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John Lewis stores to sell mobile phones

Posted by wicked June - 23 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

John Lewis

Retailer John Lewis will enter the highly competitive UK telecoms market for the first time in a bid to fill a void left by the sudden collapse of former incumbent retailer Phones4U last September. Beginning today, customers can go to the John Lewis website to buy 25 mobile phones sans-contracts and from mid-August, two flagship stores – the one on Oxford Street, London and Cheadle Manchester – will begin offering contracts in a store as a pilot. If successful, the plan is to roll out the service to other stores around the country.

The best phones…

John Lewis plans to set itself apart from the competition – and provide a viable challenge to sole independent high street retailer Carphone Warehouse – by offering a standard two year warranty on all handsets and free insurance. The two year warranty also applies to Apple iPhones, which come with one year warranty by default. Given that customers currently opt to buy tablets and other electronics from John Lewis over other suppliers thanks to the additional warranty on offer, it’s hoped that the same offer will appeal to potential contract customers.

The firm will offer two plans on Vodafone in a bid to simplify the often complex search for a mobile phone contract: a low data tariff with unlimited free minutes and texts and a high data tariff, which also comes with unlimited free minutes and texts. The new mobile concessions stores will appear alongside similar concessions currently in place inside John Lewis stores and will be run by both John Lewis and Vodafone staff. For customers who want other plans, John Lewis will also be able to offer phones on any Vodafone contract.

Buying Director Johnathan Marsh said:

‘We’ve got a very strong technology business, and being able to offer customers mobile phones is important.‘

We know from our website traffic and searches that customers are actively looking for mobiles from us, but it’s important we go into this market in a John Lewis way.’

At the moment there are thousands of potential combinations of mobile handsets and tariffs on the market, which can be really daunting for customers.’

Retailer Phones4U suddenly collapsed last September five days before the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, leaving thousands of customers who had pre-ordered, stranded and without any hope of a refund. The move left Carphone Warehouse as the only independent high street retailer able to offer contracts from multiple networks and while John Lewis will only offer plans from Vodafone UK, it will offer some competition for Carphone Warehouse.

Would you buy from John Lewis to get two years’ warranty and free insurance? How important are warranty and damage protection plans to you? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!

Mobile Phones from John Lewis

Best Android Contract Deals in the UK

Posted by wicked June - 3 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off
lg-g4-vs-samsung-galaxy-s6-edge-quick-look-aa-2-of-14

Smartphones in general have rapidly become very expensive devices and in most countries, most customers buy their new smartphone as part of a pay monthly contract.

In the UK, picking a new contract often means searching through lots of carriers and retailers to find the best deal and then, you have to deal with different warranty policies, delivery charges and other hidden charges that might increase the cost of your plan.

Related: Best Android smartphones

To help you find the best Android contracts in the UK, we’ve picked a few price points and we’re going to compare the different deals available from the four major networks – EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three – and independent retailer Carphone Warehouse and give you our top pick for a combination of handset and inclusive allowances along with an honourable mention at each price point.

£0 – £25.99 per month

The low end of the mark is where OEMs offer the cheapest possible experience in an attempt to capture first-time smartphone users and those on a budget.

HTC Desire 820-27

Top Pick: HTC Desire 820

Deal details:

  • Network: iD (runs on Three)
  • Price per month: £25.50
  • Upfront cost: £0.00
  • Monthly Minutes: 1200
  • Monthly SMS: 5000
  • Monthly Data: 2GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free roaming in 22 countries around the world
  • Retailer (link): Carphone Warehouse
  • Review (link): HTC Desire 820 review

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Honourable mention: Xperia Z3 Compact

The Xperia Z3 Compact was arguably the best mid-range Android smartphone released last year and nearly a year later, the handset is still one of the best mid-range devices. It borrows most of the specs of its flagship sibling – the Xperia Z3 – and is powered by a quad-core CPU, has a 20MP camera and is dust and water resistant.

sony xperia z3 compact review aa (1 of 21)

Deal details:

  • Network: Three UK
  • Price per month: £24.00
  • Upfront cost: £0.00
  • Monthly Minutes: 600
  • Monthly SMS: unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 1GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free roaming in 18 countries around the world
    • Free 0800/0808/0500 calls in the UK
  • Retailer (link)Three UK
  • Review (link): Xperia Z3 Compact Review

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Honourable mention: Honor 6 Plus

Honor might be Huawei’s e-commerce brand but its handsets are certainly impressive and the Honor 6 Plus is no different. It’s a fantastic device that is packed with premium specs at a very competitive and affordable mid-range price point. This deal only came below the Xperia Z3 Compact deal as it has less inclusive monthly data.

Huawei's Honor line is just one example of where Xiaomi competition has turned to online-only sales models.

Deal details:

  • Network: Three UK
  • Price per month: £24.00
  • Upfront cost: £19.00
  • Monthly Minutes: 600
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 500MB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free roaming in 18 countries around the world
    • Free 0800/0808/0500 calls in the UK
  • Retailer (link)Three UK
  • Review (link): Honor 6 Plus review

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£26 – £39.99 per month

From the entry-level price point to one of the most fiercely contested as flagships are replaced and drop to this very affordable price. Choosing our picks for this category was arguably the hardest choice of this entire feature, especially when handsets such as the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3 are all available at this price point.

Top Pick: LG G4

The LG G4 is without doubt one of the best Android smartphones on the market and despite only landing on the market a few days ago, it’s available at this excellent price (by comparison, the Galaxy S6 started at over £45 per month as did the iPhone 6. It’s one of my favourite devices of the year and delivers the best alternative to Samsung’s flagships at a much more affordable price point.

lg g4 color comparison aa (1 of 11)

Deal details:

  • Network: EE
  • Price per month: £36.99
  • Upfront cost: £39.99
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 5GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free calls and texts while roaming in selected European countries
    • Double-speed LTE-Advanced 4G (up to 300Mbps)
  • Retailer (link): Carphone Warehouse
  • Review (link): LG G4 review

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Honourable mention: HTC One M9

The HTC One M9 may not be the handset for everyoneI’ve already shared my views on HTC’s latest flagship – but it still offers a compelling package and for a handset that has a recommended price in excess of £500 ($750), this deal is rather good value for money.

htc one m9 review aa (34 of 34)

Deal details:

  • Network: Vodafone
  • Price per month: £35.00
  • Upfront cost: £79.99
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 6GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • 3 months unlimited internet (Data Test Drive)
    • £3 per day roaming in European countries (Vodafone EuroTraveller)
  • Retailer (link): Carphone Warehouse
  • Review (link): HTC One M9 review

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£40 – £49.99 per month

From the mid-range to the flagship and this price point is where most modern flagships enter the market at. If you’re willing to spend this much each month, you’ll pretty much get your own pick of which handset you buy.

samsung galaxy s6 review aa (38 of 45)

Top Pick: Galaxy S6 32GB

Choosing any deal at this price point pretty much includes selecting the Galaxy S6, which is why Samsung’s flagship takes top spot at this price point. While there are other handsets available, as mentioned at the beginning, this comparison takes into account the retail price of the handset, which is why the Galaxy S6 offers a more compelling package at this price.

Samsung’s latest flagship is certainly impressive with a metal and glass build, Quad HD Super AMOLED display, octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, 16MP camera and built-in dual wireless charging. It may not have a removable battery and expandable storage like its chief rival – the LG G4 – but it ticks the other boxes and deserves its top billing. The plans at this price point are all rather similar but Three takes top spot as its the only one to offer unlimited 4G data.

Deal details:

  • Network: Three UK
  • Price per month: £48.00
  • Upfront cost: £0.00
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: Unlimited 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free roaming in 18 countries around the world
    • Free 0800/0808/0500 calls in the UK
  • Retailer (link)Three UK
  • Review (link): Galaxy S6 review

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Honourable mention: Galaxy Note 4

The Galaxy Note 4 might be a few months old now but Samsung’s phablet still offers one of the best experiences on the market. The premium specs – including a Quad HD display, 16MP camera and quad-core CPU – are coupled with the innovative S-Pen stylus and faux leather cover for a truly impressive handset.

samsung galaxy note 4 s pen aa (2 of 18)

Deal details:

  • Network: EE
  • Price per month: £49.99
  • Upfront cost: £9.99
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 10GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free calls and texts while roaming in selected European countries
    • Double-speed LTE-Advanced 4G (up to 300Mbps)
  • Retailer (link)EE
  • Review (link): Galaxy S6 review

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Honourable mention: Galaxy S6 32GB

EE’s network is the best in the UK for coverage and data speeds and this plan is certainly made for the heavy data user as it offers a large data allowance and super-fast speeds.

samsung galaxy s6 vs s6 edge aa (33 of 39)

Deal details:

  • Network: EE
  • Price per month: £49.99
  • Upfront cost: £9.99
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 10GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free calls and texts while roaming in selected European countries
    • Double-speed LTE-Advanced 4G (up to 300Mbps)
  • Retailer (link)EE
  • Review (link): Galaxy S6 review

£50+ per month

This is the price point where the extremely premium handsets enter the market. Alternatively, this is the price at which you’ll get those insanely large data allowances and just about every package your network provider offers as they tempt you to part with your hard earned money.

Modern smartphones are only increasing in price so it’s only a matter of time before more smartphones enter the market at this price each month. Contracts in the UK a few years ago used to cost this much per month but deals then became affordable and over the past six to twelve months, we’ve seen a trend for monthly prices to increase as smartphone prices increase.

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Like the Galaxy S6 above, this section is dominated by the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is arguably Samsung’s true flagship handset. Choosing a deal at this price point was incredibly tough as all the networks offer large data allowances and it came down to perceived value and our experiences with each network (in terms of coverage, speeds and reliability).

Top Pick: Galaxy S6 Edge 64GB

Picking a top deal was certainly interesting as at this price point, most of the deals are rather similar. However, our top pick comes from EE, who are offering the 64GB Galaxy S6 Edge with a large amount of data and a reliable network at a lower price than the competition.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge-26

Deal details:

  • Network: EE
  • Price per month: £54.99
  • Upfront cost: £69.99
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 20GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • Free calls and texts while roaming in selected European countries
    • Double-speed LTE-Advanced 4G (up to 300Mbps)
  • Retailer (link)EE
  • Review (link): Galaxy S6 Edge review

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Honourable mention: Galaxy S6 Edge 64GB

Choosing an honourable mention was difficult as there were lots to choose from but we settled on the only 12-month contract on our list (the rest are 24 months). Vodafone still offer 12-month contracts and while they have become relatively expensive, they still offer value for money and the ability to change devices more often.

Deal details:

  • Network: Vodafone UK
  • Price per month: £59.99
  • Upfront cost: £279.00
  • Monthly Minutes: Unlimited
  • Monthly SMS: Unlimited
  • Monthly Data: 4GB 4G
  • Contract Length: 12 months
  • Inclusive Extras:
    • 3 months unlimited internet (Data Test Drive)
    • 5GB BT Openzone Wi-Fi
    • Free Inclusive calls to the UK from European Zone
    • £3 per day roaming in European countries (Vodafone EuroTraveller)
    • 6 months inclusive benefit (Now TV, Sky Sports Mobile TV or Spotify Premium)
  • Retailer (link)Vodafone UK
  • Review (link): Galaxy S6 Edge review

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Wrapping Up

Choosing a new smartphone is certainly a challenge with a myriad of networks, retailers, handsets, offers, price plans and allowances to choose from. You may have just been looking for some recommendations on what to spend your money on and we hope that you’ve at least gained some insight into what your monthly budget might get you.

Our top picks for Android deals: which will you buy?

It’s worth remembering that there are hundreds – and even thousands – of pay monthly deals available and while we’ve picked the ones we think are top picks, there are probably others that also suit your needs. Some networks – EE and O2 – allow you to customise your package by paying more upfront and less per month and vice versa so the same deals mentioned above may be available at other prices.

Related: Best Bluetooth Speakers

Based in the UK and spotted a deal that you think we’ve missed? Which deal would you choose and why? Have we helped you with our top picks for Android contracts in the UK? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!!

LG G4 now in-stock in the UK

Posted by wicked May - 27 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off
lg g4 first look aa (22 of 32)

UK retailer Carphone Warehouse has today launched the LG G4 in the UK, two days ahead of its May 29th general release date. The retailer – who has an exclusive on the black leather version – is offering LG’s latest flagship handset on contracts starting at £35 per month.

That deal gets you 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB 4G data on Vodafone each month but if you’re looking for a lower monthly price, the same deal can be had on EE for £31.99 per month with a £49.99 upfront charge. There’s also a range of other deals available, including 4G contracts through O2, EE and Carphone’s own iD network (which runs on Three UK).

The LG G4 is one of the best smartphones on the market at the moment and comes with a curved Quad HD IPS display, a powerful Snapdragon 808 processor and 16MP camera equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation, Color Spectrum Sensor and laser autofocus. At a cost of £35 per month, it’s significantly cheaper than its key rivals, including the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge and offers one of the best Android experiences on the market.

LG G4 in videos:

Are you going to buy the G4? Let us know your views down below guys!

Sprint offers half-bill promo for those switching from Verizon and AT&T

Posted by wicked December - 3 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

sprint logo TheDarkThing

In Japan, mobile carriers are engaged in such a ruthless war of side switching promotions, that the industry itself is no longer creating new long term customers. Rather, it’s all about defecting from one carrier to another while remaining on the same number to receive major discounts every time your contract ends. As America begins to experience a similar trend, Sprint (owned by Japan’s Softbank) is taking things up a notch.

Sprint has unveiled a major boon for current Verizon or AT&T customers willing to switch over to the Now Network. The promotion will begin this Friday. The details are as follows:

1. Current customers on either Verizon or AT&T (not T-Mobile) can receive up to $350 towards Early Termination Fees or device installments. This said device must be surrendered to Sprint upon the onset of the contract.

2. Sprint will find a contract with monthly conditions that cost half of that which current Verizon or AT&T customers are now paying.

3. Customers taking advantage of this promotion must purchase a new device at the time of contract.

4. Customers must bring their current bill to verify the current total.

This could go a long way in helping Sprint to change its rather abysmal reputation and could be enough to lure in customers from other networks. Of course, it is worth noting that the promotion will be available for a limited time only (once you have switched, however, the rate will be fixed.) For all those looking to update their mobile or just save money, this could be a fantastic opportunity.

Show Press Release

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), December 02, 2014 – In an unprecedented move, Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced it will cut in half the monthly rate plan for Verizon and AT&T customers who switch to Sprint beginning Friday, Dec. 5. With the Cut Your Bill in Half Event, Sprint will provide unlimited talk and text to anywhere in the U.S. while on the Sprint network – regardless of a customer’s current plan – and match the customer’s data allowance for half the cost they are currently paying for their monthly rate plan.1

“The Cut Your Bill in Half Event clearly demonstrates that Sprint delivers the best value in wireless,” said Marcelo Claure, CEO, Sprint. “It’s as simple as this: Bring Sprint your Verizon or AT&T bill along with your phone and we’ll cut your rate plan in half. That’s a 50 percent savings on your rate plan every month. And this great deal is not just a promotion. This will be the customer’s ongoing price.”

Beginning Friday, Dec. 5, Verizon and AT&T customers switching to Sprint need to follow these simple steps to take advantage of this limited-time offer:

1. Visit sprint.com/halfprice to upload a copy of your current bill.2
2. Bring a copy of your latest bill and all of the phones on your Verizon or AT&T account to turn in to your Sprint store.
3. A Sprint representative will select the service plan that most closely matches the data allowance in your current monthly rate plan.3
4. Get your new phone with one of our leasing options, Sprint Easy Pay(SM) installment billing, or pay full retail price for the device.

Customers also may take advantage of the Cut Your Bill in Half Event via Sprint.com. For more information visit www.sprint.com/halfprice.

Additionally through this offer, Verizon and AT&T customers on a contract are eligible to save even more. Sprint will pay up to $350 per line via a Visa® Prepaid Card for their early termination fee or installment bill balance when they switch. Once a customer has received the final bill from the other carrier, he or she may simply register for the Visa Prepaid Card at sprint.com/jointoday.4

The half-off rate from Sprint will be based on the monthly voice, text and data rate plan charge for all lines on the customer’s Verizon or AT&T bill. For example, Verizon customers paying $140/month for four lines of service to share can get four lines of service from Sprint for $70/month. Customers are entitled to the half-off rate as long as they remain on the plan.

Verizon’s new ETF policy: full penalty for the first 7 months

Posted by wicked November - 15 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

Verizon logo

Contracts are a binding agreement between you and your service provider. Contracts often have mutual benefits for both parties. Contracts can be broken… for a price. In the world of cellular service, there are two basic options for consumers: (1) spend a large sum of money and procure a new product either SIM-free/carrier unlocked, or (2) opt for a multi-year agreement with a mobile carrier and receive the desired device for a heavily subsidized cost. Recently companies have been offering a third option wherein a handset is $0 down with a monthly installment plan, though in this context the customer is actually paying full price for their smartphone or tablet. Any way you slice it, things are expensive.

Things are about to get even more expensive however, if Verizon Wireless has anything to do with it. Prior to November 14th, contracts worked like this: sign a two-year agreement, and each month the Early Termination Fee (ETF) would decrease by $10. From today onward, however, the ETF won’t begin to decrease for a full 7 months when purchasing so-called advanced devices. To be specific, months 1-7 will see zero reduction of the penalty, months 8-18 will warrant a $10/month decrease, months 19-23 will each garner a reduction of $20. Hit the final 24th and the final $60 will be eliminated.

Phone Verizon Money WGGB

The full legal spiel is as follows:

If you cancel a line of Service, or if we cancel it for good cause, during its contract term, you’ll have to pay an early termination fee. If your contract term results from your purchase of an advanced device on or after November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $350, which will decline by: $10 per month in months 8–18, $20 per month in months 19–23, and $60 in the final month of your contract term. For other contract terms entered into on or after November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $175, which will decline by: $5 per month in months 8–18, $10 per month in months 19–23, and $30 in the final month of your contract term. If your contract results from your purchase of an advanced device prior to November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $350 minus $10 for each full month of your contract term that you complete. For other contract terms entered into prior to November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $175 minus $5 for each full month of your contract term that you complete.

Suffice to say this is a rather severe new system, to put it nicely. Clearly Verizon has figured out a way to better monetize its ETF penalty system as customers either switch networks or else seek to upgrade their devices at a faster pace. The disturbing thing is that for a company that actually lost customers earlier this year, this is either a brazen move to try and keep more from leaving in the future, or else just plain bad judgement. Or both.

While T-Mobile, AT&T, or Sprint have yet to react to this new policy publicly, now that one has instated something of this nature, it’s only a matter of time before the other three try something as well. All-in-all this scenario showcases the benefits of purchasing off-contract, if you can afford it, that is.

Verizon offering low price, contract encumbered Nexus 7 for $49.99

Posted by wicked March - 13 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

verizon_nexus_7_deal

Verizon is making the Nexus 7 tablet from Google available for only $49.99 to users willing to sign-up for a 2-year agreement. That may be a good deal for users short on cash, although it is unclear just how much savings, if any, the deal represents. Verizon is also offering the Nexus 7 for $349.99 off contract, the same price that the device can be purchased from Google Play.

If you really want to go through Verizon or want to take advantage of purchasing a Nexus 7 over time via a 2-year contract, hit the source link.

source: Verizon

Come comment on this article: Verizon offering low price, contract encumbered Nexus 7 for $49.99

T-Mobile pondering more regular smartphone upgrades

Posted by wicked March - 27 - 2013 - Wednesday Comments Off

t-mobile

Waiting for the end of a two year contract before you can ditch that old handset can be a frustrating experience. It’s even more annoying to find out that a better smartphone launched just a few months after you signed a new contract.

Well those days may one day be behind us, as T-Mobile is contemplating a new “anytime upgrade” club.

This new concept could allow customers to upgrade their handsets up to twice a year in exchange for a “very small” membership fee. Nothing is set in stone yet, and it’s not known whether this fee will appear as either a monthly or annual subscription. T-Mobile is also thinking about throwing in some insurance for your smartphone with the optional club membership, so it could be a phenomenal deal for smartphone enthusiasts.

I can see the “anytime upgrade” club being a hugely popular option for consumers who are really into their tech, especially considering how many high end handsets are released each year these days. But swapping handsets every six months certainly isn’t for everyone.

Hats off to T-Mobile though, first introducing simplified data plans this month, and now trying to offer consumers more choice when it comes to handsets. T-Mobile is certainly trying to become more consumer friendly, and I can’t fault the company for attempting to innovate.

Like I said though T-Mobile hasn’t finalised anything yet, and this concept may never actually be implemented. Never the less, I’m interested to hear your opinions on the idea. Would you happily pay a little extra each year on your contact in exchange for more regular handset upgrades?

The post T-Mobile pondering more regular smartphone upgrades appeared first on Android Authority.

The evolving mobile device plan: how prepaid plans are changing the mobile game

Posted by wicked January - 22 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off

T-Mobile unlimited prepaid 4G

A few recent developments have woken us from our 2-year-plan slumber. We’ve been exposed to a very inexpensive unlocked phone in the Nexus 4, and T-Mobile has decided to stop subsidizing phones. If we can get a great unlocked phone for a reasonable price, or a cheaper rate plan with an unsubsidized phone, why shouldn’t we?

Are we able to end our dependence on carriers? Would a contract-free world be better for the customers? Who wins and who loses in the current situation?

The status quo – pay the piper

Our current mobile way of getting a new phone is simple, really. We go to the store, we pick out a phone, we pay someone a bunch of cash, then we pay monthly. That’s not really different from the new way of thinking, but more on that in a minute. Right now, this has an unwelcome catch: the two year contract. That’s 24 months of your digital life tied down to one carrier. You can pay to get out of it, but there’s a heavy fine.

Then there is the upfront cost. You may go in thinking that phone is $199, but there’s more to it than that. From the start, you’re paying more than you thought. That $199 turns into $350 really quick with the taxes, fees, plan cost, etc. you typically pay for when starting a new rate plan. So, let’s take stock so far; $350 and you’re locked in for 24 months. Sound about right?

How about that rate plan you just purchased? Not bad at $79/month, but consider what you’re getting into. Not the data or unlimited text, but the cost. How quickly will $79 become $95 with insurance and hidden fees? Just what are those fees? I mean, shouldn’t the plan cover all of that? It seems it should, so once again we ask ourselves just what we’re getting into here.

wireless-carriers

Nexus 4 – a different way

The current state of Nexus 4 availability sheds light on the issue of rate plans. The Nexus 4 was a pickle for consumers, as it was only available unlocked and via the Play Store. It came with no LTE (kinda…), and wasn’t available on a carrier right away. This particular device was only available one way, via one source, and sold out in minutes across the globe.

Two things can be taken from this debacle: we like good devices cheap, and we are willing to get away from contracted service. While Google… or LG, or whomever we blame this week… may have underestimated the demand for this phone, it’s a mistake i’m sure will not be repeated. The Nexus 4 had everything working against it, and it still outperformed expectations. We didn’t like that LG made it, and we didn’t like that it had no LTE, and we hated the fact it was only available on the Play Store. Still, it made a very pointed scar across the face of mobile rate plans.nexus-4-comparison

 Is prepaid worth it?

An interesting conundrum, prepaid is. On one hand, you stand to save quite a bit of money with your monthly plan. On the other, you must buy the phone straight away with no subsidy from your carrier. The decision on which is best is unique to each person, so we’ll examine it apples to apples.

A tale of two plans

In this exercise, we’ll purchase a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which is available on most carriers. In our first example, we purchase the device unlocked at $699. We will select the $60/monthly prepaid plan from T-Mobile. Over the course of two years, our cost is $2139.

Purchasing the same device subsidized from Verizon with an upfront cost of $299, we select the $70/month “Share Everything” plan. An additional cost of $40/month to connect our new smartphone to this plan brings the monthly cost up to $110. Over the course of our contract, we will pay $2939. This does not factor in the various charges and taxes associated with a contracted plan, so factor in an additional $200 or so.

Cost vs. Value

To be fair, you’re not getting the same service with both. The Verizon network is much better, so that is something you should factor in. Always check to see who has the best coverage in your area, as it may be similar from carrier-to-carrier. Your needs are what matters, both financially and with the network. There is also the point that this is for a single person, and a family plan via Verizon may save you some cash over those same two years.

However, the absence of hidden fees is the best thing about prepaid. I can count several examples across many carriers where, during the course of my contract, there were mysterious charges and subtle rate hikes to my plan, with no explanation or warning. One month my bill would be $110, the next $127. No apparent rhyme or reason, just random upcharges.

Freedom is an important factor, also. On prepaid, I have the freedom to switch carriers for any reason I like. I can also travel to another country and use my phone by simply switching SIM cards. I recently went on a trip to Japan, and was told by my carrier that my Galaxy Nexus would not work in Japan, as it’s a CDMA phone and Japan operates on a GSM network. When I returned, there was an extra $235 in charges for international roaming and data usage. Had I been with a prepaid phone at the time, I could have switched SIM cards and had no charge for simply having my phone on while using the camera.

T-Mobile is leading the way

An interesting thing happened recently: T-Mobile took charge of the mobile carriers. We’re not talking the network, or how many cool devices they have on offer. We’re talking about your plan, and more importantly, how much you pay.

Looking at the two examples listed above, it’s clear that while you may not be paying full price for your phone up front, you’re definitely paying for it over the course of your contract. All the carrier did was diversify your investment. Without a subsidized plan, you come out ahead. In fact, even if you wanted to buy a new Nexus device each year, you’re still breaking even.

t-mobile logo Axel Schwenke/Flickr

T-Mobile has recently decided to stop all subsidized phone plans. It seems T-Mobile believes that explaining the overall savings to their potential customers will get them to choose wisely, and we can expect them to go after AT&T’s customer base. As AT&T is the only other major carrier operating on a GSM network, it’s easier for their expiring contracted customers to bring their devices to T-Mobile and save some cash.

Will prepaid work?

Do you like saving money? If you answered yes, then it will work. The money saved will keep people around, plain and simple. For most consumers, saving a few bucks and having the ability to play games or check email on the go is good enough. Access to LTE is a distant afterthought, as most people don’t even have access to that service yet.

On the other hand, AT&T’s CEO hinted that the market is just not interested in paying full price for a device. That may point to a lack of education (or a lack of willingness) on our part. Depending on how the question was presented, those answers could be unreliable. I think education on the matter will open a few eyes, which is why T-Mobile’s plan for educating consumers is the X-factor.

Will phone prices go through the roof?

If this trend catches on, consumers will begin to pay closer attention to what the actual cost of a device is. Right now the cost is an afterthought, or a marketing ploy to show you how much you’re “saving” by choosing a contracted, subsidized device. As the Nexus 4 proved, a device priced very competitively will fly out the door, so it actually behooves manufacturers to lower the retail price. If the Note 2 was $449 instead of $699, I am comfortable in speculating we’d see a whole lot more of them than we do now.

Does prepaid work for carriers?

It could, but that would require a shift in thinking on the part of consumers. Carriers are comfortable in simply locking you into a contract and solidifying income. Their business model is based on that formula. A shift to prepaid is a risky scenario, and one that will really test the mettle of a carrier. Do you think Sprint, which has a very spotty network in a lot of key markets, would be comfortable in people being able to leave at will?

Sprint

Recently, the CEO of Verizon said he’d support a Verizon move to a system much like T-Mobile in the future. When someone of that stature applauds and openly wishes to follow suit on a radical industry change, that tells you this thing has some legs. While everyone is using T-Mobile as a bit of a crash test dummy, the positive attention should tell us that the subsidy model is probably not favorable to carriers either. Another interesting remark is that Verizon could move to a prepaid or unsubsidized model “very quickly.” We can surmise from that comment how nimble the structure of plans and subsidies is.

Is unsubsidized fair?

When we consider who needs to be happy in this equation, and that would be you and I for anyone keeping score, the answer is yes. We save money, we get similar service, and have much more freedom. On the other hand, this all has the potential to eliminate competitive practices. If the industry leveled the playing field quickly, someone has to lose.

A switch to unlocked exposes the networks, and it would be unfair to a weaker network like Sprint (and maybe even T-Mobile) if everyone were to switch to this model of unlocked, unsubsidized phones. Everyone is working hard to switch over to LTE right now, so throwing a wrench in the machine could stop a few engines.

Vodafone Logo

Are there any other options?

In Europe, they have a really interesting model of “leasing” phones. You pay for the phone and plan in one monthly fee. At the end of your contract, you have a few options: turn the phone in and get another, or hang on to it until you find one you like. Both Vodafone and O2 offer this option, and it seems to be a good option for those who simply don’t want to pay anything upfront. On the other hand, you never really own the device, so you’d have to be careful not to modify or otherwise change the phone.

Conclusion

I can personally attest to how great prepaid is. While I didn’t get a huge upgrade in terms of network, I am saving 77% on my monthly mobile bill. That is a number that simply can’t be ignored. I’m a rare case in terms of amount saved, but not in regard to decision making.

Prepaid puts the control in your hands, where it belongs. It’s time we stop holding the carrier on high and start demanding more from them. The carriers are here to serve us, and if they can’t deliver, we deserve the right to move to someone who will. When your current contract is up, give an unsubsidized phone the once-over. When it comes to service, stop worrying about device specs and start crunching numbers. I am willing to bet you see the potential to save money, and money saved is sanity earned.

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AT&T offering $100 credit for signing 2-year contract with HSPA+ Nexus 7

Posted by wicked January - 15 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Android Central

But perhaps signing a 24-month deal on a 6-month old device isn't the smartest of moves

A "special offer from AT&T" has just showed up on the Play Store listing for the HSPA+ Nexus 7 that shows a $100 credit offer for signing a service contract with your new tablet purchase. Similarly to the deal offered by T-Mobile on the Nexus 4 early-on, Google seems to be making small carrier partner deals to try and get some people locked into contracts with their devices even from the Play Store. This deal stipulates that if you sign a 2-year contract of at least $14.99/month (which gets you 250MB of data,) you'll receive a $100 service credit to put towards that data for a few months.

This may seem like a great deal up-front — as is the case in most contract situations — but when you think about it this really isn't. You're signing up for 2 years of service to save $100 on a device that's already 6 months old, which in the long run means very little considering the cost of data for these plans. Most users will likely want at least 3GB of data, which will run you $30 a month (before taxes/fees.) Taking the true cost of ownership into mind, getting basically 3 months of free service in return for being forced to pay for another 21 months seems a bit less of a great deal — especially when considering you're still having to pay the full $299 for the tablet.

If you're an existing AT&T customer, you're far better off adding the device to your current MobileShare plan. If you're interested in having just the tablet separate, you're going to be better served by AT&T's own prepaid options that let you use data one month at a time and have the same monthly rates. Remember, the HSPA+ Nexus 7 also supports T-Mobile's frequencies, which opens up even more choices as well.

Source: Google Play; AT&T
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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Please note that this article is from other news source and not by androidtablet101.com

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UK mobile users could not have had it better, as the communications regulator Ofcom is set to alter the general conditions that will dissuade operators from indulging in any mid-contract price hikes. The attitude of the operators is expected to be toned down a lot with Ofcom’s proposed approach, which will be favorable to general users by allowing them to exit their existing contracts under certain conditions.

Ofcom is expected to further strengthen the cause of the consumers by prevailing upon the contractors, and thus avoid springing surprises on the customer as far as price increases go. The right to cancel contracts rests with the customer, though a blanket ban on increasing prices in fixed contracts is ruled out.

Not less than 1,600 consumers’ complaints are what prompted the authority to modify the terms and conditions set for mobile, land line and broadband services.

The operators, however, have not been left in the lurch completely, with options to raise prices keeping in mind the vagaries of inflation over a period as long as a whole year. Customers still have the right to cancel contracts if proof of “material detriment” is obvious on the part of the contractor. However, this is still a grey area that leaves most customers seething silently at their helplessness. A credible argument put forward by mobile groups is that they are just passing on the increases they are burdened with and that are imposed upon them by their wholesalers.

Ofcom, on its part is working on the best rule modifications that will give the consumers a better deal when it comes to price hikes being enforced while they are still within the contract period. By June of this year, Ofcom proposes to tighten the rules and offer the consumers a fair deal.

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