Getting a new smartphone? 4 Important Buying Tips You’re Not Thinking About

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re in the market for a new smartphone. There’s camera quality, battery capacity, charging speed and a range of other phone specs that are often talked about.

However, dwelling only on strict specifications may not help you make the best purchasing decisions. There are other tips that can help you get the best bang for your buck while getting a product that meets your needs.

4 Smartphone Buying Tips You’re Probably Missing

Below, we’ve rounded up some less-talked-about shopping tips to help you make the best decision when you’re next in the market for a new smartphone.

1. Old flagship or new mid-range?

Given the option to choose, most people would choose the latest smartphone over an older model. However, newer doesn’t necessarily mean better in the tricky world of smartphone marketing. So what’s the best option between an older flagship and a recently launched mid-range device?

Well, flagships are called flagships because of the specs they contain. Older flagships might still offer better overall performance than a new mid-range device. It could feature a better camera, better chipset, and better build quality.

For example, in 2020, after the launch of the mid-range Samsung Galaxy A71, the 2018 Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was always a more tempting option. With a budget of $400, you can get the new Galaxy A71 or the old Note 9 from eBay for a similar price. But how did the two phones stack up?

The Note 9’s glass body offered a more premium feel than the A71’s plastic finish. The Note 9’s Snapdragon 845 chipset also outperformed the newer but less powerful Snapdragon 730 in the A71. Although the A71 comes with improved image processing software and sensors, a few additional camera features, like optical image stabilization on the Note 9, made it a deal breaker. Worth to be considered.

It’s not just a Samsung thing. Even in the same year, Xiaomi and Oppo had colorful midrange phones that couldn’t beat their older flagship counterparts. The Oppo Find X 2018 still had a lot of advantages over the Oppo Find X2 lite 2020. Likewise, the mid-range Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite 2020 couldn’t compete with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 2018 .

It’s not a historical thing; it still happens. The Samsung Galaxy A53 2022 is one of the best mid-range Android smartphones you can get, but it still doesn’t offer the high-end features that Samsung’s former 2020 flagship, the Galaxy S20 Ultra. The good part? You can find the S20 at significantly reduced prices two years after its launch. However, this is by no means a blanket endorsement of older flagships over newer mid-range devices. But it’s definitely a choice worth considering.

Nevertheless, the gap between mid-range devices and flagship devices is narrowing. Features deemed too expensive to deploy on mid-range phones are gradually appearing on mid-range devices. Also, with newer midrange devices, you’re likely to get better batteries, camera software, and longer software support. You can read our detailed comparison between new mid-range phones and older flagship phones if you need more guidance on the subject.

2. How much should you pay for a smartphone?

In an era when smartphones have crossed the thousand dollar mark, how much should you pay for a smartphone?

For a budget under $250, you should expect a low-end device that can comfortably handle the basics. Durability must be guaranteed. However, don’t expect NFC, wireless charging, or water resistance. Additionally, you may have to deal with a CPU with a huge performance gap, as well as less RAM and internal storage.

For $250-$350 smartphones, a processor that can handle basic games and a fingerprint reader are a must, unless you don’t need them. 4 GB of RAM should be the minimum you should accept, but ideally it should be higher. At least 128GB of storage is ideal for this budget range, but that’s not always the case.

You have to aim for the so-called flagship killers for a budget of 350 to 500 dollars. With these devices, you get a device that offers a premium feel, adopting as many features from a flagship device as possible.

Smartphones in the $500 to $700 range are expected to feature some of the best specs in the industry. Devices in this price range should come with an added cool factor beyond the standard specs.

For anything over $700, you should aim for true flagships. Although flagships from phone makers like Samsung and Apple typically top the $1,000 mark, you’ll still find flagships from popular Chinese brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo that can hold their own at lower prices.

However, it’s essential to know that with few exceptions, most flagships over $1,000 are overkill, usually packed with lots of unimportant features. You can check out our in-depth guide on how much you should pay for a smartphone to help you figure out your price.

The fear of little-known brands is the air of uncertainty that surrounds them. With big names like Apple and Samsung, you get some semblance of quality and durability guarantees. Therefore, whenever you want to buy a new smartphone, you rarely think of the smaller brands. But you are missing something.

If your budget is limited, brands like Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo will undoubtedly offer the best value for money. With them, you can get most of what the big name flagships offer at a significantly lower price.

Take the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, for example; it obliterates the Galaxy S21 in a few performance metrics but retails for nearly half the price. No, it’s not necessarily the best device, but it offers by far the best value for money. In the mid-range niche, the Xiaomi Note 10 outperforms the more popular Samsung Galaxy A53, but also sells for a significantly lower price.

Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo are considered mainstream brands outside the United States. So there’s not much to worry about. But then, with even tighter budgets, other little-known brands can offer excellent value for money with some assurance of durability.

So when you want a new smartphone, don’t just think of the iPhone 13 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22, or maybe the Pixel 6A. There’s the phenomenal Nubia Redmagic 7S Pro which can handle intense gaming, the Oppo Reno 8 Pro which offers excellent value for money, and the Vivo V23 with impressive selfie cameras.

4. Don’t blindly follow reviews

One of the best places to look for a smartphone is the review platform. You’ll find entire websites and YouTube channels dedicated to smartphone reviews. Millions of people make informed buying decisions based on what reviews have to say.

However, it is essential to look beyond the reviews of smartphone reviewers. Although testers want to give honest opinions about a product, sometimes smartphone manufacturers intervene. Companies have different ways of indirectly influencing reviews.

They deploy certain tactics to ensure that leading smartphone reviewers either say too little or don’t review certain features of their product at all. These particular characteristics may have influenced your decision not to buy this product. Apart from that, they also use “review embargoes”, a way to prevent smartphone reviewers from thoroughly reviewing certain products for a certain period of time. This time usually lasts just long enough for them to ship a sizable unit of the product.

This way, even if a smartphone has bad reviews, it has already shipped a lot. If you’re wondering how manufacturers can wield so much power over reviews, you’re not alone. One of the ways they do this is by offering free samples of their products to reviewers, sometimes weeks before they go on sale.

In exchange, they can give an honest review of their product, but with some caveats, like, for example, obeying a review embargo. No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust reviews, far from it. However, it might be wiser to also seek out real-world reviews from peers who have used the product. This is one of the reasons why it makes sense to buy a smartphone a few weeks after its release.

Look beyond the spec sheet

A smartphone’s spec sheet is a great place to get an overview of the phone’s performance. However, when it comes to making a balanced buying decision, there’s a lot more to it.

To get a smartphone that meets your needs at the best possible price, you will have to consider the questions that we have not talked about so much that we have shared in this article.

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