Cellular phones are heavily subsidized by the carriers, who make back their investment on monthly billing, data plans and a variety of other fees, charges and options. That takes time, so carriers typically offer larger subsidies on longer contracts. However, sometimes you might want to simply buy a capable phone, like a BlackBerry, and not take on the obligation of a carrier's contract. It's not difficult, though your upfront cost can be higher.
1Ditching the Contract:There are many reasons to not want a contract with your Blackberry. You might have an existing contract but need to replace a lost or broken phone. If your need for a high-end phone is sporadic, seasonal or unpredictable, committing to a long-term contract might be unnecessarily expensive. This is especially true if you're uncertain how your usage pattern will develop. If your plan is too small, you might pay heavily for overuse. If it's too heavy, you'll pay for features, minutes or data you don't use. Either way, it's often best to spend at least a few months on a pre-paid or monthly service before committing to a longer contract.
2Prepaid BlackBerries:A variety of carriers offer phones on a prepaid basis, including BlackBerries. These phones are still subsidized, though less so than contract-based phones. This means your initial cost is lower than it would be to buy a phone outright. Most prepaid carriers base their plans on a per-minute basis, with preset charges for voice, text and data usage. Plans can be topped up with a phone call or online, or by purchasing an airtime card at an electronics retailer. However, prepaid carriers often restrict smartphones to preset monthly data plans. It's sometimes better to get a no-contract monthly plan from a conventional carrier.
3Unactivated Models:If you want to buy a phone outright, the full range of BlackBerry Bold, Curve and Torch models can be purchased unactivated from most retailers, including the latest 3G and 4G LTE models. These can be useful for replacing a lost or broken phone on your existing contract, or getting the latest features when you're not eligible for an upgrade. They can also be activated on a month-by-month basis, since the carrier hasn't subsidized its purchase and doesn't need to insist on a contract. It's best to choose your carrier beforehand, then purchase a BlackBerry that's set up for that carrier with an appropriate SIM card.
4Buying Options:There are several places to buy a BlackBerry without a contract. Reputable brick-and-mortar retailers are often a strong choice, because they've paid to have the phones in stock and are motivated to ensure that they sell. Most also have an online presence, allowing you to purchase models that aren't available in-store. You can also buy privately, though this is riskier unless you know the seller. If you should purchase a non-working or stolen phone, you'll have no easy means of redress.