Before Splurging on a New iPhone or Android Consider These Things

Before Splurging on a New iPhone or Android Consider These Things

The best phones you can buy right now, like the iPhone 14 Prothe Google Pixel 7 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, offers all the features you could possibly want. From their excellent performance, amazing camera systems and a variety of extra features, these top phones represent the pinnacle of mobile technology. So it’s not surprising that these premium phones also come with sky-high prices to match. The sheer cost of these devices means they are out of reach for many of us, or simply unnecessary if you just need a solid device for your everyday essentials.

The sheer number of choices from a variety of phone manufacturers should make shopping simple, but sometimes it makes it more confusing, whether you’re looking for the highest quality, elite phone or a more affordable phone like the Google Pixel 6A. The best devices on the market not only have different prices, but also different camera specifications, screen sizes and storage capacities.

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To help you cut through some of the jargon and spend your money wisely, I’ve put together my tips for buying a phone in 2022.

How to buy a new phone: Top tips for phone buying

  • Know what you care about most: Is it screen size? Camera quality? Battery life? This will help you narrow down your choices. Phones like the iPhone 14 Pro or Pixel 7 Pro, for example, pack incredible cameras that almost rivals the quality you’d get from a DSLR. If you are a photographer, it is a good idea to spend money here. If not, you can probably save yourself a bundle.
  • Don’t discount the middle ground: Features from last year’s flagships always trickle down to this year’s midrange devices. You can get a great phone that does almost everything a premium phone can do for a fraction of the price. Google’s Pixel 7 Pro packs a great zoom camera, but the base Pixel 7 has most of the same key specs and comes at a more reasonable price.
  • Shop the sales: Look for big discounts and promotional offers around major holidays, especially Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday. And find out what your grace period is in case you need a quick return or exchange.
  • Last year’s phones: They can often be many too. Wait for this year’s launch to get last year’s phone for less, when stores and carriers may be trying to unload their existing inventory.
  • Hold the phone at a store first: You may love or hate the way it looks and feels in person.
  • Check if you have already invested: Have you bought a lot of iPhone apps and iTunes movies? Stick with an iPhone if you still want access to it. Likewise, if you’ve invested in a lot of Android apps, you’ll want to stay on that side of the fence. Otherwise it’s simple enough to link platforms.
  • Buy a case and screen protector: You’ll protect your phone from costly damage and increase the phone’s resale or trade-in value for when you’re ready to move on.
Oneplus 9 phone plugged into a charging cable

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Smartphone performance vs budget

In general, performance is in line with cost. The very latest, greatest technology usually comes at a premium. Flagship phones pack the best cameras, the most powerful processors and can even boast technology like flexible displays. The high prices mean that these phones are only worth considering for those who want the absolute latest technology in their pocket.

However, not everyone needs such top technology, or may simply be unwilling to spend the $1,000 or more usually required to get it. Fortunately, the mid-range sector of the phone world has been one of the fiercest battlegrounds for companies to compete in, resulting in some great phones that won’t break the bank. Features like wireless charging and multi-lens cameras that were once the domain of flagships are now common on midrange phones.

Even budget phones will still offer decent camera quality and enough power for you to enjoy all your everyday web browsing, WhatsApp and Instagram.

4G or 5G?

5G is the latest standard that promises lightning-fast mobile data speeds when you’re on the go. Like any new technology, it’s common to see it on higher-end devices, but it’s also increasingly common to find it on much more affordable phones as well.

Coverage for 5G isn’t everywhere yet, so it’s important to ask yourself if you need 5G speeds at all and, in particular, if they’re available where you live. If you plan to keep your phone for at least a few years, you can safely expect 5G to become more of the norm during that time. If you’re on the fence about it now, you may feel differently in nine months and may regret not taking the plunge sooner.

Hand holding a smartphone with street and glass buildings in the background.

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Screen size

All phones have steadily gotten bigger in recent years, with the iPhone 14 Pro Max measuring a whopping 6.68 inches and the Galaxy S22 Ultra coming in at 6.8 inches. Small phones are not so common anymore, but there are a few options to consider if you don’t want a massive screen stretching your pockets.

Apple chose not to update the iPhone 13 Mini this year, but it’s still officially available for purchase through the Apple Store and, at 5.4 inches, it’s considerably smaller than the 6.1-inch iPhone 14. On the Android side is the Google Pixel 6A’s 6.1-inch screen makes it one of the better smaller phones, but even then it’s hardly what you’d call small.

Two smartphones.

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Camera performance

Camera features have been a major point for bragging rights in recent phones, with manufacturers always wanting a bigger, more exciting number, whether it’s the number of megapixels or the amount of actual camera lenses. Triple rear cameras are now common – a regular lens, an ultra-wide lens and a telephoto lens – with even budget-oriented phones packing multiple cameras.

This is great, as more lenses mean more shooting options when you’re on the go. But that doesn’t mean any multi-lens camera is as good as another. As with processor performance, the more you spend, the better the results you’ll typically get, with the absolute best cameras usually found on the most expensive flagships.

Galaxy S20 phone

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Look out for features like optical (rather than digital) zooms, night mode for better low-light images, and optical image stabilization. Sometimes these features may not be obvious, and it is not possible to judge a camera’s performance just by looking at the specifications. If you really care about your phone’s photography skills, then take some time to check out the reviews and see how its camera performs before spending your money.

Battery life

Most phones, from budget to elite flagships, can last most of a day on a single charge. Bigger phones may have bigger batteries, but they also have bigger screens and often more powerful processors, so they suck up that extra juice quickly. Few phones will give you more than a day’s use. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always plan to charge your phone overnight.
  • Look for features like fast charging, which allows your phone to take on a lot of power in a short amount of time. However, check if your phone comes with a compatible faster charger, as an old USB plug may not support it.
  • Your battery will last longer if you avoid more demanding tasks like gaming or video streaming. Keeping the screen brightness low will also help.
iPhone 12 pro max

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Processor performance

Top-end phones pack powerful processors along with typically up to 12GB of RAM. That’s enough to get these phones through any task without breaking a sweat, but you don’t need to spend flagship money to get great performance.

Most decent midrange phones offer enough power to handle all your everyday needs. You will still be able to play almost any game from the Google Play Store and edit your high-resolution photos in apps like Snapseed. There’s little you can throw at most midrange phones they won’t be able to handle.

As you move towards the budget end of the spectrum, that’s when you’ll start to notice some slowdown with things like games. More demanding 3D games may stutter more and may even quit unexpectedly. However, basic tasks like sending emails, listening to Spotify and browsing Instagram shouldn’t be a problem.

How much phone storage do you need?

Most phones, even the budget ones, have at least 32 GB of storage, 10 of which can be taken up by pre-installed apps and the phone’s operating system. If you never plan on recording any video and gaming isn’t your thing, 32GB might be enough, but otherwise you should consider 64GB or even 128GB as a minimum.

Oneplus 9 Pro smartphone

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Higher-end phones – especially those capable of recording high-quality 4K video – offer capacities of 256GB or more. With so much space, you’ll hardly have to think twice about deleting old files.

If the phone supports microSD cards, that’s a different matter, as you can pick up 32GB microSD cards (or larger) for very little money these days and popping one into your phone will increase the amount of storage you have access to. access will have increased dramatically.

Bonus features

Many of these features are now common on phones at various price points and are worth keeping in mind when shopping.

  • Fingerprint scanner or face lock: A scanner can be on the back, or even invisibly built into the screen. Biometric security, as it is called, is more secure than remembering a PIN.
  • Water resistant: Do you often take calls in the rain? Look for a phone with at least an IP67 rating to keep it safe from water and spilled drinks.
  • Wireless charging: It’s available on many phones, with some now offering faster wireless charging speeds, as long as you use a compatible charging pad.

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