There's no other way to say it - it's really expensive to buy new phones these days. Whether you want to buy a new phone outright or get one on a contract, you're going to pay through the nose.
In our roundup of the best iPhone 8 deals, for example, the average cost of the best deal on each of the four major networks works out at £1,268 over a two year plan. That's a heck of a lot of money for the average person.
It's even more frustrating for those people who like to get a new phone every year - 24 month contracts are so inconvenient!
So what's the most economical way to buy a new iPhone 8 if you want to pay as little as possible while not locking yourself into an expensive two year contract? There are actually a bunch of good options which we'll detail for you on this page. What's more, TechRadar has teamed up with Direct Mobiles to offer TR readers an exclusive saving on the iPhone 8.
Option 1: TechRadar's exclusive deal - save £39!
Step 1: Get a 12-month deal and sell your phone next September
This is actually a highly attractive option once you look into it. It requires a little bit of work on your part to make it work, but if you're a frugal sort this is well worth considering. The idea here is that you commit yourself only to 12 months of payments at which point your phone still has some value. You trade it in or sell it and use the money to get the new phone next year. At the moment, you can trade in a year-old iPhone 7 for about £330 which is pretty good. Luckily, TechRadar readers can currently get a £39 discount on the upfront cost of the iPhone 8 with a 12 month plan on EE...
EXCLUSIVE: iPhone 8 64GB | £659.95 upfront (save £39) | 18GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £21 per month for 12 months (Total cost £911.95)
With this deal you get the phone for £659.95 instead of £699 which is a saving of £39.05 compared to what you'd pay for the phone outright at Apple.com or Carphone Warehouse. You then pay £21 per month for a year for an 18GB plan on EE which also bags you unlimited calls and texts. Including the upfront cost, this leaves you paying £911.95 over the whole year. See this deal at Direct Mobiles
Step 2: Walk away from your plan and sell your iPhone 8 online
At this point you've paid a little over the odds for your year with the iPhone 8, so step 2 is important! Your next task is to sell your iPhone 8 online - don't worry, it's really easy! Be sure to use at least a screen protector and if possibly a protective case so that after the year your phone is in good condition. You can now go to sites such as Music Magpie or Envirofone and sell your iPhone 8 hassle-free. Currently you could sell a year-old iPhone 7 for about £335. So given the increased cost of the iPhone 8 this year, a modest estimated value for the iPhone 8 in 12 months is a minimum of £350.
Take that away from your £911.95 and what have you paid for your year with EE and iPhone 8? The answer is £561.95. Times that by two and you'll find see that the two year total of £1,123.90 is equivalent to most of the standard two year plans out there - but they don't get you a new phone each year!
Step 3: Repeat the process!
The final step, of course, is to repeat steps 1 and 2! Buy an iPhone 9 and sign up for either a 12 month contract or a SIM only deal.
To see if all that was worthwhile, let's look at the numbers. Assuming your year with the iPhone 8 is roughly the same as what you'll pay for a year with the iPhone 9, your 24 months has now cost you £1,123.99. If you compare all of the best iPhone 8 deals out there right now, you'll struggle to find many deals that cost less than that. In fact the best 'big data' iPhone 8 deal on EE right now is probably this one at Mobiles.co.uk which gives you 25GB data for a total cost of £1241.76 over two years.
So your alternative deal costs you £118 LESS than that AND you get an upgrade to the iPhone 9 after 12 months. And at the end of two years, you simply rinse and repeat.
Caveats and other things to consider
There are a few things to consider before signing up for a plan like this. Firstly, remember if you stick with your iPhone 9 at the end of the two years instead of repeating the plan, you'll have ended up paying a bit more - probably more like £1,550 because you won't have had the 'rebate' of selling your phone. That's still competitive in the grand scheme of things (and it's still a good way to get a new phone if you're less bothered about the bottom line), but might make this plan more hassle than it's worth. So in a way you're only saving money with this method for as long as you're willing to keep up with it - if you ever duck out you'll end up saving no money.
What about the Apple Upgrade Programme?
This is very similar to the way the official Apple Upgrade Programme works. Apple's scheme will charge you £69 for the iPhone 8 and then you'll be committed to paying £37.95 per month for 20 months. The benefit of this is that you get AppleCare+ coverage and after 11 months you become eligible for an upgrade to the next iPhone. So this is another way to get an iPhone upgrade every year, but it'll only save you money for as long as you stay in the scheme - as soon as you stick with your current phone and pay the monthly fee for the remainder of your 20 month commitment, you will have negated the savings - and you still have to pay for a SIM only deal to get data, calls and texts. There's also no guarantee how much the upfront fee will be on your next upgrade or what the monthly installments will be.
Option 2: Buy at retail and pair with SIM only
The other obvious way to do this is by simply buying the iPhone 8 outright, and sorting a SIM only deal separately. This way you won't even need to worry about how long your contract is, since you can simply swap your SIM in and out of whichever phone you're using. That being said, SIM only deals tend to only come in 12 month and 1 month flavours anyway.