Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular — and no wonder. With a smart phone, you can carry everything you need in the palm of your hand.
Your smart phone can act as a camera, GPS device, and do so much more than just allow you to talk to others. You can check email, complete banking transactions , and update your social media statuses.
But smart phones can also be expensive. I know. I finally ditched my prepaid cell phone  and got a smart phone on a family plan with my husband. We didn’t want to lock in to a two-year plan, and we found that the contract-less deal offered by T-Mobile would save us money in the long run — even if we did buy the phones up front.
Others, though, are more about the cash flow than the long-term savings. And that can make sense if you aren’t prepared to shell out between $350 and $600 for a smart phone.
Where to Get a Free Smart Phone
Of course, while your smart phone is technically free, the reality is that you are still paying over time. In many cases, you have to sign up for a two-year contract in order to get the free phone. But it still seems like a good deal, especially if you are signing up for a family plan and you and your partner (and maybe a child or two) want smart phones.
Here are some available smart phones:
- iPhone: Any carrier that offers an iPhone will give you some sort of a free when you sign a contract. Verizon and Sprint, as well as AT&T, offer free iPhones when you sign up for a plan. Pay attention, though. In some cases you will only get a phone with 8 GB, or you might have to settle for a refurbished phone.
- Samsung: For some people I know, it’s all about the Galaxy. You can find different versions of the Galaxy for free when you sign up for two years with Sprint or T-Mobile. It’s also possible to get a free Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate refurbished for free from AT&T.
- LG: There are a number of LG smart phones, from the Viper to the Lucid 2 to the Optimus G to the Escape. You can get a free phone with any of the major wireless carriers when you sign the two-year contract.
- HTC: HTC phones are gaining in popularity, and you can get the EVO or Droid Incredible if you sign up with Sprint or Verizon. AT&T offers the HTC First for $0.99 — which is practically free.
- Pantech: Get the Marauder or Pocket from a variety of wireless carriers for free when you are willing to sign a contract.
- Nokia Lumia: Want a Windows phone? You can get it free when you sign up for a Verizon contract. AT&T offers the Lumia 820 for $0.01 when you sign up for a package.
When you sign up for your free phone, make sure that you understand the entire process. You may need to pay a little up front (like $50) and then send away for a mail-in rebate. This is common practice with Sprint.
It’s also worth noting that, with T-Mobile, you don’t have to pay the entire cost of your smart phone at once. You can pay a small amount each month — interest free — over the course of two years. You aren’t locked into a contract, though, so if you decide to jump ship and you are on a payment plan with your smart phone, you’ll have to pay the entire balance. It’s not the same as the cancellation fee that you pay when you switch carriers before a two-year contract is up, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
Image: Carissa Rogers