If it’s time to buy a new phone, a highly rated model may be much cheaper than you think. Here are some strategies you can use to find a phone that won’t drain your wallet.
Buy an older version. Buying a new phone from an older generation can be a great way to save money, especially if you have an expensive Apple or Samsung device at heart.
For example, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G started at $699 when it launched in fall 2020. But now you can pick one up for around $600. Although it has fewer camera tricks and is slightly heavier than the S21 FE, the S20 FE is still highly rated.
Better yet, says Fisco, you don’t necessarily sacrifice a lot when you buy a model that’s a year or two old, because manufacturers aren’t adding much-needed features with each new upgrade. “A few years ago, smartphones were evolving rapidly, adding multiple features with each new generation,” says Fisco. “This is no longer the case.”
Although the screens on this year’s phones are a bit sharper and the processors a bit faster, you might not want to spend a few hundred extra dollars on these features, says Tuong Nguyen, the company’s principal principal analyst. Gartner technology research. “For the typical consumer, these differences are imperceptible.”
According to data from Decluttr, a platform for buying and selling electronic gadgets and other items, the prices of older smartphones drop when a new model comes out. Major phone makers tend to release new models around the same time every year, so you can plan ahead. Samsung typically unveils phones in early spring and late summer, and Apple announces its new offerings in March and September.
Consider all brands. Apple and Samsung are the biggest names in the smartphone industry, but they’re not the only companies making great phones. Google, OnePlus, and Sony also make premium models with cutting-edge displays, fast processors, and excellent battery life.
Buying one of these can save you a lot if you’re willing to ditch the more popular brands and settle for slightly less stellar camera performance and maybe a plastic body.
“The most expensive phones don’t always give you the best bang for your buck,” says Fisco. “An intermediate model can provide many people with everything they need. Figure out what features you want in your next phone, then compare models that have those features side by side.
Can’t live without an OLED screen? Take a look at Apple’s $800 iPhone 13 and $800 Samsung Galaxy S21, but don’t overlook the $250 OnePlus 8, which scores highly in CR’s tests. It has a 6.6-inch OLED display and triple rear cameras, providing much of what you get in phones that cost more than double.
Want a long lasting battery? The $1,100 iPhone 13 Pro Max tops the charts with just over 52 hours of juice, but the $180 OnePlus Nord N100 is a close second, with just over 48 hours of battery life.