1. Guides
  2. Household Bills
  3. Mobile Phones
  4. How to upgrade your mobile phone

How to upgrade your mobile phone

Fiona Leake
Fiona Leake
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 12th January 2021

Mobile phone upgrades aren’t always straightforward, can you upgrade early? Is it worth upgrading? In this guide, we will explain how to upgrade your mobile phone and whether it’s worth doing.

What is a mobile phone upgrade?

Image

A mobile phone upgrade is when you replace your handset with a new one once your contract expires and you’ve paid off the cost of your current phone.

Essentially, when you upgrade your mobile you’re extending your contract with your current provider, tied in to pay off another smartphone.

Upgrading your mobile gives you the chance to use a newer smartphone without having to pay upfront as you spread the cost throughout your contract.

How do phone upgrades work?

Once you’ve paid off your current phone contract, you will have the option of upgrading and getting a new handset with the same provider. You can pick the handset and the more expensive the phone, the higher your monthly repayments will be.

You can also upgrade your plan alongside your handset and opt for more or less calls, texts and data each month. This is the perfect time to haggle for a better deal and save money on your contract.

Can I upgrade my phone to a different network?

Image

Once your contract has come to an end, you’re free to pick whichever network you like as you’re no longer tied down to your provider. So, you can choose to upgrade and start a new contract with your current provider. Or, you can leave and pick a new phone and contract plan with a different provider entirely. 

Shop around for the best deals before making a decision. If a different network has a better deal, you can tell your provider and they might agree to match the same deal if you upgrade with them.

You don’t have to rush into a decision so take time to think about your options.

What happens to my old phone?

Most network providers will offer a discount if you trade-in your old phone when you upgrade to a new handset with them. So, if you no longer require your old phone, then trading it in can save you some money on your new contract. 

However, some people like to keep their old device for sentimental reasons or to simply have a backup phone they can take on holiday. The choice is yours!

When am I due a phone upgrade?

Image

You can upgrade your phone at the end of your contract. Usually, your provider will send you a reminder that you’re nearing the end of your contract. You can also check on your online account or by getting in touch with your network. 

However, you can also upgrade your phone early if you’re getting tired of your current handset.

Can I upgrade my phone early?

Yes, you can upgrade your mobile phone early. Exactly how early depends on your network provider. Some network providers will allow you to upgrade months before the end of your contract but you’ll need to pay off the rest of the cost of your current handset. If you upgrade really early you might also be charged a fee but this depends on your provider.

If you wish to upgrade your phone three months early, you’ll have to pay off the final three months worth of payments for your current handset until it’s paid in full. Then, the three months will be added onto your new upgraded contract. So, if your new contract was 18 months, it would end up being 21 months long.

How to upgrade my mobile phone 

Upgrading your phone is just as easy as taking out a new phone contract for the first time. You pick your upgraded handset and sign on to another contract. 

However, we will explain the different processes between each network provider below, you might also be worried about losing your memories on your old phone...

How to keep all of your data when you upgrade

Image

When you upgrade phones, you don’t want to lose all of your contacts, images and more. So, how do you make sure that you keep it all? Follow our steps below:

Step 1: Automatic backups

Smartphones are very clever these days and tend to automatically backup a lot of your content.

You can check this on Android by going to settings > system > backup to check it’s switched on and working. 

iPhone data is backed up on the iCloud. To check this, you can go to settings > Apple ID name > iCloud. 

These backup tools save photos, videos, call history and more. 

To learn more about how they work and how to use them, check out Apple’s guide and Google’s guide.

Step 2: Manual backups

Transferring data from your old handset to your new phone is very easy. During the setup for your new iOS or Android device, you’ll sign-in with your Google account or Apple ID. Then you'll receive a message asking if you want to restore data from backup. Most of your content will then appear on your new phone.

You then need to go through individual apps on your old phone to make sure that everything you want on your new handset is backed up. This could be high scores on games or music.

If you’re switching between iOS and Android, this can be a bit trickier. Android backups won’t work on iOS and vice versa. 

Thankfully, Apple and Android want to tempt you over to their platforms and so are trying to make this process easier. Apple has a guide on switching and so does Android.

Step 3: Move your subscription accounts

Now that your data is all safe and sound on your new phone, it’s time to think about your subscriptions. A lot of paid subscriptions and apps won’t allow you to sign into multiple devices. So, you’ll have to log out of any subscriptions on your old phone before you can use them on your new one. 

Upgrading on O2

If you have an O2 Refresh contract, upgrading is easy. Refresh contracts work by splitting your monthly bill into two parts: 

  1. 'Device Plan' (handset cost).
  2. 'Airtime Plan' (monthly allowance of calls, texts and data).

Once the cost of your handset is paid off, your Device Plan is removed and your monthly bill will practically half. 

You can then upgrade to a new phone whenever you want. With O2 Refresh contracts you also have the option to upgrade early, you will just need to pay off your Device Plan first.

If you aren’t on O2 Refresh, you can still upgrade early but you might need to pay a fee. Log into your O2 account for more information.

Upgrading on Three

Three often has exclusive deals available for existing customers who are upgrading. These deals are usually on offer 30 days before the end of your contract. You can still upgrade early on Three if you wish but you will have to pay a fee.

Find out more about your options by logging into Three.

Upgrading on EE

EE allows you to upgrade once you have 45 days left in your contract. You can upgrade early once you’re six months into your contract but you will have to pay a fee to do so. Special upgrade deals are also available for existing customers.

The EE Recycle and Reward scheme gives you cash for your old handset.

Find out if you’re due an upgrade by logging into your EE account.

Upgrading on Vodafone

Vodafone allows you to upgrade your handset 30 days before your contract is about to end. You can upgrade early but you’ll have to pay off the remaining cost of your entire contract. 

You can upgrade by logging into the Vodafone website.

Upgrading on Virgin Mobile

You can upgrade on Virgin Mobile a month before the end of your contract. If you want to upgrade early you’ll need to see if you’re eligible. You’ll have to pay off the remaining cost of your handset too. 

Virgin also offers Freestyle Contracts where you have the option to upgrade whenever you want for a fee.

The Virgin Media Recycle service also gives you cash for trading in your old handset.

You can upgrade by logging into your Virgin Mobile account.

How to upgrade to a better phone deal: Golden Rules

When you want to upgrade your phone, don’t just stick with your current network without searching around for the best deal. If your contract has come to an end, you’re under no obligation to stick with your current provider.

So, follow these golden rules and upgrade to a better phone and a better deal!

Rule #1: Know your usage

Image

If you always found that you used less or more calls, texts and data than your monthly allowance on your previous contract, alter your search. You want to get a deal that offers a smaller, cheaper allowance if you weren’t using it all each month. 

Vice versa if you’re using more than your allowance, you’ll need a deal that offers more. The charges for using calls, texts and data outside of your allowance are very expensive. 

Narrow down your upgrade search by working out exactly what allowance you need each month. 

Rule #2: Do your research

Image

Once you’ve decided what phone you want to upgrade to and what allowance you need, use comparison websites to see what the cheapest deal on offer is.

This way, you can tell your current provider that you’ve found cheaper elsewhere, they might agree to match it. 

Rule #3: Haggle with your current provider

Image

We have some great in-depth advice on mobile phone haggling in this guide. The best time to get a cheap upgrade deal is to threaten to leave your current provider once your contract has ended. The power is in your hands and they’ll want to keep you as a customer!

You can phone up and say you want to leave as you’ve found a cheaper deal and you’re currently paying too much. You’ll be put through to the disconnections department who specialise in customer retention.

You can share the better deals you’ve found and ask for more. Use these following phrases and you should end up with a great deal:

  • “I'm not sure I'm getting the best deal.” 
  • “I'm thinking of cancelling.”
  • “I’ve found a much better deal with a better phone.”
  • “Is that the best that you can give me? I wanted more.”
  • “My maximum budget is XX a month.”
  • “I need to think about it.”

Why you should consider NOT upgrading your phone

Image

If you’re happy with your current phone, upgrading for the sake of it isn’t a good idea. Switching to a SIM-only deal is much cheaper than contract phone deals. It’s an unnecessary expense if you don’t need a new phone. Whilst getting the latest smartphone with the best features is very tempting, it also ties you into yet another expensive contract.

Here’s why you shouldn’t upgrade your phone:

1. Your current phone is perfectly fine

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your phone carry out usual tasks without slowing or freezing?
  • Are the screen and hardware undamaged?
  • Are you happy with the camera quality of your phone?
  • Can your phone support its latest operating system?
  • Can you use your phone without always having to charge it?

If you answered yes to all of the above, you don’t need a new phone.

2. New phones are very expensive

If you want the latest smartphone, expect to pay over £1,000 for it. Yes, phone contracts do spread the cost but you’re still paying an extortionate amount for a new phone. Plus, phones change every year, with each one having more features than the last.

Don’t buy into the hype and think about how expensive getting a new phone will be!

3. You’re free!

You’re currently in a very strong position. Your current smartphone is completely paid off and you own it. Your monthly bills will be so much cheaper without the added cost of a device repayment on top. 

You’re free to pick from a variety of SIM-only deals that are so much cheaper than contract phone tariffs. SIM-only also offers much more flexibility and doesn’t tie you into contracts that last years.

Now that you own your phone, you’re free to get it unlocked which means that you can pick any provider you want. The best deals are at your fingertips!

When you SHOULD upgrade your phone

Image

There are some reasons why you should upgrade your phone. 

If you’re unsure, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your phone slow or freezes?
  • Is your phone damaged?
  • Do you want a better camera quality?
  • Are there features on newer phones that you want/need?
  • Does your phone not support current software updates?
  • Does your phone run out of charge constantly? 
  • Do you just want a new phone? 

If you answered yes to some of the questions above, you might want to look at upgrading your phone.

FAQs

What do you think of this?
We use cookies (e.g. personalisation, analytics, social media). Find out more.