Thinking of getting a new phone in 2017? DON’T – at least, not until you’ve read this, anyway…
The one question nearly all my friends and family ask me, aside from “what the hell are you doing with your life?”, is this: “I need a new phone, which one should I get!?”
I work in the business of reviewing phones, so, obviously, I am always their first port of call, either by phone, text or email. I don’t mind, though, not really. Phones are pretty confusing.
All the makes, the different models, and the pricing tiers, as well as ALL the contracts and CONSTANT marketing makes the act of choosing a new blower both confusing and daunting in equal parts.
This is basically why I decided to write this guide; it is designed to cut through the crap and help you distil what you want, precisely, from your next phone and, in the spirit of e-commerce, point you in the direction of some of the best potential offers and/or options around.
By the end, you will hopefully have a clearer view about what phone you want and why. Just be open-minded going into this; don’t be afraid about potentially getting a phone that ISN’T made by Apple.
There are tons of options out there and going one way could save you a lot of money which could be put to good use else where.
Right. Let’s do this.
Are You Already Locked Into Android or iOS?
If you use a smartphone, chances are it is either an iPhone of some sort or an Android phone. Google and Apple’s respective operating systems (the software on your phone) account for 90%+ of all phones used in the smartphone space – and these guys like to keep you in their ecosystem.
If you’ve been using either platform for X amount of years, you may have purchased music, films and TV shows and, in most cases, these cannot be accessed if you move platforms.
Therefore, if you’ve been a die hard Apple user for five years and have teraflops of music in Apple Music and hundreds of movies in iTunes, you’re probably better off staying put, as you simply won’t be able to get all of your content on anything other than an iPhone.
If you’re a floating voter – i.e. someone who uses both platforms, as I do, and aren’t tied-down to one way of doing things – then you’re able to flipflop between iOS and Android and go where the innovation or value is. Arguably, this is the best way to be as sometimes Apple has the best phone (iPhone 6 era) and sometimes it doesn’t (iPhone 7 era). Sometimes this does mean buying your content twice, however, or if you’re switching to one ecosystem or another on your main device, carting around another older one on the opposing platform just for viewing your content over there.
I like choice, so I never put all my eggs in one basket. I’ve been using the Pixel XL for the past 9 months or so because I believe it is better than the iPhone 7 Plus. Once the iPhone 8 lands, things might be different. Either way, I am open to the choice, so if you like choice this might be the way to go.
Price – Do You NEED A Flagship?
This is a big one. Do you really need to spend $1000 on a new phone (or lease one on contract from a network/carrier for around double that over 24 months)? You have to ask yourself what you’re ACTUALLY doing with the phone, as most modern flagships are built with INSANE specs that most people seldom take advantage of.
You could save hundreds by opting for a cheaper model, or an older model, for instance, and still get everything done that you need to. If you’re literally just using it for calls, texts, email and some web browsing, do yourself a favour and get an older model – the Galaxy S7 rather than the Galaxy S8, for instance, or the iPhone 6s Plus over the iPhone 7 Plus.
I guarantee most will never notice the difference. It is a con that you need to update your phone every year – even more so if you know how to jailbreak/root the device.
You Don’t HAVE To Buy An iPhone
Contrary to popular belief, there are many good phones that aren’t made by Apple. I know this might be hard to understand when everyone you know uses an iPhone, but it’s true: there are TONS of phones that are equal to and, in some cases, A LOT better than Apple’s iPhone.
Trust me, I’ve used most of them – iPhones included.
Can You Avoid Getting Locked Into A Contract?
If you can afford the expense of running the latest and greatest phone on contract, that’s great. Go, fill your boots. But if like most people you’re operating on a budget or are looking to save some money in 2017, it might be time to get creative with how you get your minutes and data.
Getting a phone on contract is like leasing a car: everybody does it, it’s just not all that smart because in the end you pay much more for the phone. This is how credit companies make money (networks too, for that matter).
So what do you do if you want out of this situation? Simple: you buy a phone outright, then shop around for the best possible, no strings attached, rolling monthly offer and/or deal.
I’d recommend you check out the following deals for the best rolling contracts around.
The upfront cost is more than usual, granted, but think about it this way: the phone is yours and you can do with it what you want. Not liking it three months down the line and fancy something new? No worries, just sell it and use the cash to buy a brand new phone. This is how smart people do phones.
Just make sure you keep it in good condition, or have insurance, and you’ll never lose money. Plus, rolling contracts are WAY CHEAPER than the usual blood-pacts networks demand on 24 month plans.
What’s Most Important To You?
Battery? The camera? Overall cost? You need to decide what you want from a phone and have clear objectives and ideas about how you’re going to be using it. Think about what you use most in your every day-to-day life already.
Most people don’t NEED a flagship, really, they just like having them for the prestige. This is why phones are marketed so heavily, they want you to think you need them and cannot live without all that new stuff.
Do you want it to have it all? If so, look at the flagships – these are always the best performers in all respects.
Phones like the OnePlus 3T, however, offer more or less the same (more in some cases) than these traditional flagships and for a considerable amount less. This is why the OnePlus 3T is sooooo hard to beat.
Then you have the sprawling ocean of mid-range Android phones to choose from – I have rounded-up 18 of the best in this article. All of the phones in this list are exceptional handsets, whether you’re talking about specs, imaging, battery life or overall performance.
Do You Even Need A Smartphone?
Do you only use your phone for making calls and sending text messages? If so, you might want to look at the Nokia 3310, which is a feature phone that has INSANE battery life (and not much else).
Plus it’ll only cost you 50 bucks.
Know The Right Time To Buy
NEVER buy a phone as soon as it comes out. That’s just stupid; you’ll pay the highest price going and, though you will have a shiny new phone, your finances won’t thank you.
Wait a few months, watch for phones that don’t sell well, as these will be heavily discounted. Case in point: the LG G5 was an exceptional phone that no one bought, so in the end retails started marking down the price. Six months later this £500 phone was retailing for £250 to £300.
And, yes, I’d still 100% recommend the LG G5.
Personally, if I didn’t have a fresh supply of phones coming across my desk month in, month out I would always opt for the previous year’s flagship; the iPhone 7 in 2017, the Galaxy S7 rather than the S8, the OnePlus 3T, once the OnePlus 5 launches. Again, I’m not saying buy a new phone every eyar – this is not a good call, but whenever you do need a refresh make sure to get last year’s best rather than whatever just hit the market. You get the idea.
Old Hardware, Doesn’t Mean Obsolete Hardware
Why? Simple, really: these modern things we call smartphones are exceptional pieces of technology. You don’t need to buy a brand new phone to get decent performance.
A “new” Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S6 will still feel like a new phone even if it isn’t the latest model. Phones get worn down by usage; buy an older model new and you will not experience this – these phones are future-proofed to the hilt!
Another, additional option is buying reconditioned.
The reconditioned route is a brilliant way of picking up a top of the line iPhone or Samsung phone (or a MacBook) for hundreds of dollars less. You can do this on eBay, of course, though I would always go with a reputable provider like Gazelle, as they only carry certified reconditioned units.
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