Ask LH: Can I Change My Phone On An Existing Contract?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a Samsung Galaxy 6 edge on a mobile contract that ends in December. I want to exchange my phone for an iPhone 7 now before my contract ends – how much would that cost? Also, can I upgrade to a new plan without having to pay off the remainder of my existing plan? Thanks, Jamie

Dear Jamie,

Without knowing your mobile network provider or the details of your plan, it’s difficult to give detailed advice. Instead, here are some general rules for upgrading handsets and plans that haven’t been fully paid off.

Most Australian telcos manage phone repayments under a separate contract to your plan. This gives customers a modicum of leeway if they decide to upgrade their plan while paying off an existing handset.

It’s usually possible to add another phone to an existing contract by calling up your telco and requesting one. As you’d expect, you will still need to pay off the remainder of the old handset price – either in continuing monthly installments or as a lump sum. When choosing a new phone, you’re limited to models that are available on that plan. (For what it’s worth, the iPhone 7 should be available on the same plan as a Samsung Galaxy 6 edge.)

Changing plans while under contract is possible, although telcos obviously want you to spend more money rather than less. Depending on your plan and carrier, there may be an administration fee for changing to a lower-price plan. Naturally, if you decide to cancel your plan and go somewhere else, you’ll be slugged with an early termination charge on top of the monthly phone repayments.

Some telcos will waive the remaining payments on your existing handset under specific conditions and promotions – such as Telstra’s New Phone Feeling offer – but this is far from the norm. Check the terms and conditions in your contract to see what options are available to you.

To summarise, unless your contract has a specific clause relating to free phone upgrades, you will need to pay off the remainder of the handset price at the very least. Your best bet is to speak to an in-store representative to hash out a deal. If possible, wait until your contract is almost up – this will give you extra bargaining power and make them eager to please.


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