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How to cut the cost of your mobile phone during the cost-of-living crisis

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For many of us, a mobile phone is an essential item, but with a cost-of-living crisis biting across the UK, are they becoming an expensive luxury? Read on for our Gadget Cover tips and tricks on how to cut the cost of your mobile phone and stay connected.  

Whether you’re partial to the envy-inducing looks and performance of a top-of-the-range flagship or a great-value budget phone, when you’re looking at a new mobile there’s bound to be an option to keep you happy.

Gadget Cover has a fantastic range of insurance policies perfect for your new gadget - iPhone 12 insurance is one of our most popular.

If you’ve bought a pricey iPhone 12 Pro Max or something else, you’ll no doubt be wondering whether you really need iPhone 12 insurance and what such a policy covers. Because when you’re looking to cut costs, you’ll want to make the right decision when it comes to insurance protection.

Cut your mobile costs with Gadget Cover

With a recent survey suggesting that 31% of us would never give up our mobile phone no matter how bad the cost of living crisis gets, it’s more important than ever to consider how to save money where we can.

Since January 2022, around one in six people have had to cut back on outgoings as a result of rising costs, while nearly 60% say they will soon have to.

As prices go up, you’ll want to make sure you’re cutting costs and saving money where you can, and getting the most out of anything you’re already paying for. More bang for your buck, but without losing out on the essentials! 

To help protect yourself from price increases, there are a variety of handy ways to save money, including on your mobile phone costs. In this article, we’ll explain the savings you could make on an existing contract, or when you're looking for a new handset.

Just because times are tough, it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to nice things. In fact, items such as mobile phones and iPhone 12 insurance are just some of the things that can make life that bit easier.

Follow our top tips and tricks for staying ahead of the squeeze on your household finances.

Do the maths on contract phones

When shopping for a new phone or looking to upgrade your plan, think twice before signing up to another lengthy contract. While it may seem like a low-cost option that allows you to spread the expense at first, a contract will often turn out to be more expensive overall.

Avoid mid-contract price rises and other hidden nasties by paying for a SIM-free phone upfront and adding a separate SIM-only contract into the bargain.

While this will require you to have the money to buy the phone outright, it will give you the most flexibility when it comes to finding the best deals on calls, texts and data.

It won’t just help you to keep future costs under control. With so many short-term SIM-only contracts to choose from, if your needs change or you see a better deal, it's easy to switch and save.

Consumer champion Which? has an excellent mobile phone contract calculator to help you work out what you could save. We recommend taking a look when you’re next shopping for a phone.

How much could you save?

At the time of writing, Tesco Mobile is selling the 128GB iPhone 12 on a 36-month contract with 3GB of data at £30.99 per month, with no up-front cost. That’s £1,115 over the three-year term.

On the other hand, purchase a 128GB iPhone 12 outright from a retailer like Argos or John Lewis and you’ll pay £679 up-front. Add a rolling one-month contract with Smarty for 4GB of data at £4 per month, and you could pay just £823 over the same three-year period.

With a mammoth saving of £292, what could that money buy you? Yes, it could make a decent dent in your energy or food bills, but are there more ‘fun’ ways you could use it?

An Apple Watch Series 7 would be on our wish-list. Just make sure to arrange gadget insurance to complement your iPhone 12 insurance at the same time.

Ask yourself, would a cheaper handset do the job?

When you’re looking for a new phone handset the very latest iPhone or flagship Samsung can be a very tempting prospect. However, you need to be aware you’ll be paying a significant premium for such sought-after devices.

For example, the iPhone 13 range is Apple’s current flagship with prices to match. But if you choose the previous iPhone 12, then you’ll still get stunning performance but at less cost.

Bear in mind there are many other tricks on how to save when you buy your next iPhone.

These include:

  • Selling or trading in your old iPhone.
  • Buying a second-hand or refurbished handset.

How much could you save?

The cost of the highly rated Google Pixel 6? £599. The cost of an iPhone 13 Pro Max? £1,049. A significant saving indeed.

Weigh up all your phone contract options

With household budgets going through such testing times, it’s important to consider all your options when choosing the best mobile phone contract for you. For example, have you considered Pay as you Go (PAYG) instead of a monthly SIM-only contract?

Over recent years, many providers have realised that consumers are looking for ways to avoid expensive mobile phone contracts. And one answer is PAYG.

PAYG is a type of mobile phone plan where you only pay for what you use. Rather than paying a fixed monthly amount and either overpaying or needing more than you bought, PAYG gives you complete control over what you’re spending.

Check your current provider's PAYG rates to see how much calls, texts and data would cost if you just pay for what you use. And be sure to look at what rivals are offering.

One of the top picks currently available is from the well-named provider 1pMobile, which charges 1p per MB of data, 1p a minute for a phone call, and (you guessed it!) 1p per text.

Check the small print carefully, though, since on this deal you need to top up £10 every four months or face disconnection.

How much could you save?

This will depend on how much you use your phone and what for. If you use your phone a lot then PAYG might not be the best option.

Check you’re not overpaying for things you don’t use

When you’re looking at premium phones on tantalising deals offering so much, it’s all too easy to get tempted into buying something you don’t actually need. And we’re not just talking about choosing between a 64GB iPhone SE or a 512GB iPhone 12 Pro Max.

For example, many of the more expensive mobile phone contracts will try to draw customers in with unlimited data deals. But ask yourself, are you a really heavy data user? If not, then most of what you’re paying for will end up going to waste.

A useful task to do before looking for the best deal is to get an accurate idea of the calls you make and the data you normally use. That way you’ll know how much you really need and won’t get seduced into an unnecessarily expensive contract.

This makes price comparisons much easier and it alerts you to whether you’re regularly going over your allowance and getting large bills as a result. 

How much could you save?

A low-data contract such as 4GB of data from TalkMobile costs £4.95 a month, whereas an unlimited data plan from EE costs £28 a month.

There is a bewildering array of other options to choose from, such as 15GB of data from PlusNet for £8 a month or 30GB of data from Three for £10 a month. (Prices correct at time of writing)

Consider switching outside the 'big four'

With research showing that over 40% of contract customers believe they’re overpaying, there’s a growing trend for people to switch mobile providers.

If your contract is coming to an end, it’s a good idea to look beyond the ‘big four’ networks – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

Big mobile phone brands like Apple or Samsung often provide customers with reassurance that they’re getting the very best product available. And in these uncertain times it’s easy to see why consumers would apply the same logic to choosing a mobile network provider.

However, when it comes to saving money, this isn’t always the best idea. Particularly if you’re a low data user, the big four networks are often at the more expensive end of the market.

And that offers you an opportunity to save. To get ahead of their larger rivals, many smaller providers often run great deals on their packages, which can mean extra savings for you.

Just be aware of price increases after the end of any introductory deals. Sometimes it can be a very short honeymoon period indeed!

How much could you save?

At the time of writing, a 5GB SIM-only deal with EE costs £12 a month. Compare that to Lebara, a virtual network that uses Vodafone’s signal, which offers 5GB data for just £5.90 a month.

Don’t be afraid to haggle

woman reading contract

Telling your provider you’re looking to switch is a good way to get the ball rolling and find you a better deal once your contract has ended. In a competitive market, your current supplier will usually try hard to keep you.

Before approaching your provider it’s a good idea to consult comparison sites to work out what SIM-only deals are currently available on the market. By knowing how much less you could be paying if you move, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate a deal.

As well as talking about the deals you’ve seen elsewhere, you’ll also need to be prepared to raise any problems you’ve had with your provider. Poor customer service or coverage problems could give you a useful tactical advantage during any negotiation.

Even if they won’t agree to a price discount, extra perks such as increased data, international roaming, free cinema tickets or shop discounts could all be offered. Just be sure any perks that convince you to stay are ones you’re likely to use.

Remember, you can always change your mind and back out if you'd like to stay after all. There really is nothing to lose by haggling.

And if you don’t know where to start, follow these handy tips for haggling with mobile phone providers:

  • Check your contract. If your long term contract is about to end then you are in a great position to get a better deal.
  • Don’t forget, you have the advantage. This is a competitive industry and they will want to keep existing customers. But always stay polite and friendly.
  • Do your research and be prepared to use it. By knowing what competitors are offering you’ll be in the best position to confidently push for a great deal.
  • Call your mobile phone provider and find out what their best deal is.
  • If they don’t come up with something you’re happy with then ask to be put through to their disconnections or retention department. They should be able to provide you with a more interesting offer.
  • Unless you’re completely happy, don’t accept the first offer they come up with. Could they throw in any extra perks?
  • Ask for more time to consider if you want. Never feel pressured into accepting an offer.
  • If the plan doesn’t fit then be prepared to walk away and switch to a different provider.
  • Always make sure you read the small print on any new deal.

How much could you save?

In a recent Which? survey of 5,000 customers, the average mobile customer saved £35 a year by haggling for a better deal with their provider.

While those who ditched and switched to another provider made average savings of £40 on their bills.

Don’t forget to check on coverage

While we love to help you save money on such essentials as mobile phones and iPhone 12 insurance, that can’t be at the expense of great service. There’s no point saving money if you’re unable to use what you’ve paid for.

So, don’t forget that if you do decide to switch, double check whether your new supplier has good mobile phone coverage where you need it. As well as around your home you’ll also want to check you get good phone signals in other areas where you spend a lot of time.

Losing your phone signal can cause big problems for both home and work life. And we’re not just talking about missed calls or unsent messages between friends.

In these times of economic uncertainty you might even lose out on business to competitors or leave customers unhappy and unsatisfied. Something that could be disastrous when there’s already so much pressure on your bottom line!

The best way to check coverage is to use the Ofcom mobile and broadband coverage checker. Simply enter your postcode to view mobile coverage by provider.

Search for the best perks on offer

Many mobile network providers are under pressure to hold on to their share of the market. So, when looking around for a mobile you might find some excellent perks, freebies or discounts on offer.

Top perks currently on offer include:

  • A free 6-month Apple Music subscription from EE and free data boosts for PAYG customers.
  • The O2 Priority Tickets app which gives O2 customers early access to tickets for events at any O2 venue.
  • Treats galore through Vodafone’s VeryMe Rewards app.
  • Free access to the BT Sport app with BT Mobile, worth £10 a month.
  • Sky Mobile’s free data rollover scheme Sky Piggybank lets you build up a big store of any unused data.

How much could you save?

The worth of these perks will vary. For example, Apple Music costs £9.99 a month. So, if you would use this subscription service then signing up to EE could be well worth it.

Keep a close eye on your bill

Unexpected charges can play havoc with even the most carefully arranged budget. From roaming charges when travelling abroad to in-app purchases on your children’s favourite gaming apps, there’s lots of ways your bill could end up more expensive than usual.

How much could you save?

Depending on your contract, mobile roaming charges can reach extortionate levels in Europe. And even more when you go further afield. Keep an eye out or face a nasty case of post-holiday blues.

If you’re planning on travelling then many providers are now offering roaming add-ons, such as EE’s Roam Abroad package, which costs £10 a month.

Follow these top tips if you’re struggling to pay your bill

No company wants to see their customers struggling to pay their bills. So, if you start to find yourself getting deeper into the red then Citizens Advice recommends contacting your network provider as soon as possible.

Many of the UK’s network providers are putting measures in place to help customers through the cost-of-living crisis. For example, your provider could:

  • Change your bill date.
  • Set up an affordable way for you to clear any debts.
  • Reduce your bill.
  • Give you more time to pay.
  • Move you to a different tariff that suits your needs better at no extra charge.
  • Lower your spending cap to help budgeting.
  • Increase your data or download limit.
  • Agree to waive late payment penalties.

Get a quote for mobile phone insurance

Whether you’re looking for a great `value iPhone 12 insurance policy or protection for any other mobile phone you’ll need to get a quote from a team you can trust.

The importance of insurance protection during any economic crisis can’t be overestimated. Ask yourself the following questions when considering whether you need iPhone 12 insurance:

  • If your phone was lost, damaged or stolen, could you afford to repair or replace it?
  • If you had to repair or replace it, could you still afford to pay for everyday essentials?
  • Would you be happy using a cheaper or older model while your phone is being repaired?
  • Do you own the phone outright or are you still paying for it on a long-term contract?
  • Do you consider yourself a high-risk user?
  • Do you rely on your phone for work or business?
  • Do you plan on taking it abroad?
  • Will other family members be using your phone?

For more on whether you need mobile phone insurance and what it covers, read our Gadget Cover guide.

How much could you save?

With top-of-the-range mobile phones costing many hundreds of pounds to buy, if you don’t have insurance then you could be left substantially out of pocket.

Mobile phone insurance cover can cost anywhere from £5 up to £15 per month depending on the phone model, the level of cover offered and any additional extras.

When you consider that a new iPhone flagship could set you back over £1,000, the cost of insurance seems like a relatively small outlay. Not to mention the potentially substantial costs of repair!

iPhone 12 insurance and so much more from Gadget Cover

woman holding phone

Whatever model of phone you buy, with manufacturers vying to out-do each other for technological innovation and manufacturing marvels, you’re certain to be very happy with your purchase.

That’s why the team at Gadget Cover is always searching for the very best iPhone 12 insurance policies suitable for your device, requirements and budget.

Policies arranged through Gadget Cover can include protection against accidental damage, liquid damage, theft, breakdown and unauthorised usage as standard. And for an extra premium, your phone could be covered against loss, too.

Additional benefits include family cover to extend protection to your immediate family, unauthorised usage cover up to £2,500, accessories cover up to £150, worldwide cover to include use of your phone anywhere in the world, and e-Wallet cover up to £500.

Get a quote for iPhone 12 insurance from Gadget Cover today.

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