AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Upgrading your phone is no longer as simple as paying $100 or $200 and extending your service contract by two years.

Phone companies have been shifting away from contracts and trying to get you to pay full price _ $600 to $700 for a high-end phone. Installment plans are available, along with a leasing option from Sprint.

To understand your options, it’s best to break down the typical monthly phone bill into three components:

_ The cost of the phone, which can be the monthly installment, or zero for a traditional contract plan.

_ A per-phone “access” charge for unlimited voice and texts. With contract plans, you’re paying $40 to connect a smartphone. With full-price or leasing plans, you’re paying $15 or $25. That sounds like a deal, but you’re paying more for the phone itself.

_ The data bucket, typically sharable if you’re part of a group plan. This charge varies depending on how much data you need, but it’s not affected by how you buy your phone. (At T-Mobile, access and data is a combined charge.)

Are you better off with a contract plan knowing you pay less for the phone but more in service fees?