updated 05:59 pm EST, Thu November 15, 2012
Year-long contract offers new handsets, quicker upgrades
UK mobile network Vodafone has introduced a new phone contract that offers handset leasing. Called Red Hot, customers can pay for a contract for a 12-month period with unlimited calls, unlimited texts, insurance, and 2GB of data allowance, with the option of switching the handset for a newer model after the year's rental has completed.
A company blog post spells out its reasoning behind the new style of contract, suggesting that its users would prefer getting the latest smartphone on the market, then switching it a year later to the top-of-the-line model at that time. "For some people, being up to date with the latest new tech is a big part of who they are," said Mark Howe, head of post-pay at Vodafone UK, of smartphone purchasing. "Some people feel their phone is effectively old tech with a large chunk of their contract still remaining."
While the idea behind the contract seems to be sound, it does seem marginally expensive compared to the more-normal contracts Vodafone offers. One example offered by the carrier is for a Samsung Galaxy S III at £47 ($75US) per month. In comparison, a 12-month contract from Vodafone for the same handset offering 900 minutes and 1GB of data at a similar monthly cost with a £150 ($240) upfront charge, and you would keep the phone at the end of the term instead of handing the rented handset back to the company.
While Vodafone is the first UK carrier to operate a handset-rental policy, Phones4U entered the market first with their JUMP program, offering a similar service but for both Vodafone and Orange phone networks.