Companies like Apple, Google and Samsung are constantly working to improve and innovate cell phones. They often hold annual events to introduce the latest and greatest models. New features like cameras, screen sizes and processors are all usually exciting improvements, and they seem to make our current phones obsolete.
But do you really need to rush out and order the newest phone on the market?
Read This Before You Buy a New Cell Phone
Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about purchasing a new phone.
New cell phones can cost thousands of dollars. Here’s a look at the prices of some of the latest models from popular brands:
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro: $999
- Google Pixel 6 Pro: $899
- Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G: $774.99
If you don't need the latest and greatest model, there are still a lot of options. For example, Apple's iPhone SE (2nd generation) starts at $399. When you compare models, the features of the older phone aren't as robust.
But there’s a big difference between paying $399 and $999, so you should compare the features of the two phones before you make the leap. Do you really need all the new whistles and bells?
If you are under a contract with a carrier, you’ll find that the company will push you to buy a new phone when the contract is up, typically every year or two.
I recommend always buying an unlocked phone: one not tied to any specific carrier. This allows you to move to a different carrier at any time. I am always looking for a better cell phone plan and like to be able to move around without having to buy a new phone each time.
You probably want to consider buying a new phone when your current phone is no longer safe. Is the operating system on your phone still able to receive the most current software updates?
Many of the software updates address security vulnerabilities and performance issues. If you can no longer update it, your phone is vulnerable. Most phones get security updates for 3-4 years, but you want to check with the manufacturer to find out.
After a few years, you may notice that your phone has slowed down. The touch screen is not as responsive as it used to be, and certain hardware is no longer working. Also, some apps just won’t run on older phones. When these things start to happen, it may be time to purchase a new phone.
You may think that new features make a new phone worthwhile, but are they worth the cost? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you buy your next phone.
How Do You Primarily Use Your Phone?
Do you use your phone mostly for talking and texting? If so almost any current smartphone would be adequate for you. If on the other hand, you use it to take a lot of pictures, you will want to look for something with a good camera. If you watch a lot of video content or play games on your phone, you will want a phone that has a processor, memory and graphics card that work well for those types of activities. Screen size, brightness and clarity will also be important.
If you use your home for both personal and business purposes, you may need dual SIM support. If your employer’s IT department offers support for your phone, does it support only certain phones or models? Physical features such as voice quality, speaker quality, camera quality may all be important depending on the type of work you do.
How Long Do You Need Your Battery To Last?
Battery life will be important to almost all users. Our phones go with us everywhere, and we need enough battery life to get us through the day without worrying about our phone dying.
The average phone lasts for about 10 hours, but some models are designed to last longer on a single charge.
How Fast Do You Need It To Run?
Processor speed is important even when not playing games or watching videos. It can be frustrating when even simple tasks seem to take forever. You don’t need to go with the best processor on the market, but don’t waste your money on the lowest-end processor either. Look for something in the mid-range (or above) and read reviews before making a final decision.
Along with the processor, Random-Access Memory (RAM) determines the speed of your phone.
How Much Storage Do You Need?
Decide how much storage space you need. While some users can get by on very little space, others require a lot.
Some phones come with an expandable storage option which allows you to add additional storage using a card slot. Much of our data is stored on the cloud, so that feature is less common now but not all cloud storage is free. Decide how much space you need before purchasing a new phone.
Display, Camera, Audio: What Kind of Quality Do You Need?
Screen display is also important to some users. Look for something with a higher resolution. Even some less expensive phones have very good resolution.
Most modern phones have decent cameras. That should be a consideration if you like to take photos and videos or use your camera to scan, video chat or conference.
Audio and speaker quality is important for users who listen to music and podcasts, watch videos or participate in video chats and conferences. Phones vary widely here so read some reviews before deciding.
Do You Need a Headphone Jack?
Headphone jack options are something else to consider.
Some users want the option to add a set of headphones using a jack. Many new phone models, including the Apple iPhone 13, no longer offer a headphone jack. Instead, you’d need to purchase a Bluetooth headphone set. Remember to build that into your cost if the phone you want doesn’t have a jack.
Tips To Spend Less on a New Cell Phone
Here are some tips to save money on your next phone purchase.
- Try last year's model. When a new model is released, the price of the previous model will drop. Wait for those times to shop around and look at different prices. Last year's flagship phone is often only slightly different than the current model. So you may be able to get a better quality phone at a reduced price.
- Shop at the right time. You can often find great bargains when shopping during the holiday season. Retail events such as Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also good times to shop for a phone.
- Consider a refurbished phone. While it may not be brand new, it's still new to you. Refurbished smartphones from reputable vendors usually come with new batteries, and some come with a warranty. They are factory reset and cleared of any data.
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