My phone contract is up.

28 Oct 2005
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United Kingdom
Who can direct me to a reasonable deal/spec. I've been using the Samsung S3 mini for the last couple of years. It's small and light and I don't use it for much other than texting/talking and occasionally Sat Nav and looking up tech manuals. 500 minutes/texts is plenty per month.
Should I get the handset included? Or SIM only? Any ideas folks?
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How much data do you use?

Which provider are you currently with?

How much do you value the latest handset?

How much a month did you pay?

When you weigh up paying for a contract, you need to look at the whole price: handset cost (if any) plus the monthly cost times the number of months the contract runs for.

Contracts are ridiculously overpriced, even taking into account the handset. As an example, when I was choosing, I wanted a Samsung Galaxy Mega I9250. I looked at a contract with Three, and when I looked at the total cost for 24 months, I could buy a handset SIM-free from Amazon, plus leave enough money every month for pay as you go top-ups, PLUS buy a new handset at the end of the 24 months if I wished.

If you are using a huge amount of data, Three is a good choice, as you can either buy a SIM only option with unlimited data or buy a PAYG add-on that gives you 300 minutes, 3000 texts and unlimited data for £15 a month. Standard PAYG rates are the cheapest in the business too, at 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per Mb data.

As with any mobile contract or SIM only deal, beware additional costs over and above your monthly allowances. Three and Tesco Mobile offer capping facilities where you can set your limits.

If you are considering leaving for a different network, the best thing to do to check the coverage in your home and the areas you frequent is to buy or get (often free) a PAYG SIM card on the chosen network, load it with a fiver, pop it in an old unlocked handset and see how it performs.

Do not forget also if you want to move network you do not have to lose your number. You can port it to the new network. Ask your existing network for a PAC (Port Authorisation Code). You then give this to the new network along with the serial number of the new SIM card and within a couple of days (usually) the transfer is complete.

Do not forget to use up your balance or allowances before your number is transferred or you will lose them.
You may like to keep your existing handset if you are happy with it, or buy a newer one like the S4 mini.

CPW have it on Voda and EE for 130+ 10 top up PAYG (it's a 4G phone) or from £120 upgrade.

If you buy most PAYG phones from CPW they are unlocked, despite their being labelled on a certain network. You can then put your own SIM in.

CPW have launched their own MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) called ID which piggy backs off Three.

Their most expensive SIM is £20 a month and the contract is a rolling 30 days so if you don't get on for whatever reason you can swap without a great deal of aggro:

Virgin do a £12 SIM only with 1200 minutes UL texts and 1GB data.

We use the minutes on our Virgin SIM instead of the landline to save money!
At the moment I'm with LIFE. I think it was the old phones4u. I pay around £15 per month. Can't remember off hand how much data, but I don't use it much. I've got Virgin Cable and landline. I quite like the idea of using their mobile network and keeping it all together. 1GB would be plenty of data. I think I might currently have 500mb. I'll check it out later.
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Yes. LIFE is P4U, but it must obviously be independent of the retail outlets, that went bump a while back.

£8 would get you 750/UL/500MB on a SIM only plan with LIFE. They are an MVNO like Virgin that piggy back off EE (Well to be exact, Virgin were formed before EE existed and they piggy-backed off T Mobile, but seeing as EE, T Mobile and Orange are all the same network now...)

So in this respect, swapping to Virgin should give you exactly the same coverage as you have now, as you should be using the same masts.

Beware though that you cannot cap spending with Virgin, so be careful that you don't go outside of your allowances and run up a large bill.

Sometimes you can get a better deal with Virgin SIM only if you are already a customer but not at the moment. The only sweetener is unlimited calls to other Virgin Mobile numbers. So, if your family/ friends were all on Virgin then you'd have free calls to each other.

Looking at Virgin's site, it appears they have bettered their offer since we have signed up and CPW have not caught up yet.
Their £12 deal is Unlimited calls and texts and 1GB data.

Argos have an offer on with the S5 mini if you want to be a bit more up to date than the S3 mini or the S4 mini. It's on SIM free at £280.

So, looking at your options, you can stick with your existing handset (already paid for) and have (eg) the £12 Virgin SIM only monthly.

You can buy an S4 mini for £130 with SIM only plan.

You can buy an S5 mini (G800F) for around £255 (Amazon) with SIM only plan.

The first option is obviously just £12 a month over a 24 month period.
The second option is £17.42 a month over a 24 month period.
The third option is £22.63 a month over a 24 month period.
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Secure Spark. Right. I think I'll stay with LIFE and get a sim only contract. I also think I'll get a refurbished Galaxy s4 for about £130. But what's the difference between the models, and which is recommended? I'd rather buy two disposable refurb ones than a brand new one, as they tend to get ragged with grit and screws in my pockets.
That £130 is for a branny, unless you want the full size S4, not the mini.

If you want a refurb S4 mini you should be able to do cheaper. If not, you may as well buy new and get a full warranty.

And if your handset gets stick, I really recommend a decent multi-part case (mine is Ballistic.... to prevent damage and more importantly, dust and carp getting in.

The number of times I have dropped, thrown and in one case hurled my phone across concrete floors and it is absolutely fine.

There are loads of versions of the S4, but I haven't time to go into them now: I shall come back later!
I can't go into best contract deals for you but can tell you that I had the S3 and was considering upgrading to just the S4 a while back because the S5's were still relatively new and too expensive. Every phone shop I went to actually told me that, as I had the S3, I should keep that until the S6 Edge was launched (wasn't that long) because the S5 would become a lot cheaper. Basically they all said that the S3 was a better piece of kit than the S4, which was having lots of issues reported and wasn't really worth trading up to. I now have the S5 and am more than happy that I waited a couple of months to get a better deal. I'm not sure if the same can be said for your S3 Mini, but may be worth checking.
Back to your S4 choices (there are more available for other markets!):

SM C101: S4 Zoom - hybrid phone/ camera - price £330 new

I9195: S4 Mini - smaller version - price £130 new

I9295: S4 Active - waterproof version - price £280 new

I9500: S4 with Samsung's own Exynos 5 Octa chipset but NO LTE (4G) - price £240 new

I9505: S4 with Quad core Snapdragon 600 chipset and 4G - price £224 new

I9505 Black: S4 Black Edition with black screen and mock leather back - price £247 new

I9505G: S4 with stock Android (ie like Google's own products) - price unknown

I9506: S4 with bigger choice of colours and better processor than I9505 - price £300 new

I9515:S4 Value Edition - slightly cut down version - price £266 new

All prices from Amazon.

The bargains for me are the mini followed by the standard S4, the I9505 at £224.

If you want the S5, the bog standard 4G model for this country and Europe is the G900F at £305 on Amazon, an £81 increase on the standard S4 I9205.
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Vectone piggyback off EE as well if you are interested. In other words, you will have the same signal.

Amazon have the S5 mini for around the £220 mark.
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I think I might get the S4 Standard and download the waterproof app. Thanks for all the information BTW.
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