Contract vs. Prepaid


With the cost of data lowering and more and more inexpensive smartphones becoming available, we have to ask the question - is it still worth being on contract? Does the freedom and flexibility outweigh and out-save the contract? Or do the contract ‘deals’ still save you more?



A large part of this debate relies on the question of what do you use your smartphone for the most? According to a survey done by Htxt.Africa most mobile users in South Africa are budgeting more for data than actual call-time and sms’s. This indicates that that majority of users are no longer using their phones for traditional uses, but rather to connect on social media and browse the internet. It also doesn’t help that Mxit and Whatsapp are both free messaging services, which are now utilised more than the traditional sms at a rate of 4:1.


With data being the biggest requirement, it may be time to reconsider the contract you have - is it offering you what you actually need? Or are you effectively paying for your ‘subsidised’ phone and airtime/minutes/sms’s you don’t actually need or use? If you are, then it may be time to consider going prepaid.


Even if we look at the best possible contract deals found on and they all come to an average of R400 on 24-month contracts(Cell C is the cheapest with R389 and Vodacom the most expensive on R449) on the same type of deal - R100/minutes, 100 sms’ and 100mb data.  These offers of  minimal data and high quantity of either free minutes or airtime seem to be hardly ideal for the majority.


Now searching for the exact same phone prepaid on Guzzle, PriceCheck and Gumtree, it can be found for as little as *R5000 barely used.second hand, *R6000 at some smaller cellphone/gadget speciality stores and *R7500 at a major retailer.

If we then divide even the most expensive option by 24, and add 1GB data from Cell C/MTN/Vodacom it will roughly come to R400 a month. The exact same amount you would be paying on contract. The only difference is that you’ll actually be getting the data that you need as opposed to having to top-up/ pay contract.

Ultimately, the question shouldn’t remain contract or prepaid but rather what do I want and need from my phone? Just remember - you don’t need to remain or go on contract to access some of the biggest and best smartphones out there.

*Prices accurate at time of publication.