Customers are generally entitled to a phone upgrade after their two-year contracts are completed with major phone carriers. They also typically have an option to select among phones advertised for free. It is important to note, however, that the price of a contract eventually covers the cost of free phones.
As of April 2015, the two-year contract model is popular among major cellphone carriers. These contracts allow companies to sell phones at significant discounts, and most brands offer several free models. However, the cost of these contracts is intended to recoup the cost of the discounted phone. People satisfied with their plans may prefer to upgrade to a free phone instead of keeping an old one, since the quality of phones typically increases over the length of a contract.
Customers who want a new phone before a contract is finished can ask about the carrier's early upgrade program. These programs usually require an upfront payment or higher monthly payments, but new customers or customers who select a phone sold at no cost for upgrades may qualify for a discount.
Not all service changes necessitate buying a new phone. Customers whose contracts have ended can switch to a provider that uses the same networking infrastructure and keep their current phones. This can allow customers to switch to prepaid plan providers, which typically offer lower rates than contract plans.