depending on your network you may not be able to downgrade during your contract but if you want to upgrade that’s just fine.
THE GOOD BITS:
- One easy monthly payment
- You may be able to opt for an upfront payment to lower monthly costs
- Upgrade your tariff whenever you like
- The phone is yours at the end of the contract
THE BAD BITS:
- It’s hard to tell how much the network is charging you for your smartphone and for your tariff as the two are combined into one monthly payment.
- As everything is rolled into one monthly payment if you let the contract continue past the minimum term you are effectively still paying for a smartphone you’ve already fully bought. You therefore must upgrade straight after your contract ends and not wait – alternatively you will need to ask your network to move you to a SIM only deal. They won’t do it automatically.
- You can often not downgrade your tariff beyond your initial choice during the minimum term
- It’s common practice to be given a SIM Locked Samsung smartphone – this means that your device is locked to the network.
- Should you wish to upgrade before the end of your minimum contract term you’ll have to pay for all remaining months. This means you have to pay for airtime you haven’t used.
- Never accept an offer from your current network without shopping around
- See how much the smartphone costs on Amazon (i.e. Galaxy S7 Edge). Divide that price by the total number of months in the contract (i.e. 24). Take that away from the monthly payments and you are left with what the mobile network is charging you for it’s services.
- If switching networks take a look at a cashback websites first – this can sometimes dramatically lower the cost. Our favourite one in the UK is Quidco (get £5 cashback just by signing up – click here)
- When upgrading unlock your old Samsung Smartphone and either give it to a mate or flog it for cash (it’ll be worth more unlocked). Ask your network or save 20% off DoctorSIM‘s SIM Unlocking service by clicking here.
2. The Flexible Contract
Recently we’ve seen the rise of the new Flexible Smartphone Contract. These try and bridge the gap between the bog standard contract and buying your Samsung Galaxy S7 SIM Free. The difference is that your smartphone and airtime are split into two contracts. You are only tied to your airtime contract whilst your paying off your smartphone. You’ll still have a minimum term which the smartphone payments are split over. T-Mobile offer these contracts in the US whilst O2 and Tesco offer them in the UK.
THE GOOD BITS
- Easier to understand what you’re paying for every month
- Upgrade your phone whenever you like – just pay off the smartphone agreement and you are released from your contract (no airtime charges to cancel).
- Upgrade your tariff whenever you like
- The phone is yours to keep once you have settled the smartphone agreement
- Once the minimum term is up your smartphone payments stop automatically as it’s a seperate agreement – unlike the bog standard contract which would continue charging you as it’s all rolled up into one agreement.
THE BAD BITS
- You may not be able to downgrade airtime tariffs
- You are tied to the network until you have paid off the smartphone
- It’s common practice to SIM Lock smartphones – there’s often a fee for SIM unlocking
- Always shop around – never accept the first offer.
- Compare the smartphone price to what you see on Amazon.
- Don’t forget to check cashback websites for savings (i.e. Quidco in UK)
- If upgrading early sell your old Samsung smartphone and use the money to pay off some of the upgrade. Unlocked Samsung Smartphones will usually sell for more (click here for 20% DoctorSIM Discount)
3. SIM Free Samsung Mobile
Buying your Samsung Mobile SIM Free is the way to ensure ultimate flexibility. You pay for the full price of the smartphone upfront and then choose a pay-as-you-go or SIM only deal which suits. You can then upgrade whenever you like – selling your old smartphone to offset the new one.
THE GOOD BITS
- Upgrade your smartphone and change your tariff whenever you like
- It’s easier to shop around and get the best deal – all you are looking for is the best airtime tariff as you’ve already paid for the phone
- No need to get your Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge SIM unlocked! As you have not bought it from a mobile network it will not be tied to a network.
THE BAD BITS
- As mobile networks still make some money from selling you a smartphone this may not always be the best deal. You still need to shop around.
- The first time you go SIM Free the upfront payment is a b**ch! That said once you are in the cycle of buying a new model and selling your old one it’s relatively pain free.
- It requires a bit more effort
- Always compare buying SIM Free against getting a contract. If it’s not cheaper, and you don’t need the flexibility, getting a contract might be the better way to go.
- Check out cashback sites (i.e. Quidco in UK) for extra savings on SIM Only airtime tariffs. You can often save money by opting for a 12 month SIM Only tariff rather than a 1 month rolling.
- If you are swapping from a flexible contract to a SIM Free mobile it might be worth buying the smartphone outright but sticking with the airtime deal you currently have as it’s now effectively a SIM Only contract. This might work out cheaper than opting for a new SIM Only contract.
Remember always shop around and never accept a deal over the phone if your current network is proactively ringing you. Ask them to note the offer on your file. It will be there if you want to ring them back and go for it. If you are selling your old mobile SIM Unlocking it first will probably make you more money – for a 20% DoctorSIM Discount click here. Always look at all three options and remember to first check cashback sites (i.e. Quidco in UK) and the cost of the smartphone on Amazon.
Any more suggestions? Feel free to comment below.