Do you recall the frustration and anger of many iPhone users last year when they were unable to get O2 to upgrade their in-contract phones to the newer 3G model without having to take out a new contract?
At the time there were a lot of comments blaming O2’s exclusive hold on Apple’s must-have handset for their unwillingness – as unhappy users saw it – to let customers upgrade to the latest model.
Since then O2 have had to share the market with Vodafone and Orange and it’s worth asking whether that competition might herald a more flexible approach to upgrades in the interests of customer retention.
It’s true that competition between the iPhone-selling networks hasn’t been as fierce as many hoped – there was obvious dismay on the part of many at the similarity of some iPhone tariffs – but the recently announced data plans for the iPad are markedly different which could be a sign of greater divergence between the networks.
So, with the prospect of customers walking to a competitor, admittedly at great cost, is there any prospect of iPhone users finding it easier to upgrade their handset mid-contract?
My hunch is not, many handsets are available on several networks without users being any to discard their contractual obligations and demand a newer model whenever they’re released.
It’s also questionable whether it’s worth tying yourself in to a new contract just to get the latest phone, assuming Apple keep the release schedule reasonably similar in future years anyone signing a two year contact is always going to find themselves some months away from contract renewal when a new model comes out.
If your budget allows, the current mid-contract upgrade option of buying a Pay As You Go handset and sticking the contract sim in it is probably the best way to get the latest model.
Not only do you get Apple’s shiniest, newest phone but you’ll also be spared signing a new contract to get it and will have something to sell or pass on the following year when the next ‘must have’ model hits stores.