We know it’s true – sorting out a new mobile deal can feel like a minefield. And while it’s also true that we’re really quite good at offering some of the best deals around (we’ve been doing it for a while now, after all) it’s still a lot to consider.

Finding a mobile deal can be even harder when times are tough, or you’re on a tight budget – and no one knows more about budgeting than a student. Cheap supermarket noodles and layers of jumpers instead of paying for heating don’t even begin to cover how much you’ve got to balance your money when you’re studying – and then your phone contract comes to an end smack in the middle of it.

It’s not exactly convenient, but we’re here to add our two cents worth to help you keep costs down and make the most of every last penny. Because it’s possible, we promise! We’ve got four brilliant tips that make sure you can get the deal you need and want – and there’s something for everyone.

 Opt for big data deals.

Okay, here us out – more data doesn’t necessarily mean paying more. Big networks like Three, O2 and Vodafone love to offer up piles of data at genuinely affordable prices on all kinds of phones, from budget handsets to the latest iPhone model.

The thing to think about here is value. If you choose a cheaper deal with less data when you sign up for a new mobile phone contract, there’s a good chance you’re going to go over on your data allowance and end up paying a premium on it. And when you’re a student, that unexpected extra cost at the end of the month can be the difference between paying the leccy bill and going without.

This is especially true if you use your mobile data as a hotspot when you’re out and about, or even in place of Wi-Fi at home. Spotting a mobile phone deal with a huge hunk of data might seem unnecessary, but it’s always easier to use less and get a bargain than it is to go over and struggle to cover the cost.

Here are our favourites...

Google Pixel 8 Pro with Unlimited data and £0 upfront for £49/month on Three.

iPhone 15 Pro with Unlimited data and £0 upfront for £53/month on Three.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with Unlimited data and £49 upfront for £51/month on Vodafone.

 Look for lower price points.

If your mobile phone contract is coming to an end while you’re a student, the chances are you’re going to need a new one – but that doesn’t mean you have to get the latest, most expensive device out there.

Sure, it’d be awesome to get a brand-new Apple iPhone, the latest Google Pixel or the newest Samsung Galaxy device, but there’s a time and a place, right? And this is 2023 – sticking to a “budget” device doesn’t even mean you’re missing out on the coolest new tech.

The biggest brands in mobiles all have their own way of helping the little guy along and have plenty of low-cost options that are full of fun features that don’t break the bank.

For Apple fans, the choice is pretty obviously an iPhone SE – which has the size, style and smoothness you love from Apple, without the associated price tag.

There’s a little more choice available if you’re an Android fan, but we’ll start with the Google option of the Pixel 7a. Google surprised everyone with this little wonder, packing in some serious camera tech to rival their other devices, but in a low-cost handset. And even better, there’s almost always a great deal on this device.

If you prefer a Samsung, then the Galaxy A34 and Galaxy A54 are excellent for keeping costs down, as are some of the slightly higher-end models from last year, like the Galaxy S22.

Of course, there’s more than just these three brands on Android – it’s worth shopping around brands like Sony, Honor, Nokia and Motorola to get a better idea of how much you can get for your money, and many of these brands will throw in freebies with their latest handsets too.

Here are our favourites...

Google Pixel 7a with 20GB data and £0 upfront for £21/month on O2.

Apple iPhone SE with 100GB data and £0 upfront for £23/month on Three.

Samsung Galaxy S22 with 150GB data and £0 upfront for £28/month on Vodafone.

 Consider buying refurbished.

Getting a new mobile deal as a student doesn’t always have to mean brand new – after all, pre-loved, eco-conscious options are worth considering no matter what you’re buying, and that means phones, too.

New-to-you refurbished devices are a smart way to get more for your money, and can even include getting the latest tech and handsets that have only been available for a few weeks or months. And they come rigorously tested, with guarantees and charging cables to boot. The only thing you’re not going to get is an extra like headphones because frankly, it’s just kind of gross to think about using someone else’s old headphones, right?

But to keep it as simple as possible, our refurbs are pre-owned mobiles that have been returned to us (sometimes within 14 days of purchase) and have been checked and tested within an inch of their lives so that they work just like new. Those that have been returned within 14 days basically are new, but regardless of how long the refurbs were previously owned for, they’re all graded so that you know what you’re getting.

And every single refurbished device comes with a 12-month warranty, totally wiped of all previous data, in a shiny new box – just like a new device, but way more student budget-friendly.

Here are our favourites...

Refurbished Apple iPhone 14 with 100GB data and £0 upfront for £32/month on Three.

Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S23 with 100GB data and £0 upfront for £30/month on O2.

 Switch to SIM only.

If you’re a student looking for the best mobile deal, then there’s one pretty obvious option we haven’t mentioned yet – not getting a new mobile at all.

If you’re happy with the device you’ve already got, why not stick with it? Switching to a SIM only deal is a cheaper, smarter way to keep your mobile costs down. And you’ll likely find that you can get more data, minutes, texts (and sometimes even perks) by grabbing a contract that you can pop into your existing device.

This is because most mobile phone contracts are made up of two things – the cost of your device, and the cost of the data, texts and minutes you use with it. When you knock that first part off, you can pay significantly less every month, keep the phone you’ve already paid off from your old contract, and get more for your money.

SIM only deals also offer more flexibility when it comes to contract length, with some as short as just one month, stretching up to 24 months. So, there’s no need to commit if you’re not sure (or if that next student loan payment comes through and you’re suddenly feeling more flash with the cash!)

Here are our favourites...

Unlimited data, minutes & texts for £15.25/month and £0 upfront on Three.

25GB data, unlimited minutes & texts for £8/month and £0 upfront on Vodafone.

100GB data, unlimited minutes & texts for £12/month and £9 upfront on SMARTY.

30GB data, unlimited minutes & texts for £10/month and £0 upfront on VOXI.