“The cheapest monthly option is really to go for the 36 month payment period that all three telcos offer now. But you’re still paying the same amount for your phone, and it does mean you’re locked in to your provider for longer,” Ms Donnelly said.
“If you do have the money to pay outright I recommend doing that because that means you can go to a cheaper SIM provider. Entry level SIM-only plans across the three major providers are around $40 to $55 per month, whereas if you look across the MVNOs or smaller brands you can get the same amount of data for $20.”
When a new iPhone arrives, prices of the older devices reliably go down. The recommended retail price (RRP) for the iPhone 12 for example used to be $1699, and now it’s $1349. Given the 12 and 13 lines are extremely similar, looking at last year’s model can also be a good way to lower your costs whether you’re buying outright or on a plan.
Apple has also recently tweaked the lineup of phones it offers in general, removing some models so it’s left with just the new 13 line, the 12 and 12 mini, the 11 and the lower-cost iPhone SE. To get the benefits of buying outright, you could look down the line to find an RRP that suits your budget rather than locking into years of repayments on an iPhone 13.
And of course the smartphone ecosystem is a lot broader than just a collection of iPhones; just because Apple’s released a new device doesn’t mean that’s the one you should get.
Samsung for example has most recently released its pair of folding phones — the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 — which offer unique form factors at prices and plans comparable to the iPhone 13 line.
But the company also has a deep lineup of less expensive phones from the ultra-budget A12 at $299 to the premium mid-range S20 FE at $800. Or there’s always the likes of Oppo, Nokia and Motorola to consider, and Google is due to unveil its Pixel 6 next month.
Ms Donnelly said buyers should weigh up the features and specifications they actually need when choosing a phone.
“There are plenty of mid range and cheaper phones that give you all the basics,” she said.
“Nice cameras, good battery life, a lot of the same stuff that people like in Apple phones for a much cheaper price.”
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