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Top mobile phone shops in the UK

Purchasing a new phone or upgrading your existing one is a burden without adding the worry of locating suitable mobile phone shops. There are plenty of retailers and selecting one involves comparing the phones and the subscription plans that are on offer.

Choose between pay as you go or opt for a monthly subscription plan. Often, phones come for 'free' if you buy a plan. The downside to this is that you are bound to a service provider from 12 to 36 months. If you are unhappy with the service, the tariffs and any other thing, you have to wait till your contract runs out of validity.

Popular mobile phone shops

To help you get started, here is a rundown of a few prominent mobile phone shops in the UK.

Phones for U (phones4u.co,uk) has both an online and offline presence selling top brands of cellular phones and plans. The website is easy to use and there are sections dedicated to reviews of phones that could help in making a decision. If you have questions, there is a live chat button as well as a forum.

Car Phone Warehouse (carphonewarehouse.co.uk) is a large retailer affiliated with Best Buy in the US. With roughly 2,430 stores spread across the UK and Europe under the Car Phone Warehouse and The Phone House brands, they offer subscriptions from six service providers such as T-mobile, Vodafone and Virgin Media. The Geek Squad provides technical support and is available 24/7 to resolve issues. While most complaints on the net refer to the poor service of the phone shop, current efforts are directed to earn the trust of clients.

Fone House (fonehouse.co.uk) has an informative homepage where you find everything that you would need for browsing. Buy online, in-store (49 shops across the UK) or by calling. The store sells popular phone brands. You can even sell or trade in your old device. No free gifts here but there are competitions for prizes such as the Motorola Xoom tablet. They work with 3, Vodafone, and T-Mobile.

Dial a Phone (dialaphone.co.uk) has plenty of choices when it comes to smart phones carrying brands such as Apple, Nokia, Blackberry, HTC, LG, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson spread across 4 carriers (O2, T-Mobile, Orange, and Vodafone). Delivery is free on all orders. Sign up for a phone plan valid for 24 months and you'll get a free gift such as consoles, laptops, and e-readers. This company is a trading division of Phones 4U Limited.

One Stop Phone Shop (onestopshopphoneshop.co.uk) is next on the list offering PayG and contract plans for popular brands of phones like the iPhone, BB, Samsung, and the like. The company works with 6 service providers such as O2, Vodafone and 3. You can buy refurbished phones, tablets and accessories. Free gifts await you when you subscribe to one of their plans. Deliveries over the net are free of charge while those placed by calling cost £5.99.

What do I need to do?

Shop smart. Read reviews and consumer reports on the existing phone plans in the market. While you get a phone free, taking on a subscription with a data plan will probably exceed the real cost of the phone.

Unless you are a heavy phone user, purchasing a plan does not make sense. It's like paying for the entire cost of your new phone plus the freebie in instalments or over the life of your contract.

Do check that you only buy a phone that you need. Price is a major consideration as well and weighing what you're getting for your money is a crucial part of the process.

'Forewarned is forearmed' and understanding the tech specs and plans thoroughly before heading to the mobile phone shops is a good way of preparing yourself to ask the right questions.

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