Following on from our post last week about the joys of mobile internet I thought we would take a closer look at possibly the cheapest way of accessing the internet, a mobile phone. The Joys of Mobile Internet.
People think that mobile phones are expensive and that you need a long term contract to be able to afford them. To a certain extent this is true, the latest Apple and Samsung flagship phones can cost over £1000 to purchase, there are many more options out there.
You don’t need a contract for a smartphone, you can buy one yourself and put a pay as you go sim card in it. This means that when you use all of the credit you have paid for you can no longer call, text or use the internet. The phone will still accept calls, but just won’t make them. This is a great way of ensuring you get no unexpected bills. Even with contracts it is possible to set limits so you don’t get big bills, just speak to your phone service provider.
The biggest question is what type of phone you need. There are three main types of smartphone based on the operating system they use. These are Apple, Android and Windows Phone. I personally do not recommend getting a Windows Phone, as they are no longer fully supported, meaning you may struggle to find apps to do the things you want. Apple phones tend to be expensive new, but because of their popularity they can be found second hand at reasonable prices for the older models. Android phones are by far the cheapest, a new Android handset can be purchased for around £50 both online and in supermarkets now. Both Apple and Android handsets will allow you to browse the internet and install apps that can help you, such as having your email sent directly to your phone.
There is one major thing you need to be aware of when buying a phone, either new or second hand. The first is network locked handsets. This means that the phone can only be used with a sim card from one provider, such as EE or Vodaphone. This is fine if you stay with the same phone service provider, but if you move to a different network your new sim card will not work. Whilst it is possible to get a network locked phone unlocked this can be expensive, so it may be worth getting an unlocked phone to start with. Most supermarkets sell unlocked handsets, as do Amazon and Ebay.
The next choice is the network you go with. Most networks will supply a pay as you go sim card, but the rates can vary by quite a lot. Most networks offer bundle deals, where you can use your credit to purchase a bundle of calls, text and data. However if you are new to mobile phones you won’t know how many minutes, texts or gigabytes of data you will be using, so it may be worth starting with a sim that charges you for each as you use it. Three mobile do a pay as you go plan called 3-2-1 where you are charged 3p a minute for phone calls, 2p for a text message and 1p for a megabyte of data. This is a good place to start, as you can monitor your usage and then buy bundles in the future if they will save you money.
This all sounds complicated, but luckily there are people who can help you navigate all of the variables around phones and sim cards. Our Digital Champions can help you find the right handset and sim card to fit your budget, just pop in to one of our sessions to discuss what you need.