12 Month Mobile Contracts

March 28, 2011

So, I love my technology, and having a 12 month contract was great. I was able to buy the latest greatest handset at the time, and within a year (normally as I could upgrade in my last month of my contract), get the next latest greatest handset. Then, Mobile Networks got greedy. There is no other reason for it. The TCO of a phone can be calculated, and theoretically, it should be around the same to own a phone for 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months. Yes, if you tie in for longer, you can get a bigger discount on the handset, and probably more minutes.

The problem is though, 12 month contracts just disappeared. I tweeted it once to O2, and they stated they still did them, but they were only simplicity ones, forcing me to purchase a handset at FULL COST. That’s not a 12 month contract that I want. I want a handset at a discounted cost, with a tariff. I know it’ll cost me more. I actually signed up to an 18 month contract, and cancelled it early, as no one would offer me a 12 month contract for the handset. But now they’re back.

Vodafone have just re-launched the 12 month contract. One where you can choose a tariff, with minutes, texts, and data, and you get a phone, but you have to pay a little bit for the phone. Look at these nice examples, and lets compare over the networks who is the best deal.

iPhone 4 16GB – Handset Cost £299 – 12 Month Contract – £35 Month – 300 Minutes – Unlimited Text – 500MB Data – TCO £719 – Vodafone
iPhone 4 16GB – Handset Cost £235 – 12 Month Contract – £40 Month – 750 Minutes – 5000 Text – 1GB Data – TCO £715 – Tesco Mobile
iPhone 4 16GB – Handset Cost £204 – 18 Month Contract – £36 Month – 300 Minutes – Unlimited Text – 500MB Data – TCO £852 – O2

Blackberry Torch - Handset Cost £179 – 12 Month Contract – £35 Month – 300 Minutes – Unlimited Text – 500MB Data – TCO £599 – Vodafone
Blackberry Torch – Handset Cost £350 – 12 Month Contract – £22.50 Month – 500 Minutes – 5000 Text – 1GB Data – TCO £620 – Tesco
Blackberry Torch - Handset Cost £0 – 18 Month Contract – £35.25 Month – 300 Minutes – Unlimited Text – 500MB Data – TCO £644- O2

The marketing of mobile phones is excellent, that a free phone, and free gifts, and free minutes etc, are amazing. I don’t think I’ve seen an 18 month contract through to the end, always paying up early, just to upgrade. I have no qualms about which network I choose, I travel around the UK, and they all have good service in major cities, and shit service in their own areas where service is poor. Not many networks give me a great 3G signal at home.

Anyway, onto the point of this blog post. Vodafone are now offering 12/18/24 contracts with various phones. Not all, but the phones they do offer on 12 months seem to be the higher specification handsets anyway, which is good. I think they’re understanding geeks. Tesco off 12 months too, as a virtual network, they’re not bad, however, I think some of the time, the upfront cost for the handset is too high, the example there of the Blackberry, to discourage people signing up for it. The HTC Desire HD is the same price. I’d rather pay more per month for my contract (within reason), and have a reasonable up front cost. So Tesco, you’ve got it wrong there, why would anyone pay £350 for a handset you can get for £380 SIM free - http://m4rk.in/eYHeHN. For £179 though, It’s about right. £150, and the nail would have been hit on the head.

Are any other networks going to follow suit, and offer premium handsets on 12 month contracts around the same cost. I know their customer service is shocking at times, but if Three did, I’d probably join them, as their data plan right now is unbeatable (even on a payg sim, I still get a “limit” of over 80GB, not that I use more than 200mb on my work phone though). Now, all I need is someone to offer me the new HTC Desire S on a 12 month tariff, and I’ll snap it up.

O2, Three, Orange/T-Mobile – Vodafone have set the price levels, the premium handsets, at a fair price (most android ones are under £200), are you going to follow suit to give the consumer some choice?


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