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How to Safely Buy a New Phone During the Lockdown

Lockdown rules in Wales have made some significant changes to the way that we shop.

Essential shops like supermarkets are still open to the public, although most of them are operating on reduced opening hours. Stores have certain times allocated for NHS workers or the most vulnerable in society to go inside for their groceries, in order to try and best protect those people who are the most at risk. Online shopping is also business as normal for most brands, although it’s a bit harder than usual to find a delivery slot at Tesco and some smaller online businesses are understandably taking a bit longer than usual to deliver items.

Shopping differences haven’t been all that difficult to adjust to, although it’s a good idea to add an extra half an hour onto your trip to ASDA for standing in the queue, and if you wanted to make a large purchase like a house or a car, it probably needs to be postponed for now. Clothes shopping is a thing of the past for the time being and most of us are at home in our comfies anyway, so buying a new outfit is something to look forward to when things go back to normal.

But what about getting a new phone? If your smartphone’s been dropped in the bath or you are simply looking to upgrade because you’re sick of your current handset running slowly, then you might be wondering how you can safely buy a new smartphone on lockdown.

Check Out YouTube Unboxing Videos to Get Ideas

If you usually like to go and see the display models and try them out before you decide what smartphone handset to buy, then you’re going to have to skip this step during the lockdown, with phone stores closed down until further notice. Thankfully, we have YouTube, the next best thing.

Find some unboxing videos for the smartphone handsets that you are interested in getting so that you can see how the phone works, learn more about the features and get an idea for how big it’s going to be in your hand before you decide if it’s the one for you. While you’re online, it’s also worth taking a look at some review sites where you can compare the different handsets that you’ve got your eye on and see what other users have said about them too.

Decide if You Want a Contract vs SIM-Free

You can purchase both mobile phone contracts and SIM-free phone handsets online easily during the lockdown. If you want to get a contract, you will need to fill in all the information online, and then you’ll be informed whether or not you have passed the credit check. You might be used to getting your phone straight away in the shop when you get a new contract, but during the lockdown, keep in mind that you’ll need to wait for delivery. You might be able to get next day delivery but allow a couple of days since Royal Mail and other delivery services might be affected.

On the other hand, buying a SIM-Free phone online is just as simple as buying anything else online. Just pick the phone that you want from the retailer of your choice, pay online, and wait for it to be delivered. Don’t forget to order a SIM card too if you need one; you can choose from a range of fantastic SIM only plans from Lebara, starting from just £5 for 1,000 minutes and texts and 2GB of data for the month. You’re not tied in, so you can take a look at the range of Lebara SIM only plans on offer and choose one that you think will be suitable, but you’re always free to change it to a different one next month. Simply choose the best option for you from the SIM only plans on their website, sign up and wait for your SIM to arrive so you can put it in your phone and start using it straight away.

What About Buying Second-Hand?

You might have considered buying a second-hand phone while on lockdown if you need a new handset and want to save money. Selling sites like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree are still in operation, but if you’re going to buy a product from somebody in-person, bear in mind that you will need to stick to social distancing rules, like staying two metres apart, so you’ll probably need to negotiate with the seller regarding how you’re going to pick up the phone before you go.

You might also want to consider paying for a phone via bank transfer or PayPal, rather than handing over cash to the seller since the virus can be passed on through banknotes. Alternatively, you can purchase a second-hand phone handset on eBay, where sellers usually post the items to you after you have made the payment.

Bear in mind, however, that when you buy second-hand there’s no guarantee the phone is going to be as described and since checking it out before you buy it would mean breaking lockdown rules, you are running a bigger risk than usual of ending up with a phone that you didn’t realise was damaged or no longer working. Phones can also carry the virus so disinfect it and wash your hands too.

Tips for Saving Money on Your New Handset

Most of us have been financially affected by the lockdown in some way. People who can work from home and keyworkers who are required to work as normal may not need to worry so much about money but if you’ve been furloughed and are living on 80% of what you normally earn in a month, or have been unable to keep your job due to lockdown, you might be looking for some ways to save as much as you can when buying your new phone.

Look out for new customer deals if you are going to sign up to a smartphone contract. There are plenty of options to choose from with networks running different offers on a regular basis that you can take advantage of to cut down smartphone costs. If you’re already in a contract and plan to upgrade, get in touch with your network to see if there are any cheaper options than the ones you can see online, or if there are any existing customer deals you can take advantage of.

For those who want to purchase a SIM-free handset, refurbished phones are the way forward. Not only will you save a lot of money compared to buying the phone outright, but it’ll also be in good working condition and will come with a warranty for your peace of mind. Buy your refurbished handset from the manufacturer or a reputable retailer, so that you can be sure it’s been repaired and tested to an expert standard.

Finally, consider getting an older handset. You can find refurbished iPhone 7 handsets for under £200, for example, so this is a really cheap option to go for if you just need a phone and aren’t too fussed about having all the latest features.

Buying a new phone during the lockdown might mean that you can’t go into the store and test out handsets first, but there are plenty of ways to get around it and make sure that you get the best handset for you at the best price.

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