O2 has introduced a new mobile price plan aimed at smartphone enthusiasts who think they'll want to upgrade their handsets before the end of their contract duration.
Called O2 Refresh, the tariff is divided into two parts: one covering airtime and data and the other for the device itself.
That means should you decide you want to upgrade your handset before the end of your contract, you simply have to pay off the handset part of the agreement then sign up for a new phone, at which point the 24-month airtime part of the contract is reset from scratch.
The individual price plans available for both airtime and handsets are specific to O2 Refresh, and in not all smartphones are available through the scheme.
The list includes Samsung's Galaxy S III, Galaxy S III Mini, Galaxy Note 2 and ATIV S, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Z10, the HTC One and HTC 8X, the Sony Xperia T and Xperia Z, the Apple iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, the Nokia Lumia 820 and the LG Nexus 4. The BlackBerry Q10 and Samsung Galaxy S4 will be added to the list when they become available.
The cost of each phone varies, with Refresh effectively a payment plan for you to buy the phone over the duration of the contract. The example O2 uses is the HTC One, which on Refresh costs you £49.99 up front plus £20 a month over 24 months.
The total cost, then, is £529.99, and should you wish to upgrade before the 24 months is up, you simply have to pay however much is needed to get you to that amount.
As for the airtime plans, there are three available costing £12 per month (600 minutes, unlimited texts, 750MB data), £17 per month (unlimited texts/minutes, 1GB data) and £22 per month (unlimited texts/minutes, 2GB of data).
Sticking with the HTC One, then, the three airtime plans on O2 Refresh will mean a total of £32, £37 or £42 per month, plus £49.99 up front.
Interestingly, the exact same phone on a conventional O2 contract will cost exactly the same per month for exactly the same airtime and data, but at £32 per month you'll have to pay £109.99 for the phone itself while at £42 per month you'll only have to pay £29.99. At £37 per month the deal is identical.
In other words, if you're likely to go for a lower-cost price plan on O2, you'd be stupid not to go for O2 Refresh, even if you don't plan to upgrade early – unless you're offered other sweeteners on the deal, such as existing one-month early upgrade offers.
The situation will no doubt vary slightly depending on the phone in question, but the bottom line seems to be there won't be much difference in overall cost, but potentially you're more likely to save the less you were planning on spending overall in the first place.
O2 Refresh will be available from Tuesday, April 16.