Virgin Media O2 will soon let you change phones at any time

mobile phone
(Image credit: Shutterstock / ImYanis)

O2’s new ‘Switch Up’ proposition will let customers swap their mobile phone for a brand new one at any time, without the need to pay off the remainder of their existing contract.

Switch Up is included in all of the operator’s ‘Plus’ plans at no extra cost and can be added to any Custom Plan – which lets customers decide how much they want to pay up front for a new device and how long they want their contract to be – as a Bolt On for £3.99 a month.

To take advantage, customers trade-in their old device and select a new tariff. All devices submitted will then be refurbished and resold.

Virgin Media O2 small cells

Mobile contracts across the industry have become more flexible over the past few decades in order to meet these changing expectations and to adapt to changing trends such as smartphone market saturation and the increasing cost of flagship devices.

Several operators already offer early upgrade tariffs, including O2. The operator says Switch Up builds on its previous O2 Refresh offer, which lets subscribers upgrade by splitting the airtime and handset components of their tariff, and is designed to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

“It’s one of the biggest innovations I can remember in the 20 years I’ve been in the mobile industry,” Virgin Media O2 chief operating officer Gareth Turpin told TechRadar Pro. “Customers are keeping their devices for longer but others want that flexibility.

“The world moves quicker than ever in terms of innovation and development, and [customers] don’t want to be tied up [to an older device]. It’s about meeting those changing expectations.”

“This really is the next evolution of [Refresh and Custom plans] … We already have industry-leading churn, this is giving people more flexibility. We want customers to stay longer and be part of the wider Virgin Media O2 family.

“This is game changing in terms of what it does to the handset market and fits every much with where we’re trying to take Virgin Media O2.”

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, Turpin said flexibility was one of two key things that customers wanted. The other was inclusive EU roaming. Virgin Media O2 is the only major operator not to have introduced charges since Brexit.

“Customers talk about [EU roaming] a lot,” said Turpin. “We want to offer something to customers that makes a real difference.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.