Buy a Contract Phone and You're Stuck With It For Two Years

In the modern world, mobile phones rank somewhere among the most utilised and most essential devices we own. Yet, despite their importance, many of us purchase them in a short-sighted manner, with relatively little consideration for the future. One such example of this is the prevalence of 'free' contract handsets.

Leaving aside the issue of the premium rates paid for these contracts, which make the handset anything but free, many people overlook the fact that these phones are a contractual obligation. Put simply, if you buy a contract phone, you are going to be stuck with it for the duration of the contract. In most cases, this is two full years!

Cutting Edge

So why does this contractual obligation matter? Well, first of all, if you make the wrong choice and don't like the phone you've opted for, you have relatively little 'wiggle room'. You either have to put up with it for 24 months, or you have to buy out the contract - in which case you may as well have bought the handset outright.

However, a more pertinent point may be that, in the fast-paced world of mobile phone technology, two years is a long time. For those who want to have the latest gadgets, with all their cutting-edge features, buying a contract phone is extremely inefficient, because their phone will not remain cutting-edge for the duration of usage.

Pace of Technology

To provide an example, the iPhone 4, released in 2010, had the longest stint as Apple's flagship iPhone model so far, but even it remained the flagship model for just 15 months. This means that someone buying the iPhone 4 on release day, on a two year contract, would eventually face a nine month wait to own the latest model again.

If you bought that phone on a two year contract in September 2011, when it was still the flagship handset, you would have seen the release of four follow ups - the iPhone 4s, the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s - before you could upgrade. If you bought it on a three year contract, you may have also missed the release of the iPhone 6.

The same situation can be observed with other devices. For instance, in the last two years, there have been six different Samsung Galaxy models released, including the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. With some mobile phone models, as was the case with BlackBerrys a few years ago, the two year wait for an upgrade can result in mobile and App technology leaving you behind completely.

Ultimately, this is one of the key advantages of purchasing a SIM only contract, rather than buying a contract phone. SIM only contracts enable you to upgrade whenever you see fit, with no obligation to continue using the same device for a set period of time, allowing you to genuinely stay up-to-date with the latest technology.