Monday, June 6, 2011     17:19

Simple Phones on Contract

You may have a certain mobile in mind but if not - and you're more interested in getting the best price - here are the best deals around at the moment on all simple phones.

The deals are ordered by the total amount you will pay over the life of the contract, taking into account any money-back deals on line rental (usually done by redemption - if you don't know how that works read about it on our Buying Tips page here as it can save a lot of money but only if you know what you're doing and are organised enough).

Best Simple Phone Contract Deals

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More About Mobile Contracts

If you've never had a mobile contract before you may find the whole thing a bit confusing, so here is a bit more information on how phone contracts work - we'll assume no knowledge at all...

There are two important elements to mobile phones - the phone itself, sometimes called the handset, and the SIM card. The SIM card is the thing that gives the phone a telephone number, and allows you to use the 'airspace' one of the mobile networks to make calls. Mobile phones to buy outright cost anywhere between around £30 for some of the simple ones on this site to £400-500 for a really good smartphone, so while you can just buy one and take a SIM card from one of the networks separately, most people prefer to take out a contract with a network instead. In doing this you are committing to pay a certain monthly fee for a fixed length of time - either 12, 18 or (more commonly now) 24 months, and this is a committment as you are bound to pay it even if you move abroad or decide you don't want a phone any more. In return for this committment of income from you the network will happily subsidise, either partly or fully, the price of the handset - if they know you are going to be paying them, say, £25 a month for 2 years then it's worth it for them to pay for your phone to get you on board as a customer. The chances are you will spend more than your rental on extra calls and probably stay with them for longer than the contract length too.

So in a nutshell, here is how contracts work;

  • • You commit to a 12, 18 or 24 month contract with a network
  • • You pay a set monthly fee for an agreed amount of inclusive calls, texts and sometimes data
  • • Note if you go over your agreed calls, texts or data for the month you pay for those extras
  • • The network (or retailer on behalf of the network) subsidises the cost of the phone - that's why you often see the phone advertised as 'free'
  • • When you reach the end of the contract you can either negotiate an upgrade (a new phone and possibly different allowances) or go to another network as a new customer

Here are the alternatives to a contract;

  • • Buy the phone outright (SIM free) and arrange a SIM only deal with a network. These can be on a rolling 30 day basis or a 12 month contract for better value. SIM only deals are here
  • • Pay As You Go - you buy the phone at a slightly subsidised price with a network SIM card and (usually) £10 worth of airtime or credit. You then 'top up' your credit when you need to but there's no obligation. See the Pay As You Go page here