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How much would you spend on a new smartphone?

Expensive smartphones

It’s not the screen on your next smartphone that you need to worry about breaking. It’s the bank when you come to buy it outright. So what’s the cheapest way of enjoying the latest handheld tech?

Last week, the CEO of Dixons Carphone, Sebastian James, warned that it would see a sales slump this year, citing more expensive smartphones as a cause. It seems that people are holding onto their smartphones for longer, extending the two-year upgrade cycle we’ve all grown accustomed to.

Even as someone whose job involves writing about smartphones every day, I’m still in a state of permanent shock about just how expensive some mobiles are.

Last week, Samsung announced the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 to the world. The new model will cost a jaw-dropping £869 to buy outright. Sure, it comes with a suite of impressive-sounding features, but is it really worth that much money?

Like most people, I love to go on holiday. For my fairly humble tastes, £869 could more than easily cover a week-long jaunt abroad. However, I’m in my mid-twenties, which means I can spend many happy (if unsociable) hours of an evening on my smartphone, and I like to have the latest tech where possible. These two truths make it tricky for me to answer my own question.

Is it cheaper to go down the contract road?

A lot of people take out contracts with their smartphone, myself included. This means you don’t have to pay for the phone outright – rather you pay for the handset and a package of allowances for texts, minutes and data use over 24 months.

By opting for a contract, you avoid the initial heavy hit to your bank balance that buying outright incurs. For me, smaller monthly payments seem much more manageable than forking out hundreds of pounds.

But if I had my sensible hat on, I’d buy a phone outright and take out a Sim-only deal. It often works out cheaper over time. That said, some contracts do offer good value for money – so it’s worth getting out your calculator and working out the best option for you, to make sure you’re not paying much more than you need to.

Do you need to spend loads on a smartphone?

The simple answer is: no. You can spend less than £50 on a smartphone, if budget is your only consideration.

But you don’t want to be lumbered with a phone that makes you feel frustrated every time you use it. Fortunately, there are some brilliant cheap mobile phones out there with brilliant battery life and good cameras.

Would you spend nearly £900 on a smartphone?

No (95%, 1,525 Votes)

Yes (3%, 43 Votes)

I'm not sure (2%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,599

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However, if you want all the latest features and the fastest processors, you might need to spend a little more. But it’s really worth thinking about whether you need those extras.

One of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s key selling points is its S-Pen. This is a stylus that you use directly on the screen, for quickly jotting down notes or a phone number, for drawing something and more. Undoubtedly cool, but there’s not much point in paying extra for it if you’re not going to use it.

What do you think? Do you think it’s worth spending lots of money on a smartphone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


I bought a Galaxy S7 Edge last year, bought outright and have Sim-only with no contract. It replaced an 8 year old phone so there will probably be a Galaxy S15 before I replace this one.

That means my previous phone cost around £40 a year and this one will be around £90 a year.

I tend to buy the best one that I want and make them last as long as the phone does what I want it to do, I won’t change it. But it was nice to have a latest model even if it was only for a short time.


That’s precisely what I did; phone companies apply a huge mark up on their purchase contracts – I bought my Samsung Galaxy S7 edge direct from Samsung costing well over £100 less than the Virgin price. The only other angle to cover is the insurance; I’ve done this with my home insurance company.


I pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus…. I paid nothing upfront and my monthly tariff is £42 a month for 24 months. This includes 24gb of data, unlimited minutes and texts. The total cost to me will be £1008. Not a bad deal for a phone that costs £779 to buy outright.

Dr Robert K F Hughes says:
2 September 2017

I’m thinking of buying a Samsung S8 plus.
I travel a lot and am looking for a single item to replace my kindle , iPhone and iPad.
I am truly fed up with the way Apple has developed particularly in its attitude to , open source providers , and iTunes since version 6.
They have effectively stolen my own music library collected over 40 years and painstakingly loaded onto iTunes version 2.
So sod them and their Ecosystem ; which to my mind is a exploitative business model; I’m off to a Andriod Fablet which allows open source software providers to properly compete.


I can see why you are a Dr. Dr. Robert Hughes you have the perception to see the truth iTunes is like MS app store now where you pay for some apps and can only access it if you take out a Windows account and if you dont you have limited Windows access to Win 10 facilities and other programming problems are presented to you. I would never go back to closed source systems . The newer version of my Linux system just got an award as the “system of the year -2017 “- open source and 2 laptop sellers in the UK sell ready installed LInux – Entroware+ Starlabs systems –UK- many people have asked me if they can buy Linux installed as basic system NOT dual . No PC World “tricks ” there just genuine sales – 3 year guarantee. Redmond isn’t stupid it has bought into 10 % of Linux they know their closed system has a short future life.


It is three and a half years since I bought my first smartphone and it still works fine. I did buy the phone rather than choosing a contract with a ‘free’ phone.

When I need to replace my phone I will look at the options available. People don’t see that it is old because it lives protected in a leather case. I suppose I could get a ‘smashed screen’ app to make it look more modern. 🙂


I have not had a contract phone since 2003 and never intend to have one again.
Buying outright and using one of the many PAYG MVNO’s will save you in the long run.
My iPhone 6 cost me £370 new and I pay on average £6.50 a month credit on 3’s 321 sim.
My workmate pays 52 pounds a month on a 2 year contract for his 7.
He just doesn’t see it.


I just splashed out £39 and treated myself to a brand new Alcatel Pixi 4 4″.

Unlike many 5″ fones, my Pixi is not so big that it can easily fall out of my pocket. It cost £39 and takes my existing O2 sim-only contract sim card.

I’m not really a huge phan of fones and tablets – most of the time I’d sooner use a decent laptop (preferably with a maintained and secure OS).