At the entrance of mobile phones to the public, when the market was fresh and under saturated with healthy competition, a minute on the phone could set one back as much as Â£1. Plans and phones were pricey, with the cost of a brick phone running up to Â£800, and no real options when it came to purchasing options for plans.
The changes in the past 20 years to the mobile phone industry are easy to take for granted, but some aspects are more difficult to ignore than others. Phones have moved past being talk only devices, with smartphones taking up a little over half of the market, beating feature phones in 2013 for the first time ever.
There are data plans to choose from, text message allowances that can be scaled to fit a budget, and talk time minutes which can run from 50 minutes a month to unlimited. While phones such as the Nokia C6 moving out of the contract phone market and onto the pay as you go and SIM market, there is any number of smartphones available for pay monthly deals for the budget conscious.
In order to obtain a new phone on contract for under Â£10, there is one immediate and notable downside which is nearly unavoidable. For this low monthly cost, the phone itself is going to cost anywhere from 50-100% of its retail cost. This is in direct contrast to the free phones that come with pricier plans, and is a major consideration when purchasing a plan and phone together.
If consumers of the low priced options follow the adage â€œbeggars cant be choosers,â€ there are phones that come free with the budget friendly plans. These plans will be reduced in allowances even further than other phones in this CatID, so this option seems to make sense for those who cannot pony up the initial cost of the phone at the point of sale.
When the Phone is Not the Deciding Factor
For those who are looking to save money every month as well as avoid plunking down a pile of sterling to buy a new smartphone, there are pay monthly deals for under Â£10 which include a free phone. The options are limited and fall largely to those manufacturers who fill the market with phones. Samsung and LG combined sell over 60% of all cell phones, this due in no small part to the fact that they make the kind of phones that retailers give away with even the cost conscious contract.
Samsungs Galaxy Ace and their Galaxy Y smartphones come free for signing up for a 24 month plan at Â£7 a month. A free phone for Â£7 monthly is one of the most cost effective ways of getting a smartphone, but the allowances are slightly lower than other plans. Customers of the Galaxy Y version receive 250 minutes of talk time, unlimited text messaging and 500MB of data for Â£7.50. To get the Galaxy Ace and its slightly enhanced operating system and larger screen size, customers are looking at Â£7 a month for 175 talk time minutes, unlimited text messaging and 250MB of data.
HTC and Sony also offer phones for no upfront cost for around Â£7. The HTC Desire and the Sony Xperia Tipo come as free contract phones for those who sign on for a 24 month period. Outside of these offerings, the phone is going to cost a pretty penny when the plan is this inexpensive, so no iPhones are coming free for a Â£7 contract. If the phone is not the most important consideration, when any phone is better than no phone or an old phone, these deals are a hand up out of a technological black hole. Welcome to the 21st century, be sure not to go over your data limit.
Cost Effective Plans with Plenty of Data
The smartphone is only as smart as the data it can send and receive, thus the data limit is going to be the major limiting factor on how intelligent any particular phone can be.
For the under Â£10 contracts, the most data that any network offers is 500MB, a fairly standard amount. While this is not enough to allow for constant web access, it will provide enough data to send and receive emails.
To jump from 500MB of monthly data which will run out rather quickly for even the moderately internet obsessed, to unlimited monthly data plans, the cost remains rather reasonable. Consider going from Â£7 or Â£8 a month but being unable to access the net whenever is convenient to spending a little more than twice that amount and having unlimited access to all the data the universe can provide. No other industry is going to go unlimited for only a doubling of the contractual price, unless the discussion is on buffets, and then the world is your oyster. As far as technology goes, this is a bargain.
The phones available at this price range are still going to be from HTC and Samsung, but any phone is available if you are willing to pay for it upfront.
The extraordinary amount of data does come at a cost, however; text messaging is now limited to 5000 texts, while talk time increases to 300-500 minutes per month, depending on the phone.
Choosing the Budget-Friendly Plan
If browsing the web, sending files and pictures, and being able to download whatever, whenever you want, are not important features of a phone, the under Â£10 plans will work fine. If, however, the data limit is a crucial factor in your personal or business life, then the cost will jump to Â£15 – Â£20 in order to provide you with unlimited access to data.
When budgeting is a concern, the phone itself becomes a luxury item, the choice made instead of by features and looks but by how well the available plans fit a monthly allowance. All of the phones mentioned here are functional smartphones that will browse, download, send and receive. The only question you will have to answer is how much of that do you really need to do?
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