Saturday, 24 December 2011

Phone Contract Renewal - Review Time!

My mobile telephone contract is up for renewal very soon and in fact I can renew it ahead of time should I wish to do so. I'm currently with Vodafone and I got a telephone call the other day asking me if I wanted to take advantage of their latest sooper dooper offer and renew my contract with them for the next 18 months or whatever it was. I hate this sort of telephone call and I will never do business in this way so I refused to take out a new contract, the offer they made would have cost me £25 per month without adding on any additional services.

When I was in town yesterday completing my Christmas shopping I decided to do a little investigating, I wanted to know what it would cost me to convert to an iPhone 4s and to compare this with the other option which is open to me which is to keep my existing BlackBerry and start a 12 month SIM only contract for voice and data.

I'm now pretty much certain that I will be sticking with my BlackBerry for 12 months as the SIM only contract including plenty of call minutes, texts and a perfectly adequate data package will bring my monthly cost down to just over £15 which when taken over a 12 month period constitutes a saving of hundreds of pounds which is always welcome. There was also the issue of moving data from the BlackBerry to an iPhone which may well have proved to be less than smooth and would not transfer everything I currently store. The BlackBerry works brilliantly with Gmail etc. and I am loathed to disrupt this arrangement!

Looking into a few other things in detail in respect of the iPhone 4s it came to light that given that the bulk of my phone/data usage concerns e-mail the BlackBerry actually provides what I believe to be a service which is superior to that offered by the iPhone when used in conjunction with a webmail service. Currently if someone sends me an e-mail it appears immediately on my BlackBerry without any intervention from myself, I had not realised that the iPhone 4s can be set to retrieve mail no more frequently than every 15 min which for me at least would be a retrograde step.

The option does exist to poll for mail manually but I think I would soon get irritated by this. It would have been fine if I had never used the BlackBerry service but now that I am accustomed to e-mail just arriving without any intervention from me I did not want to start messing about checking for e-mail as a manual activity. The BlackBerry is essentially a "push" (BlackBerry servers to me) service but the iPhone a "pull" service with me having to set polling periods or manually initiate the pulling. The other thing is that each time an iPhone polls for mail (which may be every 15 minutes) there will be a data cost to this, though presumably only a small one.

The other thing that came to light during the course of my investigations was that the BlackBerry, apparently because of the way it handles data in a compressed form, apparently is far less an intensive user of data which makes it a more cost-effective option than the iPhone 4s I believe in terms of the data contract. This I think is particularly important if the unit is going to be used abroad, which mine is. Using the BlackBerry system my data use is very low, the guy I was talking to was in a good position to judge this as he was using both a BlackBerry and an iPhone 4s for a trial period and the iPhone 4s was much more data intensive in his experience.

It seems to me that there are plenty of people around paying possibly £35-£40 per month to have the latest and greatest smartphones, it's worth bearing in mind that a £15 a month SIM only option could potentially deliver a saving of £240 a year which particularly in the current economic climate is hardly to be sneezed at. I've made my decision purely based on cost and having looked at the major functions that I use the telephone for which are calling and texts, e-mail and social networking. I do of course make use of things such as live GPS tracking that these are not the prime functions.

Decision made, sticking with BlackBerry, £15 a month and review the market after 12 months. Given that Lorena and I both have phones that's going to save us around £350 over the 12 months.


  1. Two helpful observations from a friend of mine Paul Reed:

    "The iPhone 4s (in fact iPhones back 2 generations) has instant push email exactly the same as Blackberry. Whoever said otherwise wasn't very clued up!"

    "I can testify about data use though. I use upwards of 500mb a month, most of that being Facebook. Last time I went to Ireland the phone dropped out of wifi without me realising and I was landed with a £95 bill. Nothing more than text loading on Facebook."

  2. The network 3 do a really good deal at the moment. The one plan, 2000 minutes, 5000 texts and more importantly unlimited data, which few networks do at the mo (most have a 500mb limit)
    also you can teather with 3 network as part of the unlimited data deal