As smartphones become more advanced, the cost of pay-monthly contracts is spiralling.
Three was heavily criticised last autumn, after launching a two-year contract for the iPhone X costing £117 per month.
Network operators claim such eye-watering sums are justified by unlimited data and talk time allowances, while top-end handsets cost up to £1,000 to buy outright.
Even so, phone contracts can end up more expensive than monthly travel costs.
Although handsets become pricier with every new innovation and feature, one way to reduce monthly expenditure is to leave your phone contract for a SIM-only deal.
But how do you actually leave your phone contract, and does it affect the quality of service?
The more things change…
In short, no. Your user experience won’t change as a SIM-only customer.
You can keep an existing handset, retain the same phone number and even stay with your existing network provider when deciding to leave your phone contract.
The phone will perform equally well whether it’s on a monthly or SIM-only deal, offering the same capacity to track data usage in real time.
There’s nothing to be afraid of by switching – but there are plenty of savings to be made.
One report last autumn claimed the average UK user pays over £90 a year more than they need to for their phone contract.
It concluded Britons could save £3.4 billion each year, if they all switched to SIM-only deals.
What if my contract isn’t over?
You may be able to pay an early termination fee on an existing pay-monthly contract, to purchase the handset outright.
This will include any remaining balance owed on the handset, and a proportion of any data allowance originally signed up to.
Once the termination fee has been paid, you’re free to adopt any contract.
This is often the easiest way to switch from contract to SIM-only, especially if you also want to change networks or replace the handset with a newer model.
Insert the new SIM card into your chosen device, and it’ll be ready to go.
If you’re keeping the same handset, number and network, it’s simply a case of asking the provider for the date when your contract will switch onto SIM-only.
There won’t be any interruption of service.
But will there be enough data?
Because they generate less profits for the network operators, SIM-only deals tend to have relatively modest data allowances.
Even so, we’re currently listing a deal where 10GB of data costs just £7 per month, alongside several packages providing 20GB of data for less than £20 a month.
And if breaching your data allowance is a concern, it’s possible to set data limits on Android and iOS devices [include links to ‘How to set data limits on an iPhone’ and ‘How to set data limits on Android’], as we explained in these how-to guides.
Your device will work normally while connected to WiFi networks, but it’ll block data transfers on the move once the limit is reached – so you won’t pay a penny in excess data fees.