how to save money on technology

Cost of living A boy tries to use an Apple laptop at a computer store in Tokyo, Japan, May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Cost of Living: Replacing a laptop unexpectedly can be a huge expense. Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters

As inflation tightens its stranglehold on UK households, many fear the moment their old laptops will fail, as replacing them can be expensive at a time of crisis. cost of living crisis where every cent counts.

Here are some top tips from consumer organization Which? on how to save money on technology and computers when it’s finally time to replace your laptop.

1. Shop in the sale, but keep an eye on the price

Which? suggests shopping around for the best price, as retail prices can be misleading at times. Buyers should be aware that sometimes a ‘sale price’ can 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 at the same price at other points in the year. If you know a sale is coming, it’s worth checking the unit’s price prior to selling to make sure it’s a real bargain. Shoppers can do this by checking the website in the weeks leading up to a sale and comparing the price on other websites to better judge whether a deal is as good as it looks. If you shop on Amazon, you can use the website camel camel camel to check price history.

2. Buy refurbished or second-hand

A refurbished or refurbished laptop is usually professionally restored by a manufacturer or retailer to nearest ‘as new’ condition, they also usually come with warranties. Which? found that refurbished laptops and phones can be hundreds of pounds cheaper than buying a brand new model. Always remember to check if the device is still supported by Critical Security Updates.

3. Look around before you buy

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

4. Trade in used appliances

Those looking to buy a new phone or laptop may be able to trade it in for money from their next purchase or contract. For example, Apple offers to take old devices and exchange them for credit towards new purchases or an Apple Store gift card that can be used at any time. If the old device doesn’t qualify, that is, if it’s damaged beyond repair, Apple offers to recycle it. The Apple Trade-In website has a list of price estimates 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 gadget. Samsung also has a trade-in scheme for mobile phones, tablets, wearables and sometimes other devices. Customers can discover the value of their gadgets on the brand’s website. It also offers ‘spotlight’ deals, for example customers can currently get up to £520 off a Galaxy S22 Ultra when trading in an old phone.

5. Look for student deals and offers

Especially at the beginning of the academic year, students can often get a discount on laptops. Retailers and manufacturers offer discounts for students that require verification through a student email address or membership to a student deal website, such as: StudentBeans† Microsoft and Apple both offer a 10% discount for students and other exclusive benefits. Dell and Samsung offer up to 25% off. It’s also worth checking out other retailers that may have their own limited-time student deals.

6. Check HP’s price after it’s been on sale for a month

HP laptops can be found at almost any laptop store, but most of the “deals” you’ll find are at Currys, with dozens of models available. Most HP laptops come up for sale at a higher price and get a discount of at least £100 after about a month. HP also sells direct through its website, so it’s always worth checking for discounts and voucher codes to get see if this works out cheaper.

7. Make sure it is compatible with Windows 11

If you buy a used 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 updated list of the minimum specifications for a laptop to qualify for a Windows 11 upgrade.

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If a computer is not compatible with Windows 11, it will no longer receive security updates for Windows 10 in October 2025, after which the device will no longer be protected against the latest threats.

8. Please check the reviews before buying

It’s important to check reviews before plunging into an expensive laptop or phone. If there are annoying issues with a new device, or if it needs an upgrade after a year or two, it may not be worth what you spend on it. Which? has a range of advice guides to help customers choose a laptop that’s right for them.

9. Think about what features you need

It is not always necessary to spend a fortune on a laptop, especially if you only use it for everyday use. Which? found decent models for £200 or less, if only used for browsing the web and taking light notes. Cheaper laptops usually come with 4 GB of RAM, which will be enough for some. Certain features and extras can also add to the cost of a new laptop. Shoppers can avoid paying too much for a laptop by considering what they need from a new device. For example, it is often not necessary to pay extra for more than 8 GB of RAM. Which? found that ramping up to 16GB with a Macbook Air can cost £200.

Since many people are now backing up files and photos to the cloud, it might not be worth buying a laptop with huge storage potential. You will save money by choosing a laptop with less internal storage and instead using free cloud storage, usually 15 GB (Google Drive) or less. Google One is available for around £1.59 per month for 100GB.

Note: the risks of buying now and paying later

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