Ask LH: Is My Android Tablet Contract Now Entirely Worthless?

Hey Lifehacker, Back in October last year I picked up the Samsung Galaxy Tab for $0 upfront on the $59 Optus cap, because at the time the Tab was $999 outright, so $1,100 over 24months for the Tab plus 10GB of data a month was a pretty good deal. Then in January I found out I was moving to America in July for 12 months, so my plan was to sell my Galaxy Tab for around the $700 mark and pay out the rest of my contract.

But I didn’t act fast enough and as you know, the Galaxy Tab had a ridiculous price drop to $209 outright for a brand new one. So now I’m stuck with this contract and a Galaxy Tab I couldn’t sell for more than $100.

Do I have any options due to the ridiculous price drop of the Galaxy Tab, or because of my unforeseen move? Thanks, Locked In

Dear Locked In,

Yours is a particularly extreme example of the problem with buying a device on a contract: you can’t always predict what’s going to happen in the future. The price plummet on the Galaxy Tab is the most extreme example we’ve seen in many a year. At the other end of the spectrum, more recent iPhone models seem to retain their value particularly well for second-hand sale. But whatever device you sign up for, if you buy a phone or a tablet on a contract, you need to accept that you will be paying the price suggested on that contract no matter what changes happen to your circumstances.

The two obvious options you have are:

  • Contacting Optus and seeing if you can come to an arrangement. I can’t imagine that you’ll get out of the contract, but you might be able to persuade them to ‘freeze’ it for 12 months from July, and then resume it when you return. You might not want to use the Tab at that point, but the SIM could still be useful.
  • Giving your tab to a friend or relative. If you have to pay for the access anyway, someone might as well get the benefit. Equipping your grandparents with a way of staying in touch while you’re overseas could be a nice gesture.

No, those aren’t particularly great options. However, that’s the reality of buying on a contract: the price you pay for getting a subsidised gadget is that you are tied to that deal for an extended period of time.

If anyone’s got a success story with getting out of a contract to share, I bet Locked In would love to hear it in the comments.


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