Mobile Phone Tariffs – A Guide For The Mathematically Challenged
If you are looking to jump into a contract with a phone operator the market is wide open and the deals are somewhat staggering to consider. Under consideration is, first and foremost, cost, then the handset, talk time minutes, text messaging and data allowances. When you start mixing phones with different sets of these allowances, your mobile phone tariffs change drastically and often.
Once you have made a few informed decisions, choosing your plan becomes much simpler, but to look at the available plans as a whole and try to decide between the (literally) thousands of options would be a gargantuan task. Rather than selecting from thousands, we will learn how to break down the plans into bite-sized groups, eliminating unwanted extras along the way until we come to a final decision on the right phone and plan for you.
Here is a guide to figuring out what kind of tariff is right for you, based upon the factors outlined above.
Selecting a Handset
You are going to want to know what sort of phone you want, and this is going to depend on a number of factors. First off, operators will gladly give you a free handset of most makes and models, but it is important to note that the phone’s retail value is going to play an important role in setting the price you pay for minutes, texting and data. A more expensive phone, perhaps a Samsung Galaxy Note, can be yours for no upfront cost, but you are going to feel the cost when you look at your monthly minutes, text and data allowances.
The mobile phone tariff on a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 can run anywhere from £21 to £43 a month. At the lower price points, and we did not say low but lower, you are going to have limits to your usage. This is the price you pay for being handed a free, top of the line handset. In order to have the free phone and a high level of usage, you are going to be paying somewhere in the vicinity of £30 a month. Not bad, especially when you consider the power of the phone you get with the deal.
Two Phones, Different Tariffs
Nokia’s Lumia 920 falls into the middle ground of smart devices, with mobile phone tariffs beginning at a wallet-saving £18 a month. With the lowest costing plan around, the Nokia Lumia 920 can be yours at no upfront cost when you sign up with Tesco for a 24 month contract. This deal entitles you to only 250 minutes of talk time but unlimited text messages and 500 MB of data. The difference in the retail cost of these two phones is the reason for this disparity in price when it comes to monthly deals. When you choose a higher-end phone, you opt either for; fewer minutes and data or to pay a bit more for your allowances.
Apple’s iPhone 4S, 16GB model is another example of a higher-end phone which comes free with a contract, therefore raising the cost of minutes, texts, and data. The lowest mobile phone tariff for the iPhone 4S costs £33 a month, and this does not entitle you to unlimited minutes or data. Text messages are unlimited at this price, but talk time is a mere 600 minutes with a data allowance of 500 MB. Surely, you are not buying an iPhone 4S to look at it, so you will want to select a plan which gets you online more often than 500 MB will allow.
Vodafone has a deal for £25 a month with the iPhone 4S, but it does not come with a free handset. With this plan, customers must pay outright for the phone an initial £139.
So you see, the phone’s price is going to come out of your pocket, and if you cannot afford the minutes on a high-end phone, you are going to be looking at mid- or lower-end models in order to get the talk time, text and data prices down to a reasonable price.
Choose your Phone First
Should you already know which handset you will be purchasing, then you have dramatically narrowed down the search for your monthly phone tariff. If Nokia’s Lumia 920 is your handset of choice, you have only the operator, minutes, texts and data to select from.
The first (and easiest) question you will have to answer is, “Do I want a free phone, or do I want to purchase one outright?” Assuming you responded in favour of the free phone, now you get to decide how many talk time minutes you will need each month.
Heavy talkers and phone hogs are going to need no fewer than 1000 minutes, and 5000 is a better bet. This works out at over 2 hours on the phone every day, so this is only for the serious phone talker.
Frequent but short phone call makers and takers will typically use around an hour a day, so somewhere between 1000 and 2000 minutes is sufficient.
Phone call avoiders who prefer text communication might use less than 30 minutes per day, and some days none at all. For you, 500 – 1000 minutes will be just fine.
Hate talking on the phone? You can opt for just 50 minutes per month to use for your ten second calls to tell the other person to text you instead.
Now that you have narrowed down your minutes, it is time to figure out how much data you are going to need. 1 GB is quite a lot, enough for regular email checking, browsing for multiple hours per day, and watching Netflix during commutes.
You will want to figure out exactly how little data you can get away with, which will give the clerk or website helping you purchase your plan an idea of price ranges. All that is left is for you to do is pay, sign and start communicating.
Phil Turner was not sure what kind of mobile phone tariffs he should look at when purchasing a contract phone so he visited websites such as uSwitch which offered a lot of information.