5 Ways To Hack Your Smartphone Bill

Nowadays, everyone and their mom has a smartphone. These handy little gadgets are making it easier to keep in touch with friends and family, but the plans they come with aren’t cheap. Is it possible to be a happy smartphone owner without paying thousands of pesos a month?

Good news: it is! These five hacks will help you get the most out of your smartphone without your wallet suffering too much for it. Hack your smartphone bill now:

1. Look at postpaid plans with free phones.

free phones

Photo: Shutterstock

Take your pick.

Lots of carriers provide free phones for no additional cash-out. So if you don’t need the latest and greatest smartphone and just want a phone that will let you check Facebook and play Candy Crush, these plans that come with free phones will save you a lot of money. For example, for P599 a month, you can get the Microsoft Lumia 535 Ultra-Selfie phone for free from Globe, which comes with unlimited calls and texts to other Globe and TM subscribers as well as 100 MB of data every month.

This strategy works best if the plan you want suits your needs perfectly. If all your friends are on Globe, for example, and you don’t need more than 100 MB of data every month, then Plan 599 with its free phone would be great for your wallet.

2. Bring your own phone.

Bringing your own phone to a carrier may save you even more money than getting a plan that comes with a phone. For example, getting an iPhone 4s on Plan 500 from Smart requires a P10,300 cash-out. Over the 24-month life of the plan, you’ll pay a total of P22,300.

But a refurbished iPhone 4s only costs P6,638.99 on Lazada.com.ph. And if you have a MasterCard, you can get an extra 10% off on MasterCard Mondays, meaning you’ll only pay P5,975.09. for the unit. That’s a savings of P4,324.91 right off the bat.

Not only will bringing your own phone save you money, it will also give you more control over your total cellphone bill. Because you brought your own phone, you won’t be locked into any particular plan — you can choose the plan that suits your needs so you don’t waste a single peso. Instead of being tied to Smart’s Plan 500, which might not suit your needs, you could go for their Unli Text 399 instead, which gives you unlimited texts and free 100 MB of internet. So if you get an iPhone 4s online from Lazada, and then go for the Unli Text 399 plan, you’ll only pay P15,551.09 over two years. That’s a savings of P6,748.91 over the life of your contract! And you’ll be free to replace your phone whenever you want while keeping your plan.

So before committing to a carrier for a new phone, check if you can get a phone cheaper somewhere else first, and then find the plan that suits your needs and doesn’t come with extras that only cost you money but you’ll never use.

3. There’s more to life than iPhones!

not iphone

Photo: Shutterstock

This guy’s pretty happy with his non-iPhone.

Filipinos love name brands, but to save money, look beyond the label. iPhones may be a very popular smartphone option, but they’re also very pricey. An introductory iPhone 6 plan from Globe costs P999 a month + a P24,000 cash-out, which you can pay over 24 months at 0% installment. That translates to P1,999 a month, or P47,976 for the duration of your contract!

You can save a lot of money by going with a different, cheaper phone that performs the same functions as the fancier iPhone. You can look at the hundreds of (cheaper) phones that run on Android, Windows, or any other operating system. The Lenovo Vibe X S960, for example, goes for only P7,000 online. As in #2, getting a cheaper phone will lower your bill over the 2 years that your contract is active. So once you widen your horizons beyond the iPhone, your potential bill gets lower.

4. Keep an eye on your data usage.

Ever get a bill that was a lot higher than usual? A big reason for that may be your data usage. A lot of smartphones run programs in the background that use up data without you noticing, so much so that you may go beyond your monthly data allowance and end up paying thousands of pesos beyond your regular plan. Smart and Globe both have “anti-bill-shock” plans which put a cap on how much they can charge you for going over your data plan (P1,200 for Smart; P999 for Globe PowerSurf).

But if you closely monitor your data usage, you won’t have to pay anything extra at all. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Completely switch off mobile data, and only turn it on when you need it
  • For some phones, you can make it so that certain apps can’t use mobile internet. Use this option for data-heavy apps that you don’t need 24/7, like podcast apps or YouTube
  • If you have an iPhone, disable “Background App Refresh”. This can be found in Settings > General > Background App Refresh
  • If you have an Android 4.0 or later, you can set mobile data limits. Go to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage > Set mobile data limit
  • Put your phone on airplane mode when going abroad so you don’t get charged roaming by accident
  • Use Wi-Fi whenever possible

5. Go prepaid.


Photo: Shutterstock

Going prepaid can save you tons.

If your phone usage isn’t regular enough to justify the monthly bills you pay, consider going prepaid instead. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be locked down to a postpaid plan to get the most out of your smartphone. “Consumers more and more don’t understand why they have to be in a two-year contract in order to get great service with devices that are current,” says Lynne O’Donnell, brand manager of Sprint-owned Virgin Mobile USA, to Computerworld.

There are great advantages to going prepaid with your smartphone:

  • No contract needed, so if you get fed up with your provider, you can easily switch with no fees
  • No worries about surprise charges or exceeding limits. Mike Katz, the head of T-Mobile USA’s prepaid division, tells Computerworld: “Since you pay in advance for your service, the idea of overages and spending more than what you signed up for isn’t a concern.”
  • Many providers have prepaid promos that let you enjoy a la carte services (like data or unlimited texting) for low prices

With a little planning, you can outsmart the telcos and only pay for what you need. Do your research, compare plans and phones, and choose the ones that suit your needs and budget. This way, you can check Facebook and play your games to your heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

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