The cost of mobile phones has soared as technology has improved. We have put together our top tips to make sure you don't pay more than you need to.
Mobile phones have become more than just a means to contact people in an emergency.
Technology has warped them into a source of news, a way to track our health, order a taxi, listen to music, watch TV and do our shopping on the go.
Unfortunately however as they have got smarter, the cost has soared and you can now pay a just shy of £1,000 for a top-of-the range handset.
But staying wise to a few of tricks could save you a small fortune - here are our top tips to lowering the cost.
Are you paying too much? Don't let your network take you for a ride and compare prices before you commit to your next contract
1) Get out quick to avoid rip-off repayments
One of the easiest ways for your mobile provider to make money out of you, is if you forget to switch at the end of your existing contract.
Traditional contracts will take the cost of your handset and spread it out over a 24 month term through your monthly payments.
Once you reach the end of this period however, your monthly payments won't drop automatically despite clearing the cost of the phone.
You will continue to pay the same high price unless you cancel or upgrade and lock into a new contract.
|iPhone 7 32GB||£50 off with code DT50OFFI7||24-month contract with via mobiles.co.uk||3GB of data, unlimited minutes and texts||£150 upfront. £27 per month .|
|Samsung S8 64GB||£35 off with code DT35OFFS8||24-month contract with Vodafone via mobiles.co.uk||£170 upfront, £27.00 per month|
|Sim-only||Includes roaming, bill capping and data rollover||30 day contract with Carphone Warehouse-owned network ID||1.5GB data ,500 minutes, 5000 texts||£5.00 per month|
|Sim-only||30 day contract with The People's Operator||2GB data, 1000 minutes, unlimited texts||£5.99 per month|
|Sim-only||30 day contract with Virgin Mobile||4GB data 1500 minutes, unlimited texts||£9.00 per month|
|Source: Broadband choices, correct as of 04/08/2017|
2) Don't settle for less
The end of your contract most people will choose to upgrade to a new handset and take out a new contract to bundle to costs together.
Paying monthly is more affordable for most people, with handsets costing as much as £800 or £900 these days. But it can be the most expensive option overall.
If you are willing to stick with the same phone you will save a small fortune. Alternatively you could consider buying a slightly older model or a refurbished phone to keep a lid on costs (see below).
But if you do choose to take out a pay-monthly contract it is key that you make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
Whatever you do, don’t just accept your current network’s first offer.
This is Money has a mobile-finder tool you can use to compare contract prices, powered by out carefully chosen partner service, Broadband Choices.
You can fast track to your network’s best offer usually by telling them you are going to leave.
So if you want to stay with the same network use the knowledge you have gained by comparing prices to negotiate a better deal.
Most of us will have an old box or drawer of our old mobiles.
But selling your 'back-up' could help cut the effective cost of buying a new phone.
Some companies will offer money off your contract or handset for trading in an old mobile.
Make sure you compare prices online though as you could raise more cash by selling it yourself through sites such as eBay or Gumtree.
You could also try specialist price comparison site Sell My Mobile.
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3) Pay upfront but save overall
The most cost-efficient way to buy a mobile, particularly the newest handsets, is to pay for the phone upfront and then take out a sim-only deal.
This is because although you have to shell out for the handset upfront, your calls, texts and data package will usually be much cheaper.
A SIM- only deal will typically offer much more flexibility, with the option of shorter 12-month contracts or even rolling monthly deals, leaving you free to switch to a cheaper option if one pops up.
Or even better, stick with the same phone.
Of course if you are not fussed about upgrading to the latest handset you can also take out a new Sim-only contract and avoid shelling out for a new smartphone altogether.
4) The best of both is possible
Borrowing of any kind should be carefully considered, especially using credit cards where interest costs can quickly spiral if the account is not well managed. But if used sensibly, you can use a credit card to spread the cost of a handset.
You could consider using a 0 per cent interest credit card. These come with a promotional period where the card provider waives interest on your balance, allowing you to make a purchase and stagger payments without adding to the cost.
The longest deal available is currently 32 months. You can read more about the top deals in our round up here.
Or skip to our search tool using the link below to compare the best credit cards for you.
For this to work though you need to make sure you clear the debt in time before the standard interest kicks in.
The best way to do this is to work out how much you need to repay each month, set up a direct debit and leave the card at home to make sure you don’t add any more spending to it.
There are a couple of companies offering similar deals.
There are other finance companies offering ways to spread the cost of the phone, including Paypal (which has special finance options on Samsung and Apple phones) and Unshackled, but they do come at a cost as they charge interest.
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5) Pick the right time of year to buy
Don’t want to spend the earth to get the newest handset but your phone has given up the ghost? You could consider opting for a handset that’s not the latest generation.
Phone companies bring out tempting new versions of their popular phones at the same time every year.
For example, the latest iPhone update is expected to come out in September this year, and Samsung released its newest S8 phone this Spring, with a new one expected at the same time next year.
The price of the previous generations will start to drop shortly after a new phone is released, so time your purchase right to avoid paying inflated prices.
6) Second hand doesn't have to mean second best
You could also consider buying a refurbished model.
Some of these will be faulty models that have been returned and repaired or resold by customers when they upgrade, or if they were offered an upgrade they didn’t want.
You will usually be able to choose what level or refurbished handset you want – as new, almost perfect and more worn second hand mobiles.
These are typically phones customers have returned because of a fault if bought from a network or even been resold after an unneeded upgrade.
All will typically all have been repaired and checked before you buy them, and come with a warranty should something go wrong.
If you do choose one of these phones remember to read the warranty small print though as the terms and conditions will differ.
You will also need to check your insurance if you have or want specific mobile cover.
Some networks deem a refurbished phone as 'new' but others class them as used and may not cover them.
Again, timing is everything - the best time to buy a refurbished handset will typically after a new handset has been released when everyone has upgraded.
Sky's Unlimited Broadband deal comes with up to 17 Mbps speeds and a free £50 prepaid Mastercard. It costs £18.99 per month for 12 months. £19.95 setup fee applies. At the end of the contract the price jumps to £28.99 per month
Plusnet's Unlimited Fibre package offers up to 36Mbps speeds and free calls to other Plusnet phone customers. It costs £24.99 per month with no setup fee. At the end of the contract the price jumps to £33.98 per month
Talk Talk's TV with Faster Broadband and Sky Sports package comes with up to 18 Mbps speeds and free weekend calls. It costs £28.45 per month fixed for 18 months. At the end of the contract the price of sport jumps to £59.50 per month
Virgin Media's Vivid 100 Fibre Broadband deal comes with up to 100 Mbps speeds. It costs £31 per month on an 12 month contract. Prices will rise by £3.99 from November 1. £20 setup fee applies. At the end of the contract the price jumps to £40 per month
John Lewis' Unlimited Broadband with Phone comes with up to 17 Mbps speeds with free evening and weekend calls It costs £20 per month on an 12 month contract. At the end of the contract the price jumps to £26.50 per month