Your cell phone today bears a greater resemblance to a computer than an actual phone. In fact, an iPhone X or Galaxy S9 today has far more computing power than the computers used to guide the Apollo 11 spaceship to the moon.
But those advancements often come with a cost far greater than the simple cell phones of 10+ years ago. The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to bring those skyrocketing prices back to earth, helping you save money on your cell phone.
1. Check network compatibility
Some phones are not compatible with all networks. Buying a phone that is only compatible with certain carriers’ networks can limit you, should you later want to switch to another carrier offering a cheaper plan. Before you buy, check to see what carriers’ networks the phone is compatible with. Additionally, the CRTC has put an end to locked cellphones, meaning carriers can no longer sell locked phones and currently locked phones must be unlocked for free.
2. Follow the new release, but buy one generation down
Watch for new releases from the major carriers. Buying an old phone close to obsolescence isn’t worth it, but buying the next to latest model may help you save money on a new cell phone. Watch for discounts on these next-to-latest models in the months before and after the release of the newest models.
3. Check for expandability
A small built-in amount of storage may make your phone very limiting, particularly if you use a lot of apps, film lots of videos or are hopelessly addicted to selfies. Manufacturers will try and upsell you to models with the most internal storage as this is where much of their profit comes from. Check to see if the phone has an expansion slot, which will prolong the usability of your phone. Buying an expandable memory card can end up being much cheaper, saving you money on your cell phone over the long run. Alternatively, some manufacturers may offer some free cloud storage, thus eliminating the need to purchase as much internal storage.
4. Bundle it up
Unless you have the sure hands of an CFL wide receiver your cell phone is likely to take a few spills and tumbles. Pay the extra for a solid shock-resistant protective case and screen protector. Smart phone screen repairs for the latest model smart phones range from around $200 to $360.
5. Check refurbished deals
Many retailers, manufacturers and carriers sell refurbished phones and the savings can be significant. Refurbished phones may be regular returns, gifted phones that got returned or phones that had to be repackaged. Some refurbished models carry the same full warranty, while others may be as short as 90 days.
6. Give it a try
The CRTC’s Wireless Code now allows for a 15-day trial period for you to determine whether a service meets your needs and includes at least half of the monthly usage amount in your contract. If you self-identify as having a disability, you’re eligible for an extended trial period of 30 days and a greater usage amount.
Cell phone functionality may often warrant the expense, as their capabilities and selection of services soar. However, buying strategically and protecting your purchase may add years of life to your phone and save you money in the process.