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12 Aug 2021

Vodafone's flexible EVO mobile phone plan: what's the catch?

Vodafone's new mobile offer puts it in direct competition with O2 Refresh. We dig through the small print to find out if it's really a good value proposition

Vodafone has recently launched a new proposition for mobile customers called EVO - which claims to save customers up to a third off their monthly mobile bill.

EVO is designed to offer more choice when it comes to customising a contract. Vodafone calls it 'ultimate flexibility':

  • Customers will be able to trade in on old phone for a guaranteed saving on a new one
  • A range of contract lengths are available - from 12 to 36 months - with varying upfront costs
  • Flexible upgrades are on offer from 12 months, allowing you to change devices yearly if you want to.

It's not the first time we've seen a provider offering more flexibility around buying and selling a phone, but is it as simple as that? Read on to find out.

Find out how Vodafone compares with other providers in our guide to the best and worst mobile networks

How does Vodafone EVO work?

EVO will come with a range of extended benefits for customers alongside its three key pillars. These benefits include battery health checks and replacements up to the length of your contract, a two-year warranty on all devices sold, unlimited picture messaging and device care.

Also, depending on the plan selected, you can access free-roaming in 81 worldwide destinations as part of your package.

Alternatively, if not on an unlimited plan, customers can take advantage of its new 'unlimited data boosters' which allows you to boost your data to unlimited up to six times during your contract and/or 50% off a smartwatch Sim plan.

With its launch, Vodafone has said that all future plans purchased directly will be sold this way.

Is Vodafone EVO a good deal?

Trade-in tool

Looking first at the trade-in tool, we compared the potential amount you could receive with Vodafone with two of the most popular third-party mobile recyclers.

The table below is based on the maximum your phone could net in good condition. You may not get the full amount if your phone is faulty or a little worse for wear.

iPhone 7Samsung S8iPhone XS

As you can see, there could definitely be more value to be had elsewhere when trading in, so it's always wise to shop around to get the best return on your second-hand device.

Flexible contract lengths

This puts Vodafone closer in line with some of its competitors, most notably O2 with its Refresh offering, which began in 2013. However, there is one key difference.

With Vodafone, you can get a phone contract for up to 36 months, but airtime bundle (which is your minutes, data and texts) is on fixed 12-month or 24-month contracts. This means that your airtime contract could run out before you've finished paying for your phone.

Vodafone tells us that at this stage, you're free to switch provider for your bundle, and the device contract portion will remain with Vodafone until it is paid off.

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Flexible yearly upgrades

Vodafone allows you to upgrade your mobile phone on an annual basis to make sure you're up to date with the latest mobile phones. However, there are a few things to be aware of.

First, upgrading would mean not only taking out a new plan for up to 36 months, it would also mean paying off the remaining amount on your current Device Plan before upgrading, which can prove expensive.

For example, if you take out a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G plan at a monthly phone cost of £32 and chose to upgrade after 12 months, you would have to pay £768 before you could upgrade.

Second, you can't 'downgrade' by choosing a phone and plan that's cheaper than your existing deal. Instead, your new upgrade must be the same monthly cost or higher than your current phone plan.

Also, to avoid paying any early upgrade fees, you have to send your current phone unlocked and wiped within 21 days of receiving the return packaging.

This will certainly appeal to a people who must have the latest gadget in their hands, but for the majority, it could prove to be very costly.

How to find the best deal on a mobile phone

At Which?, we work to give you all the information on how to get the best contract and Sim-free deal.

Our mobile phone reviews can help you choose a handset, and you can compare the best contract deals on phones if you want to spread the cost.

Alternatively, buy a phone outright and compare Sim-only deals to see how little you could pay per month for a bundle. We've picked out some of the best Sim-only deals, as well as some of the best mobile phones deals, to get you started.

And if you're concerned about switching, don't be. Our guide on how to switch mobile provider shows you just how easy it is.