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Friday, March 2, 2012

Where to Get a Phone?

Once you've decided on your preferred phone model, you can choose to sign up for a contract with a network provider (in which case the cost of the phone will usually be subsidized or waived completely) or buy the phone outright and use a pay-as-you-go SIM. It's worth considering how much you use your current phone and whether you really need to be tied in to an often expensive and lengthy (12-, 18- or 24-month) contract, or if you'd like the relative freedom of pay-and-go.

Signing up for a Contract

When choosing a phone contract there are some obvious factors to consider: What's the monthly cost? How many call minutes do you get? How many free texts? What's your monthly data allowance? Are there any extras? Deciding which deal to go for depends on how you're likely to use your phone: are you more of a talker or a texter? If you know you're going to be mainly on the Internet, or intend to make extensive use of your new phone's navigation abilities and other web services, then it's worth shopping around for the best 3G data deal. Unlimited data deals, once the norm, have become increasingly rare.

The major network carriers have branches in most major towns and cities, so you can easily walk in and pick up a phone on the spot. There are also one-stop shops like the Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U in the UK, and Walmart in the US, where you can peruse offers from various carriers in one place and pick the one that suits you best.

In the UK:
Carphone Warehouse carphonewarehouse.com
Phones4u phones4u.co.uk

In the US:
Walmart walmart.com
Best Buy bestbuy.com

It's also well worth shopping online. Apart from the carriers' own websites, there are some phone comparison sites that resell the same package deals you'd get in-store but with substantial discounts or cashback incentives that could cut the cost of running your phone by up to a third over the life of the contract.

Authorized online agents are paid commissions by carriers to bring in new customers and offer a simplified credit application process and often give discounted phone prices.

In the US:
Point point.com
Let's Talk letstalk.com
Al Wireless al wireless.com

In the UK:
The Phone Network thephonenetwork.co.uk
Mobiles UK mobiles.co.uk
One Stop Phone Shop onestopphoneshop.co.uk

If you're in the US and want to get out of your existing contract it may be possible to sell on the remaining months of your deal through one of several online reseller programs:  
Cell Trade USA celltradeusa.com
Cell Swapper cellswapper com

Or, in the UK:
Cell Swapper uk.cellswapper.com

Buying without a contract
If you want to skip taking out a long-term phone contract and use a pay-as-you-go service or rolling monthly contract, it pays to shop around for the best price on a new handset. Try a price-comparison agent such as, in the US:
Google— Product Search google.com/products
PriceWatch pricewatch.com

In the UK, price-comparison agents include:  
Kelkoo kelkoo.co.uk
Shopping.com uk.shopping.com

Some online retailers tend to make quick deliveries and offer a reliable returns service, including the best-known of all:
Amazon US amazon.com
Amazon UK amazon.co.uk

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