I also only ever buy them outright as I think it is cheaper in the long run to do this, and I agree with what Vee has said -I much prefer to choose my own (low) plan than be with the same people for 2 or 3 years.
Definitely bought outright,and UNLOCKED as well!! This is an emergency phone only,not something I have joined at my hip!!! It gets used so very rarely,that I like total control over which provider to go with.
I still have a "dumb" phone and on a low plan, it was purchased outright. It is still good enough for texting and phone calls and it can receive photos (???) It is useful to have in my pocket. I use it more now since I no longer work, but not to any detriment where it has CONSUMED me!
We bought our phones, they got a NO plan from Vodafone, many years ago. We mostly spend under $5 a month, so that will then be moved onto the next month, or until it reaches over $5! We have never bothered having Apps either, although I don't know if that would make any difference.