At the risk of becoming somewhat unpopular, one of the many perks of this job is being able to change my mobile phone regularly. I just about get to grips with the latest Sony Ericsson offering when Samsung's next gizmo lands on my desk, before it's the turn of the Nokia N9 million and 9. However, talking to friends and family it would appear that the usual turnaround of changing your handset is between six months to one year. Yet with the influx of two year contracts coupled with the economic downturn, are we more likely to stick with one handset for a longer period of time?
Back in March, O2 announced that they were reducing the cost of an iPhone 3G from £73.41 to £44.05 per month for a 16GB iPhone and £44.05 to £34.26 per month for an 8GB version as long as customers signed away their souls for two years as opposed to 18 months. And just this week Vodafone revealed that the HTC Magic (the operator's first Google Android device) would be available for free when customers agreed to a two year contract.
Now, while we'll reserve the right to pass comment on the HTC Magic until we get our hands on it (expect a full review this time next week) all the murmurs point to it being a breathtaking device. The iPhone too, while it has its critics, is an undisputed classic and therefore to make a saving of £704.64 over two years for the 16GB variant and £234.96 for the 8GB version can only be applauded.
Yet being tied to one phone for 24 months has obvious drawbacks. For example, what if during that time frame, which is almost a certainty, a better handset comes out or, heaven forbid, you fall out of love with the phone and want another one? Rumours are already rife that a new version of the iPhone is on the horizon. One option is to buy yourself out of your contract but that comes at a cost, while both O2 and HTC offer a 14 day cooling off period that enables you to cancel your contract if you're unhappy with the phone or tariff.
Of course, one obvious way of combating this dilemma is to go prepay. Many of the most powerful handsets around are now available SIM free or with pay-as-you-go SIM cards. Buy one of these phones and simply trade it in when a newer model hits the shelves or you become so frustrated with the phone that you throw it under a bus. Talking of which, click here to see our video of a London double decker bus driving over a Sonim XP3 Enduro.
What do you think? Is two years too long? How often do you change your handset? Have you ever agreed to a long-term contract and regretted it?