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Hi all,

So both my wife and I have cell phone contracts that have come to the end of the 2 years and we're looking to upgrade our phones.

As a general rule, over a two year period, is it better off buying a phone outright from a store and getting a cheaper monthly plan or getting the phone through the network provider?

A quick look by me would suggest that buying it outright and getting a "Limited Time Offer" deal from the network provider on data/minutes may be the best way, but I wanted to ask on here as I know there are lots of experienced people on here.

Cheers
Glenn
 

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A lot depends on how the phone is used. It also depends on what type of phone is desired. Cellular data use can be a big determining factor as it tends to get cheaper per GB as plan prices go up. For light use, it can be better to buy a phone or use a currently owned phone and subscribe to a non-contract monthly or prepaid plan. For heavy data or frequent use, it may be better to go with a higher end plan that includes a free or discounted phone. There is no easy answer as there are so many variables to consider.

When considering plans and phone options, I find it useful to look at the total cost over the term of a typical 2 year contract. I've found that buying the phone outright and subscribing to a lower cost plan without a contract can be often be cheaper. That's where the type and amount of use becomes a factor as light use allows big savings, especially for data plans.

For lots of texting with light voice and data use, consider an unlimited texting plan with voice or data options. I find Koodo prepaid is good for that.
 

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When I got my Pixel 2, I went to the Rogers I first called on line and then went to the store. Either way, they couldn't come up with a plan that wouldn't cost me more over 2 years than keeping my existing plan and buying the phone outright. I have an excellent package that they couldn't even come close to matching. Hang on a sec, while I pull up a recent bill...

According to my latest bill, I'm paying $73.79 + tax. That includes 6 GB/date, 200 weekday minutes, unlimited evenings and weekends and a My10 list of Canadian for calls that are always free. I also have call display and name display.
 

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Personally for me, it's almost always better to buy the phone outright, but that's because my plan with Virgin is ridiculously low due to it being grandfathered in from a decade ago. I have no data, but unlimited picture and text messaging and unlimited minutes (along with the usual included call display, three-way calling, etc).

I pay $29.50 a month plus tax, but if I want to either add data to my existing account or upgrade my phone without paying for the phone, I'd need to switch my plan to around $50 a month at least. That's a difference of $20.50 a month. Let's say a phone costs $500 to buy outright and I can keep my current plan. Paying the $500 now becomes profitable to me after 24.4 months (500/20.5), since if I buy their new plan after those 2 years I've "paid off" my phone but I'm still stuck paying the higher amount. So if I plan on having the phone for more than 2 years I'm better off buying it outright instead of upgrading to a new plan.

I may be the outlier though, I don't know of a lot of people who still have plans as low as mine, and I refuse to give mine up for no practical reason.
 

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I shopped around for a new phone to add to my spouses' plan ( which was near the end and changed) and found the best deal was through Costco. Worked out a bit cheaper than buying the phone outright directly from the service provider.
 

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I shopped around when I was looking to buy my phone 1 year ago. I had went to a few multi-parti retailers, ie costco wireless, t-booth, etc. then went to a corp store, then finally called in to their call centre. The best deal I got was thru the call centre who ordered me the phone for a better price than all the retail stores could, and was able to see I had previous accounts with other lines of business so they knew I was a valuable customer, all the retail stores could do was do a credit check and treat me like a new customer, and put me on a CLM? a CLM? yeah. well anyways I got the phones shipped within 2 days, and as I said in my other post, best decision ever. I will do my next upgrade thru the same lady she gave me her extension and i can request to speak to her but if shes busy taking calls she said she can do an outbound call and help me out that way which is rare but good for customer service agents, cus yes they also have a tough job and tough metrix to meet
 

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I always find the best deal is to buy the phone, and switch providers as your usage and/or rates change.

Getting a "free" phone usually is in favour of the cell phone company - they are charging more for the phone, and have you locked in. It also will affect your credit score slightly as you will have a revolving payment each month.
 

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Buying the phone outright is a great idea, if you are one of those individuals who takes good care of their phone, no kids, like the features on their phone, does not care if newer technologies are made available and becoming commonplace and your still using older technologies, wants to get the most for their money, and will use the phone till it dies.

Getting a free or low cost phone every 2 years is good for someone who does not have as much disposable income, who has already negotiated a good cell plan and renews every 2 years for a hardware upgrade, who has young children who constantly take the phone and throw around causing the screen to crack, or drop it in the toilet causing it to be water damaged, who wants to keep up with advancements in technology, as older phones are quickly becoming obsolete, for example most phones have built in batteries now and after 2-3 years the phone is practically not worth it to replace the battery and if you do decide to, the phone will probably have obsolete os by then and most apps will be optimized for newer hardware and operating systems. so its a tough choice to make for that one, but you gotta think it thru and look at your family situation
 

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^^^^
One thing I'd like to see on the plans is a separate line item on the bill for the cost of buying the phone and that line & cost should be removed at the end of the contract, leaving only the service cost on the bill. Leaving the plan cost unchanged, after 2 years, is fraud, as far as I'm concerned. Having a separate line will also educate customers, who think they're getting a "free" phone.
 

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why would the phone companies do that? they would not be able to rip you off if that's the case, and in their eyes that's wrong.
 

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Buying the phone outright is a great idea, if you are one of those individuals who takes good care of their phone, no kids, like the features on their phone, does not care if newer technologies are made available and becoming commonplace and your still using older technologies, wants to get the most for their money, and will use the phone till it dies.

Getting a free or low cost phone every 2 years is good for someone who does not have as much disposable income, who has already negotiated a good cell plan and renews every 2 years for a hardware upgrade, who has young children who constantly take the phone and throw around causing the screen to crack, or drop it in the toilet causing it to be water damaged, who wants to keep up with advancements in technology, as older phones are quickly becoming obsolete, for example most phones have built in batteries now and after 2-3 years the phone is practically not worth it to replace the battery and if you do decide to, the phone will probably have obsolete os by then and most apps will be optimized for newer hardware and operating systems. so its a tough choice to make for that one, but you gotta think it thru and look at your family situation
That's an interesting perspective. I'd argue the other way. If you're likely to damage your phone, you're much better off buying a mid to low end phone outright and replacing it annually. The Moto G7 Play, for example, comes with the latest version of Android and can be found easily for just over $200. It won't get software upgrades, but if you're expecting to replace it relatively quickly that's not an issue. And it doesn't take much of a discount on a service plan to come up with $200/year.

On the other hand, if you take great care of your phones then you're suited to getting an iPhone or a Pixel because it will last you two years without becoming obsolete.
 

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The big problem with most smartphones is that they lose support after 2 or 3 years, often less. After that they may quickly become subject to a number of security and other issues. They seem to lose support from many app makers after about 5 years as well. Replacing a phone every two years is probably not that bad an idea, especially for businesses. Most smartphones seem to retain much of their value for 2 or 3 years but under the circumstances I don't see why. It's good for people who want a new phone every two years though. I usually replace my phone every two years or so. I don't buy the latest new phone though. I look for a deal on a year old model after the new models are announced. I use that with a cheap BYOD prepaid plan that saves about $50/mo over a plan that would provide a new, similar phone every two years.
 

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Before unlocked phones became law, I bought a phone from Koodo and paid to unlock it to use it on Telus. The unlock worked fine but the phone would always show the Koodo logo when booting up.

Not a big deal and that situation may not exist any longer.
 

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Its not just cellphone manufacturers but other electronics devices too are starting to have a small lifespan of only 2-3 years at most. But lets stick to the cellphones to keep this on topic. Knowing the phone will be obsolete within roughly 2 years, no software updates, no security patches, etc. poor battery life, etc. why on earth would someone still drop $1500 on a brand new iphone (or even non iphone) to get the latest and greatest gadget? that's not a smart investment. you will never move ahead in life by doing such. Why? cus I have a friend who does this very same thing and always complains he has no money. He spends well OVER a grand on a phone outright, does not even get 2 years of use from it, and the phone gets damaged or broken or lost, and he is back at square 1 again looking to buy another expensive cellphone to replace that one. come to think about it, he probably spent up to 10 grand on cellphones in his life, does this look normal to you? someone who just got married and is struggling to find money for a downpayment on his new house, but for some reason cant understand why he does not have 10 grand kicking around? I tell him the 10 grand he needs is sitting in the junk drawer full of phones he bought which is now worthless pile of e-waste. he got mad at me at first but then realized I was right and made a drastic change in his life.
 

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Your friend seems like he was spending beyond his means (you seem to know an awful lot of people with poor judgement!) but there are many people who do have the disposable income and who choose to buy flagship phones as a luxury in their lives. If you're spending 5+ hours per day on your phone (and lots of people are for professional reasons) then having a device which is consistently fast, powerful, and secure is valuable. Or maybe you just make lots of money and like to have shiny toys.
 
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