Free gifts on Mobile Phone Contract::Are they worth it?

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There are now a plethora of deals offering seeming 'free' gifts like games consoles with a mobile phone contract.
However, on closer examination, you're simply paying for the console over the life of the contract and in most cases, quite a bit more.
There are only certain circumstances I would recommend doing this kind of deal and there are only a few good value
ones out there. Here are our recommendations:

1) Avoid 18-month deals. Probably the biggest sin. There is no requirement to get stuck in to such a long contract.
Chances are that you would want to change your phone before the standard 12 months is up anyway.

2) Consider the cost of the gift. Considering the cost of the gift is another key issue. We would recommend using the PS3
for comparison as that's the most expensive gift out there at around £300. Other cheaper gifts may have the cost of contract reduced.

3) Compare price of contract without gift.
It will be unlikely that there will be direct comparisons as the plain contract may offer cashback incentives or a significantly better handset. But still, it is worth comparing prices.

4) Be willing to accept a worse handset. It is unlikely you will get the best handset for free as well as a console. But, f you're willing to compromise, then you could still get a good deal.

Remember, that like cashback deals, these companies play the percentage game. A fair wedge of money is made by people simply forgetting. After your contract period is up, you will be on a poor-value contract with no obligation to stay, yet many people do.
So, after those 12 months, walk away for a new deal. You may, or may not be able to carry your number with you.

Best deal so far: Sony Ericsson Z610i + FREE PS3, on Orange Panther 45, which is a 12 month contract at £45/month, giving 600 anytime minutes and 300 texts. By comparison, go to the Orange website, and you will get the same deal without the console, and you will still have to pay to get a premium handset.

Total cost over the life of the contract is £554, which is not too bad for a contract of that type - if you use all the benefits on it. For reference, that £554 factors in the PS3 (Apprx. £250), giving a cost of £25 month for the deal, pretty much a good rate for it.

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