Why No Contract Smartphones Do Not Suck
The major cell phone companies will boast amazing prices on brand new smartphones. You may see them for “sale” at $100 all the way down to free depending on the smartphone brand or model. If you look at the small print the requirements necessary to take advantage of these prices, you will usually see “2 year or longer contract required”.
“What difference does it make?”
“The phone is being given to me at such a low initial cost.”
That may be so, but in the long run, you may be losing hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the long run. The key to understand is that the cell phone plan will be higher than normal to subsidize the cost for the phone plus more!
Let’s take for example the Samsung Galaxy S3. There is a deal on this phone with one major cell phone company at around $30 with a 2 year contract. The plan for unlimited talk, text and web starts at $99 per month. Over the 2 year life of the plan, you will have spent $30 + ($99 x 24months) which equals $2406 without any additional taxes and fees.
Compare that to buying the same smartphone as an unlocked GSM phone. It can be found on Amazon at $430. If you purchase it outright and use it with a StraightTalk or Net10 plan at $45 per month, the total costs comes to $430 + ($45 x 24 months) equals $1510.
This is about a $900 savings!
Be mindful that this example only explores a single phone, with an individual plan for 2 years. If you have to have multiple lines, the costs can be exponentially higher.
Let’s face it, service can be a big factor in whether or not you consider if your cell phone company useful for you or not. If your smartphone is your main line of communication then you will always want to be connected. Consider for a moment that most no contract smartphone carriers use the same cell phone towers as many of the large cell phone companies in the US. StraightTalk, Wal-Mart Family Mobile, Net10 and PagePlus all use the cell phone towers from either Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint. This means you are getting the same service you would be getting on a contract plan, but for less.
We all know that in some places service is better with some carriers than others. This is all based on where and how close the local cell phone towers for your carrier are. You may get great service at your job, but lousy service at home or vice versa. This is where having an unlocked no contract smartphone can be very beneficial. With an unlocked smartphone, you are not locked into a carrier, meaning you can switch the service you are using on a whim. All you need to do is purchase and activate a sim card for the carrier you want to use beforehand. This means that you can purchase one cell phone carrier service for work and another for home if you wish to do so. Also, if you travel internationally, you can save countless dollars by purchasing a sim card for your smartphone when you have arrived at your location. You can also decide to purchase a month with one smartphone carrier, and the next month with another carrier what you feel are the best deals or cost of service from one month to the next. Now with the addition of Google Voice, your callers can use the same phone number to contact you no matter which sim card you use. This gives you great flexibility in choice and freedom, and you are not tied to one carrier if you service does not work for you. See our ultimate guide for no contract smartphones to tell you how.
Now there are a few downsides to no contract smartphones and service. One being that you have to purchase your smartphone at full price to get many of the benefits. But remember cell phones and smartphones offered and available come in a wide range of types and price ranges. Types of cell phones available range from regular cell phones up to the most advanced Android smartphones or even Apple iPhones.
Also, most phones bought from the carrier are “locked” into that carrier’s service only. Meaning, if you purchase directly from one of the no contract smartphone carriers, chances are you will not be able to switch sim cards if you want different service. Many get around this by purchasing unlocked smartphones from sources online, including Amazon, EBay and even Craigslist. Just remember, for most carriers you will need an unlocked GSM Smartphone that is usable on T-Mobile or AT&T. You can at anytime purchase your sim card for service separately at the major no contract smartphone carriers such as StraightTalk, Wal-Mart Family Mobile and Net10.