Friday, 22 March 2013

Frugal Friday

As I've mentioned before, I have had an iPhone for several years now, and absolutely love it! As Martin Lewis rightly says, they are certainly NOT moneysaving, with a high upfront cost and often more expensive running costs than a basic mobile, too. On-contract iPhones require a specific tariff as a rule, or if you are on PAYG then additional top-ups to allow for data use, so this has to very much be looked at as a luxury. "Oh, but it can be kept far lower if you don't use the internet on them" I can hear some smuggies exclaiming   - well yes, it can, but if that's the case then you might as well sell the expensive shiny toy and get a basic mobile instead, mightn't you!

A very exciting parcel...
Although clearly a smartphone, and specifically an iPhone, IS a luxury, for many of us it also has a lot of benefits - being self employed mine allows me to get work-related emails wherever I am, for example, and keep easy track of my diary. I make regular use of Twitter to keep in contact with people and to catch up on news etc. I use various Traffic-watch apps to work out when we should be avoiding the motorway in the mornings, for example, and this in turn helps keep our commuting costs down as we're not getting stuck in nose to tail traffic needlessly. I have a free Sat-Nav app which can be very useful. At the end of the day, while it is indeed a shiny toy, it's a useful shiny toy!

...with very exciting contents...
I decided that the time had come for my old one to be updated - it's beginning to get quite slow, chomps through battery charge in big bites, and has a small (but getting larger) crack on the rear case. It's also approaching the point where some updates to apps and software won't be supported any more, and so I wanted to upgrade before all these things became a problem. Since I got the first one, I have been popping aside small amounts of money whenever I could afford to in a savings account against an upgrade being needed at some stage, so the money was sitting there to buy a brand new one should this be required. This gradual stashing aside of funds against a replacement works better than paying for expensive mobile phone insurance policies for many people - if you're not someone who has a reputation for dropping, losing, or flushing (!) personal belongings, then this may work for you.

A refurbed phone still comes with all the "bits"
So, the research: I popped into an Apple store to handle both the older 4S, and the new iPhone 5 next to one another. While I didn't think I was particularly bothered about getting the 5, I wanted to reassure myself that this was definitely the case, so as to avoid any possibility of regretting my choice afterwards. Sure enough I didn't like the feel of the newer model in my hand, so the decision was made. This also has the advantage that all my current accessories, with the exception of the case, will work with the new phone. My current iPhone 3GS was the 16gb model - one of the smaller ones, but in fact I have never come close to filling this up, so there was certainly no point in me paying the extra to get a larger capacity model. I've been with Tesco Mobile for quite some time, their network is supported by o2, and a good look around at coverage maps for all the major networks told me that the only one which would provide me with BETTER coverage for the areas that I required than I was currently getting was Vodaphone, and their tariffs weren't competitive for me. THIS SITE proved to be very useful for making comparisons. (Thanks to whoever mentioned that one to me!). In terms of usage, at the moment I spend very little on calls, send a reasonable (but not 15 year-old-girl excessive) number of texts, and require at least 500mb of data per month. I currently top up with £15 credit roughly every second month, so an average monthly spend of £7.50, although this is starting to increase a little - £9 per month is probably closer to being accurate, and I also knew that I was approaching a point where looking at a pay monthly, or SIM only contract, might be worthwhile for me.

You honestly would NOT know this wasn't brand new!
The decision: iPhone 4S, 16gb, Black (well naturally - whilst I LIVE in Essex, I'm not actually an Essex girl, you know!) with the o2 network, either staying with Tesco or via another provider. I knew already that this phone was available direct from Apple at £449. The question was whether this could be beaten?  I wandered over to o2's site to see what deals they are currently offering, and one of the first thing that jumped out at me was they offer refurbed iPhones - in their own words "It's a used phone that's been restored to its original state, so it's as good as new." Now these used to occasionally be available from Apple, too, but are quite literally like Rocking-Horse wotsit - actually getting your hands on one before the "Out of Stock" sign goes up has always been tricky as anything. (My suspicion is that the ones o2 are now offering are actually Apple-refurbed products, although I may be wrong on that.) A bit more research revealed that the exact phone I want, as a refurb, was available for £239.99 upfront cost on a £17 per month  24 month contract. For this I will get the 500mb of data that I needed, plus unlimited texts, and 300 inclusive minutes, meaning that I can use the phone pretty much as much as I want without worrying about additional costs mounting up. Allowing for the £210 saving on the upfront cost of the phone, the contract cost works out as an average £8.25 per month. I also went via the Quidco shopping site when I made the purchase, which earned me £25 (£20 after Quidco take their annual fee from this) in cashback additionally.

Not a mark on it - and sets up as a brand new one, too.
The whole process did take quite a lot of time - largely because I was determined to look at all the possible options to work out which one would suit me best. If I was going to be stuck in a contract for 2 years, I wanted to feel confident that the one I'd chosen suited my requirements, gave me good value for money and was at a price I could afford even if my income fell. It's not wrong to buy/want luxuries, no matter what some worthy souls would tell you to the contrary - assuming that you can afford them, aren't borrowing to get them, and they will be of good value to you. Having decided to buy them - make sure you enjoy them!


Already snug in its new (and very cute!) case!


Scarlet said...

J and I have both just taken out new contracts. I find looking at phones tedious, but he loves looking for the best deals so I told him to find me a phone with plenty of minutes so that I can ring my Mum, for the cheapest price possible. I now have a shiny phone from Tesco for 7.50 per month, which has plenty of minutes, ample internet allowance and more texts than I'd ever use! J wanted something he can watch live sport on aswell as use for phoning/ texting and the internet. He shopped around and found what he wanted for 11.00 per month with O2 which was much cheaper than any other provider. We're both enjoying having them and getting more than our money's worth out of them, so I think that makes them a worthwhile purchase despite what others may say.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

When my Xperia X1, which was second hand itself, refused to charge two weeks ago I started ask myself what I actually use it for other than playing Spider Solitaire in bed and taking my Family History to the Archives. Answer - very little as the signal at our house is rubbish and I don't go out much now - except to said Archives where you have to turn your phone off!!!
So I've put my sim card in my old brick (calls and texts only) which I can leave on the window sill upstairs where it will get a signal and bought a second hand tablet. Bigger screen for family history, I can read books on it and still play solitaire in bed, although there is less room for the cat on my chest now!

Robyn said...

That's the key isn't it - Martin Lewis' money Mantras say it all - Can you afford it, will you use it, can you get it cheaper elsewhere. Once those boxes have all been ticked, then it's job done so far as I'm concerned! I'm utterly delighted with my new phone so far - glad you both are too Scarlet!
L - that's a great and practical decision - I can see you getting so much use from the Tablet, and it's a real multi-tasker too, isn't it!

lonestarsky said...

Must admit I've never felt the urge for an iphone, mainly because my current phone does all I need it to (free blackberry which I just upgrade every couple of years for a newer, but free, model - I only use it for phone, text and emails). Iphones do seem fun though, and I like having a quick play on other people's iphones when I get the chance :) I totally agree that if you can afford it and will make full use of it, its a worthwhile spurge.