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How to save money on your mobile phone

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woman using smartphone

It’s always important to keep an eye on your finances. If you think you’re spending too much and want to cut back on some of your outgoings, it might be worth having a closer look at your mobile phone bill.

Mobile phones are certainly a necessity, but with some savvy moves and figuring out exactly what you need from a mobile plan, you should be able to shave a few pounds off your monthly expenses.

Here at Uswitch, we’re experts at finding the right plan, so we’ve come up with some handy tips that might help you save money on your mobile phone.

Choosing the right smartphone

stack of phones contract smartphones

Getting the very latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy is an exciting prospect, but do you really need to get the flagship device as soon as it comes out?

Nowadays, it’s the norm for premium smartphones to cost over the £1,000 mark on their release, which will mean paying either a huge upfront fee or a really hefty monthly bill.

Instead, why not consider last year’s flagships instead? After all, last year’s iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S phone will be almost as good as this year’s. And, as soon as a manufacturer releases a new phone, it’ll often drop the price of its slightly older models. So you might be able to get a bit of a bargain.

But even if you’ve got your heart set on getting one of the newest iPhone or Samsung, there are still ways to save money.

Top tier phones often come in a range, with a few options to choose from. For instance, while deals for the iPhone 11 Pro Max can cost upwards of £60 a month, the iPhone 11 can be yours for around £30 a month. That’s a big saving. And while the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the edge on specs, the iPhone 11 is still one of the best phones you can buy, with great design and enough features to keep even serious smartphone fans happy.

Mid-range gains

iPhone SE 2 back board

There are some great smartphones outside of the premium bracket too - with surprisingly good specs and features at excellent prices.

In fact, the mid-range smartphone market has been blossoming over the last year. Apple surprised everyone earlier in the year when it shock-dropped the new 2020 iPhone SE. One of the cheapest phones the company has ever released, the iPhone SE has a superb camera and Apple’s trademark design but comes at a price tag of just £419 - almost half the price of the iPhone 11.

Samsung also has some attractive options in its mid-range bracket. The Galaxy A series has some real gems with the standout being the Samsung Galaxy A70, which you can get on deals for less than £25 a month.

Brands like Oppo, OnePlus and Honor also have some great options in the mid-range bracket, so if you shop around you can find some handy devices that don’t cost a fortune.

Know your data allowance

Getting a package with big data is always enticing, but do you really need a 100GB? Do you even need 20GB?

Calculating how much data you actually need is another good way to save money on your mobile phone. If you’re not that techy and find the talk of data allowances and GBs a bit confusing, here are a couple of tips that might help you out.

For a start, if you head to your mobile network’s website and log into your account you should be able to check your monthly data usage.

Want to know how much data you need? Check out our data calculator tool

Another thing to do is open up the settings menu on your phone and have a look at which of your apps are using up the most data. If you find you have a lot of unused data at the end of each month, it might be worth dropping down to a lower allowance.

You should also check if your network allows for any of your unused data to be rolled over into the next month. For instance Sky Mobile allows its customers to save any data they haven’t used in their ‘Data Piggybank’ for up to three years, for use whenever they like.

Check out our guide on mobile data allowances

Wait for the super sales

Black Friday mobile phone deals Uswitch

Another great way to save money on you mobile is picking the right time to buy. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have evolved from niche sales to global retailer events - practically all the shops and brands get involved and you can pick some great bargains on smartphones, pay monthly deals, SIM only offers and more.

Stay tuned to Uswitch as we’ll guide you through all the best Black Friday deals as soon as we hear about them.

Switch to SIM-only

One of the best ways to save money on a mobile phone is to switch to SIM-only when your pay monthly contract is up. Sure, upgrading to a brand new smartphone on a new contract is really exciting and it’s always nice getting the latest piece of tech. But if you’re happy with the phone you have then SIM-only represents a real money saver.

With a SIM-only deal you’ll get minutes, texts and data as usual, but for much less as you’re not covering the cost of the phone. You can get some really good deals with big allowances for the fraction of the price of a pay monthly package.

Check out all our best SIM-only deals

Get a refurbished phone

Switching to SIM-only is certainly a great way to save money, but there’s no denying how exciting it is to get a new phone. Maybe you’ve had your current handset a while and it’s in need of an upgrade, or maybe you just have your eye on one of the latest models. Going pay monthly is usually the easiest route, but there are other options if you want to save a bit of money.

Buying a new smartphone outright is usually quite expensive, especially if you're after one of the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy devices. Have you considered buying a refurbished smartphone?

Refurbished smartphones are cheaper than brand new ones as they may have been pre-owned, had a fault that was since repaired or simply not wanted. They can vary in condition and you might not get all the accessories but if you buy from a reputable seller you should get a warranty.

Check out our guide to buying a refurbished smartphone for more info

Put a cap on your spending

If you’re prone to going over your allowances and ending up getting additional charges, look into putting a fixed cap on your account. This way you’ll get a notification when you’re nearing your limit so you know you need to watch your calls and internet use. You could also ask your network to cap your data so you’re not able to go over your limit.

Add ons and perks

There are more ways to save money on your mobile phone than you might think. Aside from getting a cheaper phone, or switching to a low cost contract, have you thought about picking a deal that comes with great bonuses?

These days a lot of phone packages come with really attractive perks, such as free access to big name streaming services.

A lot of us have a number of subscriptions for entertainment and music, so if you find a deal that comes with even six months free access to a chosen service, that’s a decent bit of money saved over that period.

If you’re a frequent traveller, even though that might be on hold at the moment, it could be worth finding out which network has the best roaming perks to suit your schedule.

Bolt ons are a good option if you need a top up on your allowances. If you’re an O2 customer you can take advantage of the network’s wide range of bolt on options, such as additional data, more minutes, extra texts and even discounts on international calls. Some of these bolt ons start from as little as £1.

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