Beginner's Guide To: Upgrading your mobile

The mobile phone market is a hive of activity following the launches of the Apple iPhone 3GS and the Nokia N97. If you are looking to upgrade your phone, how would you go about getting your hands on one of these hot handsets?

Still in contract?

Changing your phone is easy if you are not tied into a contract as you can switch phone and/or provider without penalty. However, if you're looking to get out of your current deal early, there will probably be costs involved – you will normally have to pay the monthly tariff for the remainder of your contract term.

It is therefore best to decide whether this is a cost worth paying or whether you can wait a few months until you can switch without penalty. If your existing network provider offers the handset you want, it may let you upgrade now, if you sign up for a new contract (this will be at least 12 months). This will depend on your current tariff and which handset you want to upgrade to.

I want to keep my number

You don't have to change your number if you get a new mobile – even if you are moving to a different network. Ask your existing provider for a PAC code. This code will then be requested from you by your new network provider, which will then arrange for your number to be ported over.

Remember, it's not just about the handset

Millions of people are paying more than they need for their mobile because they are on the wrong tariff.

If your mobile bill is always more than the standard tariff cost because you exceed your call or text allowance each month, or you never use all the minutes and texts that are included in your current package, you may be able to save hundreds of pounds a year by switching to a more suitable tariff.