Big phones, small bills: A guide to getting the best phones for less
If you're getting bored of frozen apps, pixelated snaps and an inefficient battery, it's easy to stare and sigh whenever you see a mate living it up with the newest, flashiest handset. But smartphones – not to mention flagship devices – can be pretty darn expensive, and with so many tariffs and phones out there, getting the best deal can be very difficult.
Thankfully though, we've got the tips and knowhow you can employ to save a bundle on your phone spending, ensuring your touchscreen doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
What do you want?
A lot of the time, people automatically think that the biggest, baddest and most expensive phone is always the right choice, but this isn't necessarily true.
If you don't take pictures, there's no need to spend big on a phone with a crazy camera. If you're the sort of person who can't stand playing games on anything smaller than a laptop screen, don't bother looking for phones with a souped-up graphics card. And if your idea of a fashionable aesthetic is a white tee and jeans, don't fork out for a curved screen.
Write down what you'll need from your phone, and try and get a vague idea of the amount of data you'll consume over a month. For the latter, according to Confused.com, browsing the web for an hour every day for a month equals around 700MB, social media apps use very little data, while streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify really eat up the data.
Do the proper research
While phone manufacturers and service providers might try hard to wow you with flashy ads, nothing beats searching through the reviews and tables and deciding which phone works for you.
This means getting to grips with phone terminology (click here for uSwitch's handy guide), browsing through smartphone review sites, and looking at customer reviews of the various handsets and service providers you're investigating. Note down any information that catches your eye – pros, cons and specs – as this will make comparing your options easier.
Taking time to read a lot of reviews will make sure you don't waste your cash on a bad phone, and you'll learn things that you can use when you're looking for other replacement phones years down the line, which is always a good thing.
Once you've done the research and found a handset that fits the bill and know the amount of minutes, data and so forth that you'll need each month, it's time to find the best deal.
If you're looking for just a handset, typing the particular make and model into a search engine or a product comparison site will give you an idea of which offers the best value. If you don't mind having a second-hand phone, auction and marketplace sites can also be a useful resource.
For mobile tariffs, sites such as Moneysupermarket.com and uSwitch are very useful resources to compare different deals, just be sure to find customer reviews of the particular provider before you commit – cheap prices can often mean poor service levels. Using MoneySavingExpert.com's useful guide, you could manage to slash the monthly cost or get some extras added to sweeten the deal.
It can be easy to sit on your laurels after getting hold of a sleek handset and a sweet deal, but there's one last thing you should never forget to buy: insurance. With phones costing hundreds of pounds, it makes sense to pay a single-digit sum each month to keep it safe (especially if you're a particularly forgetful or clumsy phone owner!), so check out MoneySavingExpert.com or Moneysupermarket.com to find a good deal.