Since 2005 or so I have always paid full price for my phone, but normally I purchased them from my provider. In the long run it’s much cheaper because you aren’t paying finance charges. From ’99 until maybe three years ago I was with Verizon and grandfathered in the unlimited data plan as long as I kept purchasing my phones like that. In 2013 I needed to upgrade my phone so I went into the Verizon store in Carrollton to buy a new smart phone. The salesman refused to sell me a phone and lied, telling me that even if I found a Verizon store to sell me one they would knock me out of the grandfathered plan. Of course it was a bald-faced lie at the time but I was so pissed off that I walked out, went across the street to AT&T and took all five lines and $400 a month to them.
Of course at that point I had to start paying for my data and was locked into a plan again lol. I went ahead and picked up an HTC One and used that until the Nexus 6 came out. For some reason I went ahead and decided to “upgrade” to the Nexus 6. After having to have it replaced five times I bought one unlocked from Amazon and started using that. Unfortunately that meant I was still paying for a phone I wasn’t using (which is in a box, ready for me to sell on Swappa or eBay.)
My line went month-to-month yesterday so I just finished canceling that line on the account!
Although I have had the line on AT&T I have had it forwarded to ad have been using Google’s Project Fi for the last 18 months. Maybe a little longer. While the coverage isn’t quite what my wife has I really haven’t had any problems with it and I live in a semi-rural area. I keep a pre-paid Verizon Hotspot for those times that I might not have coverage through Fi (which uses T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular towers.) My daughter has been off of AT&T and also using Project Fi for a few months now as well.
I now have three lines left on my AT&T account. One goes to month-to-month in February, one in June and one sometime in 2018. Ugh. Whar’s funny is that my bill from them will drop to somewhere around $300, maybe a little higher. I have two on Project Fi and my bill is a third of what I am paying AT&T.
Regardless of what provider anyone uses I can tell you that the nicest feeling in the world is to not be locked in to some jack-ass provider that’s holding your feet to the fire with their shitty plans. Buy your phones outright and go month-to-month. If you really want to save money shop online every month for pre-paid plans. Most of them have deals and you can switch providers. I’m not going that route since I really like Project Fi (which, knowing Google, will disappear at some point in the next few years) but if you do, just set up a Google Voice account so you can use the same phone number for all of them. You can actually use Google Voice to ring on your mobile and landline (does anyone still have one of those?) at the same time.