In the digital age it seems that having smart technology to hand is all part of life in the modern world. With the technological landscape continually evolving, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up-to-date with the latest devices. Smartphones in particular are continually being developed – even a phone purchased only two years earlier may now seem outdated. Whether it’s for the love of techno-joy, or having a job that demands the latest and greatest features of new technology, owning the latest smartphone can be expensive.

SIM only or contract?

There are two main options for purchasing a mobile phone: buying the phone outright or opting into a contract (usually 24-months) with your mobile provider.

As the cost of a smartphone is generally quite substantial (especially for one of the latest flagship phones), contracts are typically the more popular option, as you can avoid the initial upfront cost of the phone itself, opting instead to spread the cost of the handset over the term of the contract.

However, it is only at the end of the 24-month contract that the phone can be upgraded. What’s more, many people find themselves paying the same amount for their contract once their 24-month term has been fulfilled – meaning they continue to pay for a phone they’ve already purchased!

In fact, research by Which’s Unlock Better Mobile Deals campaign has found that £355 million is collectively wasted by those who fail to renegotiate their contract once the duration is complete.

The alternative is to purchase the phone outright and pay the large upfront cost, owning the phone from the outset. This means you can opt into a SIM only tariff, where you only pay a set monthly fee for calls, texts and data, which typically only keeps you tied in for a year.

One of the main benefits of purchasing your handset outright is that it’s yours to do with what you wish. Because you’re not tied into a contract, you can upgrade it whenever you like – you could even sell your existing handset and use the money to put towards the purchase of a new one. 


Regardless of how you purchase the latest smartphone, you may consider taking out mobile phone insurance to cover for it. Insurance policies vary widely for mobile phones, but generally speaking, most will cover you if your phone is stolen or damaged.

You might find that many policies cover you for things such as loss, accidental damage and taking your phone abroad, but these are often optional extras that come with an additional charge.

Insurance for phones typically isn’t that cheap. Premiums for top-of-the-range phones, such as the latest iPhone or Samsung phones can be as high as £14.99 per month. That works out at almost £360 for those on 24-month contract with their mobile provider.

Other expenses

Don’t forget about any other expenses that come along with purchasing a new smartphone. There are numerous optional accessories you may consider purchasing to get the most out of your phone and keep it in top condition:

Case or Cover

You might consider buying a robust case or cover for your new smartphone, to protect the exterior from damage, such as chips, scratches and general wear and tear.


If you listen to music on your phone or catch up with your favourite TV shows on your daily commute, then you might be thinking about investing in a decent set of headphones.

Cloud storage and data backup

Photos, music, contact info – we store so much on our smartphones, it can be a disaster when and if our personal data goes missing. You might think about investing in Cloud storage to regularly back up your data, so if the worst happens, you can get everything back at the touch of a button.

Antivirus software

Even the most tech-savvy person can get caught out by malware, especially as fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated with their attacks.

Security software for phones is a good idea for keeping your personal data safe. Many security apps for smartphones include anti-theft features, enabling you to wipe or lock data on your stolen phone and even locate it if it goes missing.

Your options

Buying a smartphone can be expensive – especially considering the additional costs for insurance and security software.

Entering into a contract with your mobile provider can help you to spread the cost of your handset, but can get you locked into a contract of 24 months, which might mean you end up spending more than you need to for the phone. Additionally, you’ll have to wait at least that amount of time before you’re able to upgrade again.

Purchasing a handset outright can give you a lot more flexibility – you can upgrade whenever you like without being tied into a contract, and you won’t ever pay more than you need to for the phone itself, but you’ll need to have the cash available upfront.

The more sophisticated technology becomes, the more the price and associated costs increase.


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