how to save money on technology

Cost of living crisis: Replacing a laptop unexpectedly can be a huge cost. Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters

As inflation tightens its grip on UK households, many fear the time when their old laptop will run out, as replacing it could be costly amid a cost of living crisis where every penny counts.

Here are some of the best tips from the consumer body Which? on how to save money on technology and computing when it’s finally time to replace your laptop.

1. Buy in the sales, but watch the price

Which? suggests looking for the best price, as sometimes sale prices can be misleading. Buyers should be aware that sometimes a “sale” price may simply be the normal price of a product at other times of the year. Which? has repeatedly found that 99.5% of Black Friday “deals” were actually cheaper or the same price at other times of the year. If you know a sale is coming, it’s worth checking the price of the device before the sale, to make sure it’s a real bargain. Buyers can do this by checking the website in the weeks leading up to a sale and checking the price on other websites to compare and better judge whether a deal is as good as it sounds. If you buy from Amazon, you can use the camelcamelcamel website to check price history.

two. Buy refurbished or second hand

A refurbished or refurbished laptop usually has been professionally restored by a manufacturer or retailer to the closest possible “like new” condition, and usually comes with warranties as well. Which? found that refurbished laptops and phones are sometimes hundreds of pounds cheaper than buying a new model. Always remember to check if the device is still compatible with vital security updates.

3. Compare before you buy

Consumers should shop around before buying a new device. For example, in May 2022 Which one? I found an Asus C101 laptop for sale in B-grade used condition on eBay for around £220. This may seem reasonable for a laptop that was originally £299 new, but Currys PC World had the same model for sale. , brand new, for £199.

Four. Exchange of second-hand devices

Those looking to buy a new phone or laptop could trade it in for cash on their next purchase or contract. For example, Apple offers to take old devices and trade them in for credit toward new purchases or an Apple Store gift card to use anytime. If the old device isn’t eligible, meaning it’s damaged beyond repair, Apple offers to recycle it. The Apple Trade-In website has a list of estimated prices for iPhone models from the iPhone SE (1st generation) to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

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Depending on the age and condition of the device, customers can get between £35 and £610 for their device. Samsung also has a trade-in scheme for mobile phones, tablets, wearable devices, and occasionally other devices as well. Customers can find out the value of their devices on the brand’s website. It also offers ‘featured’ deals, for example customers can currently claim up to £520 off a Galaxy S22 Ultra when they trade in an old phone.

5. Check offers and promotions for students

Students can often get discounts on laptops, especially at the beginning of the school year. Retailers and manufacturers offer student discounts, either by requiring verification through a student email address or a membership with a student deals website like StudentBeans. Microsoft and Apple offer a 10% discount for students, as well as other exclusive benefits. Dell and Samsung offer up to 25% discount. It’s also worth checking out other retailers who might have their own limited-time student deals.

6. Check the price of HP a month after it goes on sale

HP laptops are found at almost every laptop retailer, but most of the “deals” you’ll find are at Currys, with dozens of models available. Most HP laptops go on sale at a higher price, then are discounted by at least £100 after a month or so. HP also sells direct through their website, so it’s always worth looking for discounts and coupon codes to see if this works out cheaper.

7. Make sure it’s compatible with Windows 11

If I buy a second-hand or refurbished laptop, which one? recommends purchasing one that is eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade in the future. Microsoft’s support website has a fully up-to-date list of a laptop’s minimum specs to be eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade.

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If a computer isn’t compatible with Windows 11, it will stop receiving Windows 10 security updates in October 2025, at which point the device will be unprotected from the latest threats.

8. Check reviews before buying

It’s important to check reviews before spending money on an expensive laptop or phone. If there are annoying issues with a new device, or you need to upgrade after a year or two, it may not be worth your money. Which? has a variety of advice guides to help shoppers choose a laptop that’s right for them.

9. Think about what features you need

It’s not always necessary to spend a fortune on a laptop, especially if it’s only used for everyday use. Which? I’ve found decent models for £200 or less, if they’re just going to be used for internet browsing and light note-taking. The cheapest laptops usually come with 4GB of RAM, which will be enough for some. Certain features and extras can also increase the cost of a new laptop. Buyers can avoid overpaying for a laptop by weighing up what they need from a new device. For example, it is often not necessary to pay more for more than 8 GB of RAM, which ones? found that bumping up to 16GB with a Macbook Air can cost £200.

Since many people now back up files and photos to the cloud, it may not be worth buying a laptop with massive storage potential. You’ll save money by choosing a laptop with less internal storage and instead use free cloud storage, typically 15GB (Google Drive) or less. Google One is available for around £1.59 per month for 100GB.

See: The risks of buying now and paying later

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