It seems like newer, "better" smartphones are being released every other day.
It's confusing before you even get to the price tag.
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Do You Really Need a Brand New Android Phone?
The first thing to consider, when looking at a new phone, is if you really need one. A new, expensive phone with all the bells and whistles can make your old phone look obsolete. That may not necessarily be the case, however - while new phones obviously come with improvements, the improvements may not necessarily justify the price, especially if your current phone is working just fine.
A good example of this is Android's more popular smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy series. The newest generation is out, but does it really offer much more than the generation before? Let's compare the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8:
- Size - The S9 is a little bigger, and therefore has great drop protection, as well as a thicker glass display.
- Headphone Jack - Both phones still have one, unlike many models these days.
- Memory - While both phones offer expandable storage with a microSD card, the S9 has one perk over the S8 - it's compatible with a 400GB card.
- Fingerprint Sensor - The S9 fingerprint sensor has been sensibly moved to the front, a vast improvement over the placement on the back with the S8.
- Display - The display changes are hardly existent, with the biggest difference between a 20% brighter screen on the S9.
- Camera - For all the "improvements," the Samsung S9 went backward with its camera. It offers easy switching between well-lit and low-light photos but removed the portrait mode.
- Security - The S9 comes with 'Intelligent Scan', which works by combining facial recognition and iris scanning.
- Battery - Capacity and battery life remain the same, both have fast wired and wireless charging.
- Software - As the S8 is still compatible with current Android software updates, the S9 doesn't offer much more.
Consider A Used/Refurbished Android Phone
Unlike the iPhone series, "Android" offers a wide variety of phones, including the Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel.
This leaves you with a lot more options when you're shopping around. And now you're faced with a question - do you want to pony up the money for a brand new phone? Or save and go for a used phone?
- Refurbished: A pre-owned phone that's been repaired, inspected, and is being resold by a third-party site.
- Used: A pre-owned phone being sold by its owner on sites such as eBay or Craig's List. May have a little wear and tear but are fully operational.
Key Benefits Of Buying a Refurbished Phone
Worrying over something used can be natural, but compared to the benefits, it's worth it:
- Price: Used and refurbished phones cost a lot less than a new one.
- Returns and Warranties: Some sites that sell refurbished phones, such as Decluttr, offer warranties up to 12 months.
- Insurance: Still an option with used devices.
- Functionality: The same as new phones, though might lack some bells and whistles.
- Compatibility: You can get an unlocked phone that can be used with any carrier.
You've probably heard of the "Big Four" carriers - T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. With a cheap, unlocked android cell phone, you get more freedom to go with the carrier you want, rather than being locked into a carrier you have no experience with or have experience with and hate. An unlocked phone will still work on the carrier of your choosing, but it works best on the carrier it started out on.
There are two different networks between the Big Four - T-Mobile and AT&T on GSM, and Verizon and Sprint on (CDMA). So, for example, a GSM unlocked phone will work on the CDMA network as long as it has 4G coverage, but you may get no service if you're, say, in the middle of rural Oklahoma and have no 4G signal. So it's best to keep a GSM phone with a GSM carrier.
Check out our guide, if you want to know how to unlock your own phone.
How To Get The Best Price On An Unlocked Phone
Wondering how to get the best price on an unlocked phone? We've done the work for you. Here are reviews for the best sites to buy a used phone.
Be sure to check out our comparison tool to ensure you get the best price on a used phone.
Consider Switching to an MVNO
Low-cost carriers, such as Text Now or Tello, piggyback off the cell towers of the "big four" and offer significantly cheaper cell phone plans. They are also month-to-month payments, which can be canceled at any time, meaning you can have a cheap iPhone without a contract.
Most MVNOs work entirely online, rather than operating out of a store, which means you can get a new phone plan without having to leave the comfort of your home. If you like the network you're on, but don't want to pay the prices, you have options.
- While the idea of a new phone can be appealing, the differences between generations are sometimes too small that it's not worth the cash.
- There are plenty of cheap smartphones for sale if you're in the market for something new but have a price range.
- Unlocked phones offer for more freedom in carriers.
- Consider switching to a prepaid cell phone plan to save even more money.