Q: Do you buy a phone THEN shop for a provider?

dealwagger
10
I have heard it is cheaper to get a phone and a contract if you shop around for the phone and get the best deal on it then look for a good provider so you are not tied in by the phone part. Anyone have experience either way with this? Thanks :)
dealwagger posted Jul 16, 2012
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16 Comments
nimrodboy3
ooh..i'd be interested to see what people say. i haven't done that..but i know some people who have. i'm all just about getting the better deal.
nimrodboy3 (rep: 68k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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Acidbaby
No thats not quite how it works. The best way to save money and which is what youre kind of referring to is buying a phone for the non contract price. Which for lets say a Samsung SG3 would be $650. You can then in turn use on a prepaid plan. For example Straight Talk which allows any GSM phone. Also other benefits are no ETF if you want to change providers, you can upgrade whenever you want. Unfortunately both ways dont really save you that much money. When you buy a phone with a contract extension you are essentially paying the difference in what it would cost you to buy the phone outright.
Acidbaby (rep: 6.83k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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bbattag
Providers give you deep discounts on the phones if you commit to a contract. Yes, you could buy the phone alone but you will pay full retail which is around $400 for an iphone.
bbattag (rep: 6.76k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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encorez
I switch to Sprint because of the poor reception of AT&T.
encorez (rep: 9.96k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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Acidbaby
bbattag that entirely untrue. There is no discounts on phones with contracts. Each phone cost is subsidized into the contract price. Actually in the long run over a 2 year contract period youll pay more than I will buying my phone for $600
Acidbaby (rep: 6.83k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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encorez
^ not if you plan on using that carrier anyways.......
encorez (rep: 9.96k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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fluffy
Aside from the economics of buying a phone outright, US cell carriers use different technologies, unlike most of the world. You can't just buy an iPhone and then decide if you are going to use AT&T or Verizon after the fact, because the signaling system is completely different. Even if two carriers use the same signaling technology, a given phone may not operate on all of the radio frequencies necessary to work on both. You can buy an unlocked phone to avoid long term contracts and early termination fees, but most of them are designed to work with only one carrier.
fluffy (rep: 2.17k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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erick99
I can buy a Galaxy III S on August 1rst, on sale, for about $175 as an upgrade (Wirefly) and continue to pay about $70 a month for Sprint's unlimited voice/text/data plan for a total two year cost of about $1,855. Or, I could buy the phone for about $650 and pay as low as $45 a month for unlimited everything (as Acidbaby explained) for a two year cost of about $1,730. The difference is about $125 in favor of buying the phone outright. For that small amount I'd just as soon not have to come up with $650 all at once for the phone. But that's just me. Someone else might find the $5.21 savings per month as attractive. I should note that I only used the two year contract time frame for this example. At three years the difference between the two methods would rise to $11.81 per month in favor of outright buying the phone.
erick99 (rep: 17.4k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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Acidbaby
The plus is you can upgrade phones more frequently and get a higher return on your old phone.

What fluffy is referring to isn't as complicated as it sounds when it comes to types of carriers. Your big 3 worldwide are GSM, CDMA and PHS. If you have a GSM phone such as ATT it will work most anywhere in the world there is a GSM carrier. My iPhone is from the telecom company Softbank in Japan the reason being is the iPhone is pretty weak in Japan and for awhile (not sure if they still do) iPhones were free to
Military and students of japan. Which I acquired mine through my daughter who lived in Atsugi.
Acidbaby (rep: 6.83k) posted Jul 16, 2012
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MdavidK30
Acid baby- Most of the time that may be, but BBATTAG is correct.
A lot of the times you can get some really great deals on the company's phones. Also, take in mind, that if you buy one certain phone, usually you have to get the correct service which adapts to that particular phone, for instance, if you buy a METRO PCS phone, it may not be compatible to the VERIZON network. Or a TMOBILE phone may not be compatible to something else.
See where I'm going? Most of the time, it is best to the phone with the 2 year contract, of course you can always modify the deal once you get it. It may be easier that way.
MdavidK30 (rep: 3.56k) posted Jul 17, 2012
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Acidbaby
It doesnt matter if you get a phone for free from ATT, Verizon or whoever. It still costs more over the length of a 2 year contract. Its a gimmick dude, all contract cell phones are subsidized into the price of the plan.

Lets do the math. Lets say the hot new phone. Galaxy S3, with a contract it is $200 (yes you can get it cheaper for less, it doesnt matter) We'll go with ATT, the minimum plan for that phone is $40 add on the data package. $30 for 3GB. There is $70, + tax and all the surcharge fees. Youll be looking at about $85 a month. 24 months x85=$2040+$200 for the phone $2240 - Lets say somehow you managed to pay less for the phone. Maybe even free. Youre still looking at $2040 for24 months.

Now buy the phone at full price. $550. Subscribe to the Straight Talk unlimited plan which is $45 a month. 24 months x $45=$1080+$550 for the phone= $1630. You do not get charged surcharge fees or regulatory fees with ST or other prepaid providers. Just state income tax. So monthly your looking at maybe $3 for taxes so we'll just add another $40 which brings us to $1670. Now if you prepay your plan for the year you get a discount with ST. 1 year of unlimited service is $495+ the phone = $1045+ taxes brings you to roughly lets do a nice big round up to $1100.

Now tell me youre getting a good deal on a phone when you sign a contract. Here is 5 minutes worth of info working with the hottest phone in the USA right now and the difference is quite a bit. Even if you were able to get the SG3 free somehow youre paying almost double what you could be paying buying it outright and going with another provider. At the worst you still paying $500 more during the life of your contract compared to someone who pays full price and shops around. And this is just one example.
Acidbaby (rep: 6.83k) posted Jul 17, 2012
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rainday
Is it works? will have a try, good way to save my money..
rainday (rep: 15) posted Jul 18, 2012
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MdavidK30
Acid Baby- True on your calculations; but you can always find the cheapest plan to start with.
I'm just saying. You don't have to get their plan. But, you still get the free phone. The biggest rip off is in the UPGRADE of the phone.
MdavidK30 (rep: 3.56k) posted Jul 18, 2012
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Acidbaby
I dont get what youre saying. If you get a free phone yes you have to use it with the provider you bought it from. You cant upgrade a phone without extending your contract.
Acidbaby (rep: 6.83k) posted Jul 18, 2012
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Acidbaby
What are you talking about? Nobody reviewed any phone.
Acidbaby (rep: 6.83k) posted Jul 19, 2012
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dealwagger
For me, it would be worth the savings to buy the phone outright. Thanks for all the good discussion, you all gave me lots of great pointers :)
dealwagger (rep: 10.2k) posted Jul 20, 2012
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