Do you buy a new phone subsidized or pay for it up front?

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by Bishope1999, Aug 29, 2013.


Do you buy a new phone subsidized or pay for it up front?

  1. Pay for it up front.

    39 vote(s)
  2. Subsidize it.

    19 vote(s)
  1. Bishope1999 macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2010
    When I was upgrading from my first low end Android phone earlier this year, I saw the limitations it had. After understanding what the high end smart phones can do, I decided that I needed to upgrade. Months of researching different smart phones, I decided the Galaxy S4 was the phone for me.

    I saw the option of subsidizing the phone, pay a low amount up front and then finish paying it off in the next 2 years, but I didn't find it appealing at all. I ended up paying $620 for it, got it unlocked, and it feels like I truly own the phone. It's just a piece of electronic device like Blu-ray movies and players, HDTV, computers, etc. But when most people ask me how much did I pay and I tell them, they ask me,"you paid full price?!" :eek:.. I say yea lol.

    But it seems that most people subsidize their phones. I personally don't get the appeal for it. If in a year or 2 I want a new phone, I just rather buy it. But I wanted to get get the feedback from the phone specialists on these forums lol.

    Just if you pay for your phone cash or subsidize it and why do you think it's a better option.
  2. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    Subsidized - its the only cost I have my company pays the monthly costs. So for me its a duh!
  3. MyiBill macrumors 6502

    Feb 8, 2012
    Depends you still pay for it ever month regardless if you pay for it upfront or not.
  4. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    I certainly wouldn't say subsidizing is a "better" option, it is a good option FOR ME because I don't mind paying off the phone over two years, and I feel no desperate need to get a new phone every year. Every two iterations is fine with me. I'll skip the 5S, and probably buy the next model.

    For those who wish to upgrade every time a new phone comes out (generally annually), then a subsidized phone doesn't make much sense.

    For me, it all depends on your wants...
  5. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    Nor Cal, USA
    If you have AT&T or Verizon, you are paying extra for the subsidy anyway.

    In my case I use my subsidy as soon as its available and resell the top phone as NIB. Then I buy the phone I want on Craigslist. My s4 was only $465 this way. I come out ahead and get the phone I want.
  6. Bishope1999 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2010
    Well yes, I pay my monthly phone service, but that is completely independent from my phone. I bought the Galaxy S4 from another carrier, unlocked it, and took it to my cell phone provider. Monthly payments never increased. Only thing I had to do was pay for the sim card and activation, $25.
  7. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Paid 750 baht ($US 25.00) up front for a not very clever phone..... and prepay 1,000 baht for service; that does me for the best part of a year or more. It stays at home (where I don't have a landline available) most of the time. I like to be off-line and unavailable once I leave my desk..... my computer connection is mobile broadband too.
  8. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    It doesn't work that way for the two big carriers in the US. Their prices are the same if you subsidize the phone through them, or if you bring your own device. It's frustrating because I know it's a better deal to pay up front and have cheaper service, but where I live the cheaper service isn't reliable enough.
  9. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    I'll use a subsidy if it's available because as has been mentioned, here in the US at the major carriers, monthly fees are the same regardless. Also, my wife's employer pays for our cell bill so I have no intention of changing carriers and thus, don't see benefit in month-to-month contracts.

    That being said, I change phones more frequently than every two years (or annually for that matter ;)) so I also pay full retail for some devices. I generally hate carrier branded devices due to the update delays and huge amounts of bloatware. Unfortunately, the only subsidized devices that don't have this problem are iPhones so going forward, I'm probably going to save the subsidies for iPhones and just sell them as they typically fetch close to unlocked prices and buy Android devices as Developer Editions, GPE, or Nexus unlocked and free of bloat.
  10. MyiBill macrumors 6502

    Feb 8, 2012
    Unless your on tmobile your monthly payments are the same regardless of whether or not you buy your phone outright or take the subsidy. If your on tmobile that buying the phone outright is fine but on any other carrier you mind as well take the subsidy if you plan to stay with them for 2 years. The $199 upfront cost and the $350 early termination fee is still cheaper than buying the phone outright.
  11. Bishope1999 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2010
    Actually I'm on MetroPCS. $50 a month, 2.5 GB free text, calls and 4g LTE service is great down here in Miami, I average about 15 mbps download speeds. Plus, MetroPCS GSM phones now run T-mobile towers...So I was looking at switching to T-mobile to buy the black version, subsidize it and use there service. But after looking at things, I just saw that it was best for me to buy the phone cash and take it to my carrier.

    I can understand that on another carrier the Galaxy S4 would have been $200 down and $350 early termination fee if I end it right away. That would already put the phone at $550, plus any taxes. My phone with out taxes would have come out to $580.

    Also, if you terminate it early, wouldn't they want you to pay full price for the phone or will they include that in the $350 fee? Plus aren't you paying about $20 a month for the phone for 2 years? Sorry, just not familiar with all the carriers options.
  12. aziatiklover macrumors 68030


    Jul 12, 2011
    Location: and
    I pay up front every year because I needed it to be unlocked for my travels.
  13. gotluck macrumors 603


    Dec 8, 2011
    East Central Florida
    I buy unlocked and use straight talk / att gophone
  14. Hastings101 macrumors 68020


    Jun 22, 2010
    Subsidized unless I just can't stand a phone, then I pay off contract.

    About $50 monthly on AT&T for "unlimited" data and text, no clue how many minutes but I've never managed to use them all. I'm probably one of the few that has really good experiences with AT&T's customer service and gets great reception too.
  15. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    My 4S, bought on launch day, is my first subsidised phone. It was a good deal at the time, but now I'm just paying a lot more per month than I have to; as soon as my two years are up I'll be switching to a different provider.

    Next time, I'll buy outright so that I can switch around on demand :)
  16. Jibbajabba, Aug 29, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013

    Jibbajabba macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    The S4 is free here with a contract and you can unlock the phone after three months into the contract. No need to spend that sort of money. I used to. I remember payingng almost $1k for the iPhone 3G as I had to import it from Germany to the UK - back in the day when O2 had exclusivity on the iPhone (which is illegal in Germany, hence the import).

    Looking back and seeing how much I spend / spent on phones, I really need start using them for two years.

    I used to have to have always the newest iPhone but thankfully I got bored of it as it isn't changing anyway. With android phones I don't mind sticking around as the software options turns your phone into a new beast if you want it to ... Not Boring at all so may as well stick with it for two years and get a free phone and sell it at a profit :)
  17. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Both. I usually get one phone on contract each year as I get an upgrade each year with my carrier, and I usually buy another phone (or two or three) unsubsidised - just using the cash I make from the sale of each device to fund or part fund the next.

    Sadly I can't vote both
  18. adder7712 macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2009
    Most phone purchases here are full up front payments.
  19. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    I have a really good discount with att, so I will stay on my post-paid plan until I either lose that discount or the price somehow rises. I always buy a subsidized iphone on launch day and then sell it for about $20 cheaper than the full retail price. Easiest $400 :)
  20. JaySoul macrumors 68030


    Jan 30, 2008
    Used to sub it but now pay upfront.

    It's a bit riskier but quite a bit cheaper, I've found - both overall hardware cost and SIM-only cost.

    Plus you're not tied in. I tend to wait 2 months until after a phone is launch, then buy it second hand of eBay.

    Wouldn't go back to monthly contracts now ever, if I can help it.
  21. Alfuh macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2009
    Pay upfront and use Straight Talk

    My wife and I were on AT&T to the tune of $180 per month and now we use the same coverage and speeds for $98 per month ... just lost visual voicemail which wasn't worth $80 per month

    So $80*24 (contract length) = $1920 savings ... plenty to buy full price phones every two years if we please, considering selling back older units we could upgrade in less than 1 year intervals and still come out ahead
  22. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    At the moment I see no advantage to buying a phone outright. I pay the same whether I buy a phone for 600 dollars or 200 dollars.
  23. DGPMaluco macrumors regular

    Nov 16, 2012
    Depends on the country really... Here in Portugal it's better to buy it up front and then get pre paid plan... Almost everyone outside the business world does this and pays 7,50€ to 15€ a month for the pre paid plan
  24. egoistaxx9 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2013
    i dont wanna get stuck with one carrier. and in the long run they take more than the actual cost, so why buy a subsidized phone when you can pay for the phone upfront.
  25. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Agreed. For me, there is no advantage to buying an unsubsidized phone.

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