How do I upgrade my phone?

Upgrade phone icon

So you’re coming to the end of your phone contract, and you’re tired of dragging around an ancient brick of a mobile. It’s time for a new one.

But before you get excited about getting a snazzy iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, make sure you read up on the best way to upgrade.

Should I stay with my network, or switch to a new one?

It depends entirely on what kind of deals are available to you.

It also depends on how much time you have left on your current contract. An early upgrade usually incurs a fee, but if you're in the window for an upgrade, your network may be able to offer you special deal on a new phone. 

However… that doesn't mean you have to take it. Once you've picked out a phone you'd like, it's always wise to look around and see what sort of deals are available from other networks too.

Bear in mind that a lot of networks will also allow you to trade in your old handset for cash - which could mean a nice discount on a new one.

Woman holding a smartphone and piggy bank

Upgrading your current contract

Upgrading on O2

O2 Refresh contracts work by splitting your bill into the 'Device Plan' (the cost of your handset) and 'Airtime Plan' (the cost of your O2 tariff). Once the price of your device has been paid off, the bill practically halves - and you can add a new phone onto it at any point after then. Or, if you want to upgrade early, you'll just have to pay off the remaining cost of the phone.

Find out if you can upgrade by logging onto your account or contacting O2.

Upgrading on Three

Three often has special deals that are only available for upgrading customers, which you can access from 38 days before your contract ends. You can still upgrade earlier than that if you wish, though you'll have to pay a fee, equal to the cost of the remaining months of your contract. On a one-month SIM plan, you can upgrade once you've been on the plan for three consecutive months.

Upgrade by contacting Three or visiting its website.

Upgrading on EE

With EE, you can upgrade to a new phone once you have less than 45 days left in your contract, so long as your bill is up to date. If you’re in the last 100 days of your contract, you can upgrade to the latest device for no early upgrade fee – as long as your new plan is higher than your current one.

If you’ve taken out a device credit agreement, you can upgrade your phone whenever you want from day 15 of a new plan – you just need to pay off the remaining balance of the device.

Find out if you can upgrade by logging onto your account or contacting EE.

Upgrading on Vodafone

With Vodafone, you can upgrade to a new phone anytime after three months if you’re on a SIM-only plan.

If you’re on a Vodafone EVO contract (which is split into two plans: your device plan and an airtime plan), you can upgrade as soon as three months into your plan.

Otherwise, you may be able to upgrade after six months with a Flexi-upgrade, depending on your current plan and when it started. You can find out when you’re eligible to upgrade via your Vodafone account or My Vodafone app.

Upgrading on giffgaff

Since giffgaff provides SIM-only deals on phones that have been bought outright, there isn't really an upgrade scheme - you can buy a new phone and put your SIM in it whenever you want.

The 'contracts' you can get on handsets from giffgaff are in fact loans, which work differently from regular phone contracts. To upgrade a phone you have a giffgaff loan on, contact the network to discuss paying it off.

Finding a better deal

Not sure you want to stick with the same network? Shopping around is a great idea. Take a look at our contract deals, or pick out a new mobile - and check out SIM-only deals. And don't forget to read our phone reviews for the complete lowdown on some of our favourite models.

Also, don't forget that if you've switched to a new phone deal, or even go from contract to a SIM-only deal, you can sell your old handset to a recycler. That will go some way to recouping the cost of any initial outlay you may have to make. Check out our sister website SellMyMobile to find out more:

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