Once upon a time, your only option for where to buy mobile phones was the nearby shop. Now, the high-street brands have been joined by a mass of online options with price comparison sites, online retailers and more!
But while all of this competition has given you plenty of choice for where to buy your phones, it has meant it is hard to know where to go now. What websites are legit? Who offers the best prices? And where can I buy the cheapest iPhones?
As much as we would love to say its as simple as "go here for this" or "this is the place for the cheapest phones"...it doesn't quite work like that. But what we can tell you is which sites are the best and what each of their USPs are.
We've created a full list of the websites worth going to below with a bit more information on what each of them does best. Then you can simply choose a retailer and go buy your dream phone or contract.
- See the best iPhone prices to be paying right now
The top websites for buying phone contracts in the UK:
Carphone Warehouse (opens in new tab)
When most people think phone retailers in the UK, Carphone Warehouse will be the first one to come to mind. It sells the widest range of handsets on the most networks in the UK and frequently has special promotions. However, it is rarely the cheapest option.
Mobiles.co.uk (opens in new tab)
A brand owned by the Carphone Warehouse family, Mobiles.co.uk frequently has some of the cheapest prices around. This will be a strong place to be looking for anyone trying to bag a handset at a lower price.
e2save: (opens in new tab)
e2Save is owned by the same family as Mobiles.co.uk, just like the relationship between Affordable Mobiles and Buymobiles. It also tends to offer very similar offers, hitting some of the UK's lowest prices on contracts.
Buymobiles (opens in new tab)/Affordable Mobiles (opens in new tab)
We're combining these two websites because they are extremely similar. They're both owned by the same company and both offer similar phone contracts. Where they really tend to thrive is in their ability to offer big data plans at some surprisingly affordable price points.
Three: (opens in new tab)
When going direct to a network, prices tend to jump up. Three on the other hand often has its best prices direct on its website. However, Three saves a lot of its best offers for affiliate brands meaning you'll have to go through a link. Take a look at our guide to the best mobile phone deals to see what we mean.
EE: (opens in new tab)
It's the network most people will go for but going direct to the site will rarely secure you the best price. Instead, look through the above websites to compare EE options. However, the network can occasionally pull out some strong promotions, just make sure you use it along with other choices when buying a new phone.
Fonehouse: (opens in new tab)
Fonehouse is another third party retailer and tends to offer a lot of free upfront phone plans, deals on the latest handsets and occasionally, some budget prices on older handsets. It frequently offers some of the best prices around.
Virgin Mobile (opens in new tab)
Where Virgin is at its cheapest with phones is on its 36 month contracts. If you don't mind extending your phone ownership for an additional year it could land you one of the cheapest prices around on a top handset and sometimes even a free gift.
Sky Mobile: (opens in new tab)
Similar to Virgin, Sky thrives in the 36 month contract area. Drop back down to 24 months and you'll find the prices shoot up quite sharply.
Mobile Phones Direct: (opens in new tab)
Like many of the third party retailers, Mobile Phones Direct offers a number of more affordable contracts over going to networks. Where it shines best is in its unlimited data phone contracts and the inclusion of cashback or free gifts.
What are the best retailers for SIM-free phones?
Many of the retailers we've mentioned above also offer SIM-free phones but the best prices tend to come from high-street brands:
Amazon: (opens in new tab)
Come on...everybody knows Amazon. The giant of the sales industry frequently offers some bargains on SIM-free phones. Wait until Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday and you'll be able to grab a heavily discounted price.
Argos: (opens in new tab)
Like the rest of the SIM-free options here, Argos will often find itself offering the lowest prices around on top handsets. But where Argos really shines is in its same day delivery and click and collect options.
Very: (opens in new tab)
Like many of the other partners out there, Very has some of the best SIM-free pricing on the market and can often be seen on launch with pre-order deals for new handsets.
John Lewis: (opens in new tab)
All of these SIM-free options rotate to constantly offer top prices meaning none really stand out on price. However, for John Lewis, the inclusion of a two year warranty on most phones is a welcoming addition.
eBay: (opens in new tab)
eBay is cheap...that's its USP. Whether you end up in a heated bid or find a second hand bargain, eBay can be a great option to find a bargain on your next phone.
- Find the best SIM only deals to put in a SIM-free phone
Who offers the best prices on refurbished phones?
When it comes to going refurbished, there are two options - the websites that just do refurbished and the retailers above who also offer refurbished prices. Websites like Envirofone (opens in new tab) and Music Magpie (opens in new tab) are specifically tailored to offer refurbished phones, giving different prices depending on quality, network etc.
General retailers, like the ones mentioned above, also offer refurbished phones. These are a lot more locked in nature. They will all be A class quality, backed by guarantees and usually on contracts.
Overall, if you're planning on going refurbished, it's best to look around a number of sites under both categories to find the best price and specification for you.
What is the difference between networks and retailers?
You'll notice that in the above list of contracts, there were both the sites of networks - EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 - as well as 3rd party retailers - Carphone, Mobiles.co.uk etc.
While it can be reassuring buying directly from a network, it usually works out a lot more expensive. With the exclusion of Three, we rarely see any of the networks offering top prices and you will find you're much better off going through a 3rd party site mentioned above.
There are also MVNOs available. These are networks you may not have heard of such as iD Mobile, Voxi and GiffGaff. All of these networks piggyback on the four main networks - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone and provide the same results as the network they borrow from.
Where is the best place to buy iPhones?
Surprisingly the best website to get a new iPhone from is not directly through Apple (opens in new tab). Going straight to the original site will greet you with some of the highest prices around so instead make use of the above sites.
For contracts, we tend to see the best offers from Three, Mobiles.co.uk, Affordable Mobiles and Fonehouse. On SIM-free, prices tend to be the same on most handsets across the board.
If you go to Amazon, you can often find a trust-worthy 3rd party retailer offering some bargain iPhone prices, just make sure you find one with a strong rating who has been well reviewed.