Stop the Smartphone Swindle

Millions of people in the UK are paying for phones they already own.

Are mobile providers charging you twice for your phone?

Right now, millions of people in the UK are paying for phones they already own. Some of the biggest operators continue to charge bundled customers the same amount each month after their deals have finished, even though they’ve effectively paid off the cost of the device.

This is costing UK consumers more than £500 million every year*

You wouldn’t pay twice for a coffee or a car. So why pay twice for your mobile phone?
We don’t think it’s right to charge you for something you already own. Buy your phone directly from O2 and you won’t pay a penny more than you should for it. 

Use the calculator below to check if you’re overpaying for your phone and together, we can


*Any calculations provided on this page are purely for illustrative purposes. Calculations based on information provided by the user and specific agreements or discounts aren’t accounted for. Results based on contracts available to new customers online or in store at point of sign up assuming split contracts are taken if available. Monthly device repayment calculated by taking the average monthly UK device price at time of purchase, minus any upfront cost, and dividing it by the contract length. Average monthly UK device cost provided by independent third-party. Device assumed to be lowest storage version available prices increased annually as per the metric stated by the provider in the customer’s T&Cs and spread across the assumed device and airtime parts of monthly bill. Price rise assumed to apply every April or May following start of contract. Out-of-contract discounts applied after 3 months in line with EE and Vodafone policies, spread across the assumed device and airtime costs equally. No reductions assumed for Three.

Why are some people overpaying for their mobile phone?

Mobile phone operators generally sell two main types of contract when people get a smartphone with their airtime (data, minutes and texts) plan.

Man looking at his phone

Bundled contracts

These combine the cost of a phone and airtime into one bill.

Woman holding a credit card and a phone

Split contracts

The airtime and the smartphone loans are split into two separate payments.


What difference does the type of contract make?

With bundled contracts, providers can continue to charge customers the same amount even after they’ve reached the end of their contract and paid off their phone. This means customers are being charged for a phone they already own.


With split contracts like O2 Refresh, customers will automatically stop paying for their phone when they reach the end of their contract term, meaning an instant saving and no risk of overpayment. Any annual price rises also won’t apply to the device repayment – unlike on bundled contracts where a percentage price increase is typically applied to the whole bill.


Here’s an example.


If you take out a phone contract that costs £50 for 24 months (£30 for the device and £20 for the airtime), on a split contract your bill will automatically go down to £20 in month 25.


On a bundled contract, you could end up being charged the full £50 indefinitely – until you cancel your contract or swap to a new deal. That’s a big difference.

How can I check which type of contract I’m on?

You can check your monthly bill to see whether you’re on a split or bundled contract.


If you can see two separate parts of your bill (one for your device and one for your airtime), you’re on a split contract and should automatically get a cheaper bill at the end of your contract.

If you get one bill that covers both your phone and airtime, it’s likely you’re on a bundled contract and, unfortunately, set to continue paying more than you should when your deal’s up.

O2 was the first operator to introduce split contracts and automatically lower our direct customers’ bills as soon as their device loan’ had been repaid, having first launched our O2 Refresh plans a decade ago. Shop for split contracts with us, and avoid the Smartphone Swindle.

Feel like you’ve been swindled?

Tweet @O2 with the hashtag #SmartphoneSwindle and share your experience.