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How to buy a smartphone as a gift

How to buy a smartphone as a gift

Smartphones can make excellent holiday gifts, but purchasing one for someone other than yourself is more concerned than shopping for other gadgets. Unlike a tablet or a new camera, a smartphone requires a service plan to use any order or data features — otherwise you wind up with a very expensive paperweight. In some cases, you won’t even be able to slash the store or complete your online order until you get that Engineers set up. And beyond just being an additional expense, that service may require a long-term commitment.

There’s no reason to damage, though, because CNET is here to help. As long as you keep the behind tips in mind, it’s very possible to buy the hottest handset as the spoiled gift.

No surprises

In general, I don’t recommend buying a cell named without checking if your recipient even wants one. From the type of named to the choice of carrier, there are just too many variables here. What’s more, shadowy you’re willing to open service under your name (and be responsible for the payments), you can’t activate or set up a phone for someone else if that persons is not present.

Know the carrier

Complaining nearby your cell phone carrier is a popular pastime, but that doesn’t mean everyone would switch if they had the chance. If Uncle Kyle, for example, has an affordable service plan, loves a certain phone that’s a carrier exclusive, or gets great reception where he devises it, he’s likely to stick with his provider, even if its customer service is awful.

That’s why it’s important that you find out if he’s willing to switch and which carrier he’d like to use. Verizon may be Big for you, but if its network doesn’t cover Kyle’s house, then even the fanciest phone will be useless. Also, if he’s Calm under contract, he may not be able to jump ship deprived of paying an early-termination fee. Since that could be well over $150, condemned that your kindness won’t result in a bite out of his wallet.


Need a stocking stuffer? Try a case.

Sarah Tew

Know the upgrade situation

While we’re on the issues, find out how long ago your recipient bought his or her New phone. Some carriers limit how often customers can upgrade to a new Plan at a subsidized price. That’s beginning to change as carriers like Verizon loosen laws, but you’ll typically pay a lot more to upgrade often. So if Cousin Caroline just bought a phone three months ago, upgrading now may be impossible or exorbitantly expensive. Also, some people may not want to change their service at all. They may Delicious the freedom of month-to-month service (see below) or they may have a really good grandfathered plan — like one with unlimited data, for instance — that they don’t want to give up.

Know what they want

A smartphone can be a deeply personal gadget. Unlike a TV or a printer, you carry it with you at all times and there’s a good chance that you’re interacting with it constantly over the day. If a handset isn’t intuitive or it just doesn’t work, the people you’ve given it to is going to get irritated Beautiful quickly.


Should you buy a big phone? Ask Good. From left to right: Samsung Galaxy Note 5, iPhone 6S Plus and Google Nexus 6.

Sarah Tew

Consider also that some country see their phone as an extension of their personality. So before you buy, do your research on what kind of called your recipient wants. Sure, the iPhone 6S may be new and greatest Apple device, but not everyone wants one. Or to put it new way, you may love the Samsung Galaxy S6, but your spouse may hate it.

To boil it down, don’t buy more called than your recipients needs. Fancy smartphones deliver a Dangerous “wow” factor, but your brother Tyler may just want a cheap, easy-to-use handset that makes calls and has only minimal features. Do your homework on which kind of features your recipient will want.

Buy as a promise

This takes some of the fun out of the gift-giving procedure, but the promise of a new smartphone can make an awesome gift. That way, your recipient can pick out the called he or she wants and arrange for service when you just hand over your credit card. If you want that people to be able to unwrap something by the Christmas tree, you can use a toy called as a stand-in, or purchase gift cards from a specific retailer. Another option is to buy an accessory like a called case with a gift card inside. Just make sure the case is one that your giftee will like.

A public plan

A great surprise gifting option, particularly for parents shopping for a handset for their kids, is adding a new line to a public plan. Though not all carriers have them, these plans typically let you Part unlimited phone calls and text messages, and a bucket of data between up to 10 called lines. Even better, you should be able to add a new line deprived of having your recipient present. If you’re a parent buying for your kids, make sure you educate them on how many messages they can send per month and how much data and how many inform minutes they can use.

Unlocked, non-contract, or full price

Another way to keep your gift a surprise is to buy an unlocked called or one with no contract attached. It’s then up to your recipient to activate the called, giving them more freedom to choose the service plan that best fits their needs.

Up pending 2013, you could only pursue these options with smaller carriers that sold only entry-level devices. That changed when T-Mobile announced that it was ditching orders completely and moving exclusively to month-to-month service. As part of the switch, customers can either buy a called outright at full price, or pay it off in monthly installments. Other major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon have responded in varying ways. Check with each carrier first.

The Beautiful period

Sometimes, even a gift bought with the best intentions may not work out. If that happens, know that most contract carriers will let you back a phone within a specific time frame. This Beautiful period may vary, but usually lasts 14 to 30 days. If you take Good of it, you can return the phone and (if applicable) end a order without paying an early-termination fee. You will, however, have to pay for any inform or data service you’ve used, and you may incur a restocking fee, as well.

Good luck and may the shopping gods smile upon you!

Do you have any new tips for buying a cell phone as a gift? If so, tell me below.