I tried O2 Switch Up for limitless handset swaps – and here’s what happened

If, like me, you love unboxing the latest phones but have pretty ambivalent feelings about having to pay off your whole contract each time, it really is the perfect plan

Given all the exciting flagship phones dropping right now, I’ve been suffering some severe handset envy. After all, everyone’s playing with next-gen folding screens and Dynamic Islands and I’ve been stuck with this phone from two years ago. Fortunately, no longer: thanks to O2’s new Switch Up service, I’ve been given a chance to break the cycle and change up my phone any time I like – and without additional fees.

Now, call me cynical, but usually I expect offers that sound too good to be true to be… not so great. But the Switch Up service does offer just that. When you pick up a new contract, you just need to select a Plus plan or add the O2 Switch Up Bolt On to your custom plan for £3.99 a month and you can then change your handset whenever you like (if you’re on an older contract, you’ll just need to pay that off first). After handing over my loyal old handset at my local O2 store, they gave it a once-over to ensure it was in good enough condition and then handed me a brand new flagship phone without me paying anything extra for it.

Everyone loves unboxing a new phone. Slipping off the wrapping, taking the handset out of its cradle, resisting peeling off the film for several hours longer than is necessary just to prolong the anticipation. But these pale in comparison to doing so on a state-of-the-art phone you’ve been given without having to pay off your old one first: it feels like you’ve been given the admin password for capitalism and all the cutting-edge consumer tech you could ever want is now at your fingertips.

Once I’d plugged my phone in and it had sprung to life, I was finally able to put it to the test. Even though I was upgrading just a single generation, the difference was notable right away. The screen was blazingly bright compared to my old model and finally had an always-on display – it’s nice no longer being greeted by that black mirror when I gaze at my phone. Memory-hogging apps that ran ever-so sluggish on my 2021 model were noticeably a lot more sprightly. And firing up the camera app, the difference in its larger sensor was palpable – offering crisp details and unerringly precise colours, the snaps I took put some of my old shots to shame.

So the upgrade really showed me what I’d been missing. But the most thrilling part of that is knowing I won’t ever have to miss out again because I’m no longer shackled to a single handset just because I’m on a contract. I don’t have to wait two years to check out the hottest phone on the market – I can just drop into the O2 store and pick out a new phone and contract that matches my needs or budget. That’s a pretty exciting prospect and really changes the way I feel about owning a phone.

And that does open up some pretty exciting avenues. Now I’m no longer tied down for years at a time, I’m free to try out some different brands – if I don’t like the way the operating system works or can’t handle the way the algorithm processes photos, I’m free to return it without any hassle. I can even take a gamble on a much larger screen or a foldable handset, as I don’t have to commit for years to a new format I might not like. It actually allows me to experiment and that’s something no other contract gives you the freedom to and if I want to save a little cash, I can even downgrade to a cheaper handset for a while

So while I love my new phone, I’m already looking forward to the next one. Who knows? Future switch ups could see me getting to try out mooted Apple or Google folding phones or radical form factors that haven’t even been conceived yet. And that’s a really inspiring prospect.

So if you fancy no longer being tied down to a single handset, check out O2 Switch Up.


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