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Top 5 tips to buying a phone outright

  • Better control over your spend
  • No unlocking fees
  • Tips on how to avoid being ripped off
21/10/2011

If you are looking to change phone plans or carriers regularly, opting for pre-paid services or using a low-cost  BYO mobile phone plan (bring-your-own) you may be interested in purchasing a mobile handset outright. This is a common trend in the USA where phone subsidies are not as large as they are here, but can still work to your advantage here in Australia.

If you are interested in purchasing a mobile handset outright, here are some handy tips for what to look for when scouring the market:

Tip 1 – compare prices from different sources

Mobile handset prices can vary wildly from place to place. Some retailers stock up on certain brands and receive volume discounts, which they often pass on to the consumer in the form of specials or sales. Others will throw in accessories and free pre-paid SIM cards as part of the deal. Be sure to check at least five different sources, both online and offline, before making your decision.

Tip 2 – ensure it has all the functionality you need

Chances are, once you’ve purchased a mobile handset outright you’ll then be using it for at least the next couple of years. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that it has all the functionality and features necessary to tide you over.

Tip 3 – play around with the phone before purchase

Most modern smartphone handsets sound fantastic on paper, or on flashy websites which list all of their mindboggling features. However, not every phone is going to suit every customer. Make sure you play around with your intended purchase beforehand, to get an idea of the navigation and button layout. If a friend or acquaintance has the model you are looking for, ask to have a look at it and ask their opinion.

Tip 4 – beware if purchasing online
Sometimes online pricing looks ridiculously cheap. Almost too cheap. Some international online stores can sell cheap knockoffs or used phones instead of the bona fide item. Sometimes the mobile handsets can be locked down to a specific carrier through the firmware loaded on the phone. Ensure that you are dealing with someone with a good online reputation – most online shopping sites, like e-bay, allow you to view a seller’s profile before purchase.

Tip 5 – get a warranty and insurance!

Some online retailers might not offer a full warranty for your phone. You are making an investment here, so it is prudent to ensure that your investment is protected. Ensure your phone has at least a 2 year warranty, and take a look at insurance options in case of loss or theft.

Freedom of owning your own phone

Having the mobile handset that you want with the functionality you need, without lock-in contracts or lack of flexibility with your plan. It’s certainly an attractive proposition. However, be sure to take your time and ensure that you are making the right decision before you purchase, to avoid being left with a phone that doesn’t suit your needs.

Before buying, make sure you won't be better off on a contract by comparing plans that include the phone you are interested in purchasing.

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