Contract mobile phones are one of the best ways to get a really up-to-date handset and a great deal on your calls, texts and internet. With a mobile contract, you could get the latest Nokia, Samsung, HTC or Sony Ericsson mobiles far cheaper than if you were getting a Pay As You Go mobile - in some cases the handsets are free.
With so many good value deals on contracts across all the networks, it can be tough choosing a handset and contract combination. Our guide should help you understand how to get exactly what you are after in a contract mobile phone.
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What is a mobile phone contract?
A contract mobile phone means that you pay a single monthly fee for a fixed period of time. Most mobile phone contracts are set at either 18 or 24 months and provide mobile customers with a cheap tariff and a great new handset.
When opting to go for a mobile phone contract, you choose the package of minutes and texts that you think will best suit you, and you pay a fixed price for them every month.
Ever-improving mobile phone technology means that mobile internet access can all now also be included as part of your mobile contract. If you like to use your phone to surf the internet, access your social networks and stream multimedia content on the go, then you can pick a contract that comes with a generous data allowance to meet your needs.
Most contracts can offer these features either inclusively, or as an extra. Providers offer bolt-ons like "unlimited texts per month" or "5GB of data", which cost a fixed fee and are added to your basic contract plan.
The great thing about a mobile phone contract is that you never have to think about topping up your mobile phone or worry about running out of credit. Even if you find that you use up the inclusive minutes in your contract, you can still use your phone to make calls or send texts and will be billed for those calls and texts at the end of the month.
Read our guide to pick the best phone contract that meets your needs.
Why choose a contract?
The main reason is to get a free handset. These are available with almost any mobile phone contract, and there is always an excellent range of handsets to choose from. Whatever type of phone user you are and whatever type of handset you want, you will be able to find it with a competitive contract deal from most of the major mobile phone networks.
If you want the very latest mobile handset, it is worth bearing in mind that you may have to pay a small one-off fee on top of the contract fee when you sign up. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but sometimes there is a price to pay for owning the newest mobile phone on the market.
Cheaper mobile phone bills
Mobile contracts usually offer more competitive deals on calls and texts than Pay As You Go deals. Even though you will be charged for any calls and texts over those included in your contract, most people find that whatever network they are with, they still get a cheaper mobile phone deal by switching to a mobile phone contract from a Pay As You Go phone.
Free line rental deals
The fierce competition between mobile phone networks means that they have to offer great incentives for you to sign up for a long-term deal. Most of the major mobile networks offer free line rental contracts.
Extras and Free Gifts
Many mobile networks offer a range of extras and free gifts when you sign up for a contract mobile phone with them. For example, you may get a hands free headset or accessories pack thrown in.
The recent trend has seen more exciting free gifts thrown in with contracts. These days you may even find that you are able to get gifts like iPod Nanos, Playstation 3s and, Xbox 360s. Some even offer a free laptop.
Compare all mobile phone contracts with free gifts at uSwitch now.
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You can also read our guide to the best mobile contracts for more information.