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Seven foolproof ways to get a cheap smartphone

The latest handsets can be pricey. Here’s how to cut the costs

Seven foolproof ways to get a cheap smartphone

Last week, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ handsets hit the shelves with a starting price of £739. But that’s small change compared with the new Apple iPhone X, which went on sale for £999 last year.

With the latest devices now costing the best part of a month’s salary for some people, it’s important to make sure you really think about whether you can afford to get one and find ways to save as much as you can.

If you’re not convinced you can make do with the best budget smartphones, Which? has set out some ways to save money on the latest top-of-the-range handsets.


Bide your time

Research from price comparison website PriceSpy reveals that if you want to pick up a new Samsung Galaxy S9 for less, it might be worth waiting a couple of months.

It found that the cost of a Samsung S8, which retailed at £689 when it was released last year, fell by 25.8% after just over two months. Shoppers who waited saved more than £200.

Looking back, there have been similar trends with other models:

RRP price on release Biggest price drop after release Saving
Samsung Galaxy S8 £689 (28 April 2017) £511 (9 July 2017) £204 (25.8%)
Samsung Galaxy S7 £639 (11 March 2016) £394 (9 June 2016) £245 (38.3%)
Samsung Galaxy S6 £619 (10 April 2015) £398 (21 June 2015) £221 (35.7%)
Samsung Galaxy S £540 (11 April 2014) £321 (22 July 2014) £219 (40.6%)

Source: PriceSpy

Olof Karp at PriceSpy recommends setting up price alerts to save money when prices fall.

‘Our price history data tells us that prices on new handsets generally drop after about three months,’ he said. ‘We therefore encourage Samsung fans to set up price alerts to track when the Galaxy S9’s price drops to ensure they are getting the best deal.’

As well as PriceSpy you can set up price alerts on websites such as Love Sales and CamelCamelCamel, which track Amazon prices.

Offset the cost

If you’re upgrading, don’t forget that your old phone could be worth a pretty penny and the money you make can go towards offsetting the cost of the latest handset.

You can typically get the best price by selling on websites such as Ebay. But if you want a quick exchange there are a whole load of websites offering instant cash for recycling your old phone.

You should compare what you can get using the sold prices on Ebay, as well as on websites like Mazuma Mobile, Envirophone, WeBuyAnyPhone, MusicMagpie to see which offers the best deal.

We’ve taken a look at what you could raise with an unlocked Samsung S8 64GB handset in excellent condition to show how much the trade-in value can vary.

Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB
Ebay £572 (auction sold for price with 18 bids)
MusicMagpie £320
WeBuyAnyPhone £316
Envirophone £260
Mazuma Mobile £255

Use cashback websites

Websites like Quidco and TopCashback pay you when you make purchases through their tracked links, so it’s worth checking out what’s on offer.

Right now Quidco is offering up to £85 cashback when you take out a Samsung S9 or S9+ contract or 5% cashback when you buy the handset outright with Carphone Warehouse.

Just make sure you compare tariffs to make sure you pick the right one for you and make sure it will actually save you money in the long term.

Try haggling for an upgrade

If you are already on a pay monthly contract you may be able to upgrade to the latest handset for less by haggling with your provider.

In October 2017 we surveyed over 2,000 Which? members about haggling, and 58% told us they had negotiated a discount on a range of products and services.

On average, those that challenged their mobile phone service were able to save £72 a year.

Get a tariff that fits

A pay-monthly contract will help you spread the cost of an expensive mobile handset over a number of months, bundled in with your airtime.

Just remember to go for a contract that suits your usage so you don’t exceed or under use your allowances, and check what happens after you pay off the cost of your handset.

Some providers don’t adjust the price down after your contract deal expires, which means you could end up overpaying.

Research from Citizens Advice found on average people on pay monthly contracts with Vodafone, EE and Three were paying up to £38 a month more than they needed to on high-range handsets costing more than £600 after their initial fixed deal ended.

To ensure your bill goes down after you’ve paid off the cost of the handset, check out the O2 Refresh and Tesco Mobile contracts. Or just remember to keep track of when your deal ends so you can challenge your provider.

Alternatively, if you can afford to pay for a handset outright you might be better with a Sim-only deal for your minutes, texts and data.

Buy a refurbished or second-hand model

You might be able to save on the latest smartphones by seeking out a refurbished or second-hand model.

Refurbished smartphones include those that have been sent back to a manufacturer because of a fault, or simply those that were ex-display.

These deals come with a warranty, and can save you up to third on the price of a brand new handset.

You can refurbished deals on a manufacturers websites (Apple has a certified refurbished store) as well as Argos and Amazon.

Alternatively, you could save even more by shopping for pre-owned smartphones on websites like Ebay (use our 16 Ebay buying tips and tricks to get the best deal).

Go back a generation

When the latest smartphone comes out, retailers are quick to slash the price of the model it replaces.

And often the features are often very similar, so you don’t stand to lose much by opting for the older version.

The Samsung S8 for example is now available for £475 on Amazon, and though the S9 has a better camera that’s about all you get for the extra dough.

The Which? review of the Samsung S9 and S9+ noted: ‘The new S9 and S9+ don’t represent a radical leap from last year’s models, but a few improvements have been made here and there to tempt you to part with your cash.’

So a saving of over nearly £300 on the handset price, might be enough to forget that the Samsung S8 is only slightly less good than the new S9.

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