How to Upgrade Your Smartphone Without Spending Your Life Savings

If you’ve looked at the price of next-generation smartphones lately, you may have experienced some sticker shock. The cost of new smartphones has become astronomical in a few short years. In fact, you’re likely to spend over $1,000 for an iPhone 14 from your carrier and even more for Pro versions. Even last-gen phones can come close to those prices.

When you’ve got a cracked screen or your phone is running too slow to use anymore, there are still ways to save and upgrade your phone at the same time. Check out these money-saving tips to keep your costs down and still replace your old or broken phone.

1. Don’t Go to Your Carrier

Buying your phone from your carrier is often the easiest way to do it, but it may also be the most expensive option. Carriers usually offer options for financing new phones, so you don’t have to pay as much upfront, but it’s worth crunching the numbers on these contracts.

Would it be cheaper to buy the phone outright if you could get a more affordable plan? Do the extra costs on your monthly bill come to an end when your phone is paid off?

You may be better off looking for phones for sale on online marketplaces. Buying them outright could be a better way to save money, as long as you find a retailer who can offer a steeper discount than your carrier.

2. Buy an Unlocked Phone

Another advantage to buying your phone off-carrier is that you should have the option of buying an unlocked phone.

When you buy directly from your carrier, you usually get a locked phone. Even most big box electronics retailers sell phones locked into a carrier.

A locked phone can only be used with the original carrier, so you’re stuck using whatever plans they have available. As new rules come into effect that could make regional and discount phone carriers more common, with future phone plans offering better deals, it might be worthwhile keeping your options open.

An unlocked phone gives you options both now and down the line if you ever feel the need to cancel your phone plan and find a new one.

3. Check the Condition of Used Phones

A used phone can be an incredible way to save big when you upgrade. Make sure you have a chance to inspect a used phone’s condition before you buy it.

There are a few key conditions to inspect before you commit to buying a used phone. First, you should check out how much longer it’s going to receive security patches from the manufacturer. Given how much of our personal and financial data we put on phones, it’s important that your phone isn’t vulnerable to malware. Security patches make sure a phone is protected from the latest viruses and security concerns. However, manufacturers only send support to old models for so long. Find out how long the model you want is meant to get updates before buying it.

Beyond security patches, be sure to check the screen for scratches, dents along the edges, and the battery power.

You don’t have to pay top dollar when you upgrade your smartphone. Find alternatives to your carrier, buy an unlocked phone to get the best plan, or buy used one, as long as you check the condition.

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