Student mobile

A buyers guide by iceman_jondoe

Since we get so many people in the mobile phone forum asking about what phone, tariff etc. They should get, we’ve created this article to make it easier for people. If you're looking for a new mobile phone/tariff please look here first!!

Should I get a Pay as you go or a Contract phone?

This will depend on your budget really. There are a number of benefits as well as flaws to having either.

Benefits of a Contract:

  • When you sign up the phone is often free.
  • Call costs tend to be cheaper
  • From my own experience of the mobile industry you tend to get better customer service although some may not agree with this.
  • You also can upgrade, normally before but always at the end of your 12/18/24 month contract, and it should be free.
  • You even get cheaper international calls.
  • If you want a new phone early, or a different provider or a better deal, then independent companies such as Intek, Carphone, JAG, Phones For You, etc., can arrange buy outs where they pay for the remaining months of your old contract if you take out a new one. This is dependent on how long you have left, of course.

Disadvantages of a Contract:

  • You’re tied into an 12/18/24 month contract.
  • Calls to 08xx, 09xx etc numbers aren't included, nor are international calls a lot of the time - so may not be suited to someone who is often calling (or texting!) such numbers as you will always be going over your line rental spend.
  • If you try to cancel your contract early you could risk facing quite a large cancellation fee (which is often the line rental for the remaining months of your contract).
  • If you just ignore your phone bills you could risk getting a poor credit rating.
  • If your phone is stolen you must make sure you get it blocked by the network or someone could run up a huge bill which you will have to pay for. For this reason it may be wise in investing in phone insurance; however this does come at an additional cost as you would expect. So again it depends on your budget.

Benefits of Pay as you go:

  • No risk of running up a phone bill, that tends to be peoples number one concern when entering a contract for the first time. There are contracts known as UFIX contracts (see T-mobile site) which may get around this problem however :).
  • You may be able to budget easier.
  • Pay as you go's tend to be ideal for fairly low end mobile phone users.
  • Insurance is cheaper

Disadvantages of Pay as you go:

  • You have to pay for a phone when you get it. Which can be pricey.
  • Calls are much more expensive, especially internationally.
  • No possibility of an upgrade for free.

Should I get a 12, 18 or 24 month contract?

This will depend on your budget but also how long you plan to say in the country for (if you're from abroad and also how many minutes you use) 18 month contracts tend to be better value for money than 12 month contracts. By that I mean you tend to get more minutes more texts and a wider choice of phones available for 18 month contracts. For example £35 pounds a month on O2 on a 12 month contract will get you 400 minutes and 100 texts (roughly) on an 18 month contract you get 600 minutes and unlimited texts (if you choose that instead of O2 to O2 calls) for the same value of £35p/m. On some networks 24 months contracts are also worth looking at, e.g. Orange, where it drops the tariff by £5p/m, and you can even get unlimited texts and 100 minutes for £15p/m. It also depends on how soon you want to upgrade or how patient you are for the latest phones etc. 12 months (on Orange) is upgradable at 9 months, 18 at 15, and 24 at 21. However, you will be able to get a better phone for cheaper on a longer contract length. You will also get a better discount upon upgrading - generally speaking - if you go for 18 or 24 months ones.

Alternatively, it is possible to get a SIM only rolling contract, which requires you to pay for a phone/use your current one, but with no minimum term. They require merely 30 days notice to cancel, but give a lot more value for money. For example, O2's £25 p/m Simplicity contract, currently being sold at £20, gives 600 minutes, 400 texts and a choice of bolt ons such as Free O2 to O2 calls, unlimited texts or reduced international calls.

What if I break my phone or it gets damaged?

Carphone warehouse are able to fix all phone problems from software to cracked LCDs. If your phone has a software problem and by that i mean it freezes, crashes, Battery doesn’t last long. Take it into Carphone warehouse and provided your phone is under a year old and you have the receipt to prove it then they will be able to fix the problem for you free of charge by doing what is known as a "software flash" , however in doing so this wipes off any info you have on the phones, so it would be wise to backup your data beforehand. You have a one year manufacturer's warranty on most phones, two years on most new Nokias and Sony Ericsson, which is why any problems to do with software are fixed for free provided the phones under the warrantee.

If you break your phone you can claim it on your insurance, or if you don’t have any insurance it can be fixed for a fee of 45 pounds from Carphone (though i think this is a rip off and you should get it done elsewhere) or 85 pounds for any data phone (again a bit of a rip off). If you damage your phone through liquid then it cant be repaired at all. Its time to get a new phone if that happens!!. There are small shops certainly around London which can repair phones for you at a cheaper rate.

Feel free to add any suggestions of you're own and i can keep this page updated. Furthermore If you have any questions regarding latest handsets or are about to ask "looking to upgrade, which phone.." and "need a new phone.." questions, ask away here!.