MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Popular smart phones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy are pretty pricey.
They can run at least $600 for a new one. And trying to keep up with the newest models being introduced almost every year can definitely break the bank.
CBS4 Anchor Walter Makaula took a look at the new trend of leasing versus buying, and the pros and cons of both.
“The interesting thing is that while we want the latest and greatest, only 10 percent of consumers right now will give up their phone within a year,” said Delia Passi.
Passi is a consumer advocate and administrative marketing manager for the Women’s Choice Award.
She says if having the latest tech gadget in your pocket is important to you, your final decision is usually based on price and your budget.
“While the opportunity is great to upgrade, you have to look at the pricing structure to make sure it works for you,” Passi said. “For example, let’s take AT&T. They have the ‘Next’ program. That’s not a lease program, that’s an installment program.”
The biggest benefit with a lease program is you have the option of upgrading to a newer phone model, usually after just a year. You don’t get that option when you buy.
But with a lease program, although it may be cheaper, you have to return the phone at the end of the agreement or when you upgrade – meaning you can’t pass it off to your child or sell it.
So rather than leasing, buying may be a better option.
And if you can’t make that big payment up front to purchase the smart phone, ask about an installment plan. Most companies offer them now.
“So you get these payments, but you end up owning the phone at the end,” Passi said.
And that’s a good thing because when you get a new phone you can sell the old one and recoup some of your investment , sometimes for as much as $400.
But Passi warns before you sign on the dotted line, you need to ask yourself a few more questions.
“Am I paying for that phone month after month and then, when I go to upgrade, is there maybe a small charge? If I try to change carriers, a huge fee at the end? Or when I want to purchase the phone at the end, there’s another upcharge?” she said.
And be aware of deals that sound too good to be true.
She says before you walk in the store you need to do your homework.
“The first thing is, don’t make your decision at the store. Spend the time before you walk into a store, because at the store you’re going to be faced with a sales person, who’s going to be aggressive about talking to you about all these plans. They could be overwhelming for most people,” Passi said. “Once you tie in to that contract, that’s it. You’re stuck and you could be stuck for years.”
Overall, remember a few key things.
If you decide to lease, you may get a slightly better monthly payment up front and be allowed to upgrade much more easily.
But, buying versus leasing ends up with nearly the same out of pocket investment if you sell the old phone to recoup some of your expenses.
So it may just come down to how often you want to upgrade.
If you like keeping up with the Joneses, leasing may be a better choice.