how to save on technology

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

As inflation increases its hold on UK homes, many fear the moment when their old laptop will be discontinued, as replacing it can be expensive amid a cost-of-living crisis where every penny counts.

Here are some consumer body tips Which? on how to save money on technology and computing when it finally comes time to replace your laptop.

1. Shop at clearance sales, but keep an eye on the price

What? suggest shopping around for the best price as sometimes selling prices can be misleading. Buyers should be aware that sometimes a “sale” price may just be the regular price of a product at other times of the year. What? repeatedly found that 99.5% of Black Friday ‘deals’ were actually cheaper or the same price at other points in the year. If you know there’s a sale coming up, it’s worth checking the price of the device before the sale to make sure it’s a genuine bargain. Buyers can do this by checking the site in the weeks leading up to a sale and checking the price on other sites to compare to make a better judgment on whether a deal is as good as it looks. If you buy from Amazon, you can use the camelcamelcamel website to check the price history.

two. Buy refurbished or used

A refurbished or refurbished laptop has usually been professionally restored by a manufacturer or dealer to as close to ‘like new’ condition as possible, they often also come with warranties. What? found that refurbished laptops and phones are sometimes hundreds of pounds cheaper than buying a new model. Always remember to verify that your device is still compatible with vital security updates.

3. Research before you buy

Consumers should research before purchasing a new device. For example, in May 2022 Which? found an Asus C101 laptop for sale in used Grade B condition on eBay for around £220. That might 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. Devices used for exchange

Those looking to buy a new phone or laptop can exchange it for cash on their next purchase or contract. For example, Apple offers to pick up old devices and exchange them for credit for new purchases or an Apple Store gift card to use anytime. If the old device is ineligible, that is, if it is damaged beyond repair, Apple offers to recycle it. The Apple Trade-In website has a list of price estimates for iPhone models from iPhone SE (1st generation) to iPhone 11 Pro Max.

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Depending on the age and condition of the device, customers can fetch between £35 and £610 for the gadget. Samsung also has a swap scheme for phones, tablets, wearables, and occasionally other devices as well. Customers can discover the value of their gadgets on the brand’s website. It also offers standout deals, for example customers can currently claim up to £520 on a Galaxy S22 Ultra when they trade in an old phone.

5. Check for student promotions and offers

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

6. Check HP price after one month of 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 and then get a discount of at least £100 after about a month. HP also sells directly through their website, so it’s always worth checking discounts and voucher codes to see if that works out cheaper.

7. Check if it is compatible with Windows 11

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

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If a computer does not support Windows 11, it will no longer receive Windows 10 security updates in October 2025, at which point the device will be unprotected from the latest threats.

8. Check reviews before you buy

It’s important to check reviews before using an expensive laptop or phone. If there are annoying issues with a new device, or if it needs updating after a year or two, it might not be worth what you spend on it. What? 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 just for everyday use. What? found decent models for £200 or less if they are only used for internet browsing and light note-taking. Cheaper laptops usually come with 4GB of RAM, which will be enough for some. Certain features and extras can also add to the cost of a new laptop. Buyers can avoid overpaying for a laptop by assessing what they need from a new device. For example, it is often not necessary to pay more for more than 8GB of RAM, which one? found that upping it to 16GB with a Macbook Air can cost £200.

Since many people now back up files and photos to the cloud, it might not be worth it to buy a laptop with a lot of storage potential. You save money by choosing a laptop with less internal storage and using free cloud storage, typically 15GB (Google Drive) or less. The Google One is available for around £1.59 a month for 100GB.

Watch: The Risks of Buying Now, Paying Later

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