Buying Your Phone vs. Contract

Image from Digital Trends
This morning in my Telegram group chat with fellow tech enthusiasts, a good conversation stirred up regarding buying a phone at full price vs. going on contract with a cellular provider. It was quickly apparent that there was almost a 50/50 split when it came to which choice one would make.

I told the group that a family member of mine is in the market for a new smartphone. She'd like an Android device again to upgrade from her GS3. I suggested my phone, the LG G4 since it's only $150 down payment on a 2-year plan with Rogers. Else, perhaps the older, yet still a viable option, the Sony Xperia Z3. That phone is only $50 on a 2-year plan.

Sylvain asked why I didn't suggest the LG Nexus 5X. A great phone choice, indeed! However, said family member does not have the coin to drop a full amount on a brand new phone. Plus, she doesn't see the point in buying outright. I admitted I didn't either for her, nor myself even.

This really sparked the conversation.

Buying Outright

For some, buying their phones outright makes sense - be it every six months, yearly, every two years, and so on.

Sylvain mentioned that he bought his smartphone in full, and pays for a month-to-month plan of only $15/month. This is certainly saving him some good coin in the long run! However, if you're dependent on a lot of features and data, this may not work for everyone.

Adam Slobodian brought up good points. A contract locks you in, so you cannot leave a carrier easily in order to get a better plan elsewhere. When you own an unlocked phone, you can go from carrier to carrier without restrictions. Plus, unlocked devices are easier to sell, and the money made on the sale can be put towards the next device.

I was naturally inclined to agree with the two of them, as was Andrew Penner. He and I said that if we could afford to go that route, we'd be doing the same thing. A new smartphone every six months or yearly? Yes please!

Alas, there's a difference between want and need, and most do not need a new device that often. My old Moto X 2013 went on for years without an issue, and had I not won my LG G4, I may still be using it now. Andrew says he's using his LG G3 still and it works like a charm.

On Contract

I'm fairly confident when I say the majority of Canadians still go to the carriers for their devices.

Back to the case where a family member of mine is looking to upgrade her GS3, she told me she didn't have a large sum of money to pay for a new or used smartphone in full. I told her that was understandable since I'm in the same boat, as are most people.

I have a $60/month plan through Rogers. Unlimited talk/text in Canada and 5GB/month data. It's not a shared plan and I hope to stay like that as long as possible.

My Moto X 2013 is paid off now. The 2-year point ended back in May or so. I have my LG G4 now, but I am still paying Rogers the exact same monthly fee. There is no option to pay something less without changing my plan or removing options.

So what's the point then? The forced mentality here is, "I may as well upgrade to another phone if I'll just keep paying the same thing!"

I have no doubt that all carriers want us to think this way. It is more money in their pocket.


So how about you? What is best for you? Cast your vote in the embedded poll below!