Getting a new smartphone: Buy now or wait?
Should I buy now or should I wait?
That’s a question we have become used to hearing from iPhone customers, as they wonder whether they should buy the current model or wait until the next version is released. And the question of when to buy is no longer confined to Apple admirers. Yesterday’s unveiling of the new Samsung Galaxy 4 had the tech community all abuzz, and reminded us that Apple is longer the only game in town when it comes to must-have devices.
So, if you are in the market for a new smartphone now, but the existing market leaders are likely to be superseded by next-generation versions within a few months, should you buy or should you wait? Let’s take a look at some of the factors you might want to think about before you make a decision:
Choose a carrier first and a phone second
A smartphone is only as good as the network it runs on. It’s no good waiting for the latest and greatest smartphone if it means switching providers and compromising performance. Our advice is always to select a carrier first and then look at the available hardware. Remember when the iPhone was only available on AT&T and there were countless complaints about poor reception? Don’t be sucked in by the ads until you know how the phone will perform in your area.
Operating system and screen size
Once you choose a carrier, the next two most important criteria are operating system and screen size. There is a world of difference between iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, and switching from one OS to another is like learning a new language. Think carefully whether you have the patience and time to make such a switch, and what impact that switch will have on all your other devices. As our worlds become more connected and cloud services more prevalent, we are starting to build our own individual tech ecosystems. Switching operating systems can have a profound impact on those ecosystems and our productivity at work and at home.
Similarly, constantly chasing after a bigger screen size is not always the right move. The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a wonderful smartphone but the 5.5-inch screen takes a lot of getting used to. It’s harder to hold, harder to slip into a jeans or jacket pocket, and almost impossible to use with one hand. When it comes to smartphones, size is definitely not everything!
Consider how you will use the phone
Apple’s Siri personal assistant feature was a huge talking point when the iPhone 4S first came out and no doubt accounted for millions of sales, as Apple showcased it in all its commercials and buyers decided they had to have the cool new feature. But how many people actually use Siri on a regular basis? Not many that we know. Select a phone based on the features that you will actually use, not the ones that the marketers use to sell the device. You will be a much more satisfied smartphone owner in the long run.
New phones mean more discounts
The release of a new smartphone often signals a fresh round of discounting of existing models. Although everyone’s attention is on the iPhone 5, you can now get an iPhone 4S for $99 and an iPhone 4 for nothing (both with two year contracts). These are still great phones, and would be wonderful starter phones for kids or anyone venturing into the smartphone world for the first time.
Similarly, when a brand new phone is coming out on a given network, check that carrier’s web site for discounts and special offers on existing models. Often there will be a clearance sale of earlier devices, offering real bargains on phones that are similar to the new models in terms of specs and quality.
Love the one you’re with
Finally, consider whether you actually need a new phone at all. Like leased cars, smartphones are built to last way beyond the two-year contract that they come with. With your own phone, you know what you have and there is no learning curve. Plus, holding on to a phone beyond the two-year contract puts you in a strong position with most carriers, making you a free agent and opening up all kinds of different offers.
As in other walks of life, it’s often the move you don’t make that can turn out to be the best move of all.