How to buy a phone as a gift


Make the right choice with our smartphone buying guide…
How to buy a phone as a gift

There’s quite a lot to think about if you’re buying a phone for someone, but there’s no need to be daunted. If you take your time, and think about our points below, you’ll be able to choose the perfect smartphone gift.

Forget about the element of surprise

At the risk of spoiling the big surprise, we suggest you talk to the person you’ll be buying the phone for. Otherwise, there could be too much guesswork involved.

For example, do they already have a phone they like? Are they due an upgrade? Are they happy with their network? This is all crucial information, so it might be best to just tell them your gift-buying plan, and get all the facts you need.

Once you’ve done that, you can start thinking about the kind of phone contract to get.

What’s the best type of phone contract?

You’ve basically got three choices when it comes to buying a mobile phone: pay monthly, pay-as-you go or SIM free.

Pay monthly contract
With a pay monthly contract, you choose the phone and network you want.
You don’t have to pay for the phone straight away. The monthly cost gets spread out over the length of the contract (usually 24 months), and includes line rental along with a monthly allowance of minutes, texts and data.

Pay-as-you-go phones
With a pay-as-you go phone, you pay the full cost of the phone upfront, and choose a network. You don’t have to sign a contract for any length of time – the phone owner simply pre-pays for their minutes, texts and data, and can buy more whenever they want to.

SIM free phone
When you buy a SIM free phone, you don’t have to choose a network or commit to a contract. You simply pay the full upfront cost of the phone. It’s then up to the person you’re buying it for to choose a network plan and pay the ongoing costs.

Different networks, different benefits

If you decide to go for a pay monthly or SIM free phone, you'll need to choose a network.

If the person you’re buying a phone for is already on a network they’re happy with, it could be an easy decision. But if this isn’t the case, check out this article:

What are my mobile network benefits?

It compares the major UK networks, and lists the benefits for each one.

Choosing the phone itself...

Like we said at the start of the article, it’s probably worth coming right out with it and asking the person you’re buying the phone for what model they’d like. Then it’s job done.

But if you’d like to make the choice for them, check out this article for guidance:

Tips for choosing your new phone

It explains the differences between the various operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows), and also has advice on the main phone features to consider – from the camera to battery life.

And for some final inspiration, take a look at some of the best smartphones that have come out this year...

Pixel, a phone by Google

Google’s first ever smartphone looks stylish, has a great camera, and comes with Google Assistant – your own personal assistant, always ready to help.

You can buy the Pixel or Pixel XL from Carphone Warehouse.

Sony Xperia XZ

The Sony Xperia XZ has a truly ground-breaking 23MP camera with triple image sensing technology. It also features a sharp 5.2-inch Full HD display, and water-resistant design.

Buy the Sony Xperia XZ from Carphone Warehouse.

HP Elite x3

This is the biggest and most powerful Windows Phone ever. It’ll sync effortlessly with all your other Windows devices, and you can even use it as a laptop or desktop PC.

Buy the HP Elite x3 from Carphone Warehouse.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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