Less-known smartphone buying tips

Get a new smartphone? 4 Important Buying Tips You Don’t Think About

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


However, focusing only on tough specs may not help you make the best buying decisions. There are other tips that can help you get the best value for money while also getting a product that meets your needs.


4 Smartphone Buying Tips You May Be Missing

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

1. The old flagship or the new mid-range?

Given the choice of choice, most people will choose the latest smartphone instead of the old model. However, newer doesn’t necessarily mean better in the challenging world of smartphone marketing. So, what’s the better choice between an old flagship and a recently launched mid-range device?

Well, flagships are called flagships because of the specifications they pack. Old flagships can still deliver better overall performance than a new mid-range device. It can feature better camera, chipset and build quality.

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

The glass body of the Note 9 offered a more luxurious feel than the plastic accents on the A71. The Snapdragon 845 chipset in the Note 9 also beats the newer but less powerful Snapdragon 730 than the A71. Although the A71 comes with improved software and sensors for image processing, some additional camera features, such as the Note 9’s optical image stabilization, make it an offering worth considering.

It’s not just a Samsung thing. Even in the same year, both Xiaomi and Oppo had mid-range color phones that couldn’t beat their older counterparts. Oppo Find X 2018 still has a lot of advantages compared to 2020 Oppo Find X2 lite. Similarly, the mid-range 2020 Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite cannot match the 2018 Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.

This is nothing historical. It still happens. The 2022 Samsung Galaxy A53 is one of the best mid-range Android smartphones the money can get, but it still doesn’t have the premium features that the older Samsung flagship of 2020 – the Galaxy S20 Ultra – offers. The good part? You can find the S20 at significantly reduced prices two years after launch. However, this is by no means a blanket endorsement of the old flagships on the new mid-range devices. But it is definitely an option worth considering.

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

2. How much should you pay for a smartphone?

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

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

For smartphones priced between $250 and $350, a processor that can handle basic games and a fingerprint scanner is a must, unless you don’t need it. 4 GB of RAM should be the least 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 should target so-called pioneer killers with a budget of $350 to $500. With these devices, you can have a device that gives you a premium feel, as it relies on as many features of the flagship device as possible.

Smartphones priced between $500 and $700 should feature specifications that are among the best in the industry. Devices within this price point should come with an extra wow factor beyond the standard specs.

For anything over $700, you should aim for real leadership. Even though leading phone makers like Samsung and Apple often cross the $1000 mark, you can still find flagships from popular Chinese brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo that can hold their own at low prices.

However, it is essential to know that aside from a few exceptions, most flagships over $1,000 are overkill, and are usually packed with a lot of junk features. You can check out our step-by-step guide on how much you should pay for a smartphone to help you determine your price point.

Fear of unknown brands is an atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding them. With big names like Apple and Samsung, you get some semblance of quality assurance and durability. As a result, when you want to buy a new smartphone, you rarely think of smaller brands. But you are missing out.

If you are constrained on budget, then 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 brands have to offer at a much lower price.

Take the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, for example; It beats out the Galaxy S21 in a few performance metrics but retails for about half the price. No, it’s not necessarily the best device, but it does offer the best value for money. In a mid-range niche, the Xiaomi Note 10 beats the more popular Samsung Galaxy A53 but it sells for a much lower price as well.

Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo are major brands outside the US. So there is not much to be afraid of. But then, on tighter budgets, other little-known brands can offer great value for money with some durability guarantee.

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

4. Don’t follow reviews blindly

The review system is one of the best places to look for a smartphone. You’ll find entire websites and YouTube channels dedicated to smartphone reviews. Millions of people make buying decisions that are informed by what reviewers say.

However, it is necessary to look beyond the comments from smartphone reviewers. Although reviewers want to give honest opinions about a product, smartphone manufacturers sometimes get in the way. Companies have different ways of indirectly influencing reviews.

They deploy certain tactics to ensure that major smartphone reviewers either say very little or don’t review certain features of their product at all. These specific features may turn out to have influenced your decision not to purchase this product. Apart from this, they also use “review block”, which is a way to prevent smartphone reviewers from doing extensive review of certain products for a certain period. This time usually takes long enough to ship a large unit of product.

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

In return, they can give an honest review of their product, but with some caveats, such as, for example, obeying a review ban. No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust comments, far from it. However, it may also be wise to look for real-life reviews from colleagues who have used the product. This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to buy a smartphone a few weeks after its release.

Look beyond the spec sheet

A smartphone spec sheet is a great place to take a look at how the phone will perform. However, when it comes to making a balanced buying decision, there is a lot involved.

To get a smartphone that meets your needs at the best possible price, you’ll need to consider the less talked-about questions we’ve shared in this article.

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