Have you noticed it’s getting harder for non-geeks (maybe even geeks) to buy smartphones? Read on for some smart buying tips.
Before the iPhone, non-geeks patiently waited for their two-year carrier contracts to expire. Then many, if not all, upgraded to a fancier feature phone with a larger display, more memory and a better browser. Meanwhile, geeks were first in line for the Moto RAZR, while non-geeks shuddered in horror that anyone would pay $500 for a mobile phone.
Well, that’s changed quickly, hasn’t it? The best smartphones now retail for $500-$700 making Moto’s price for the RAZR in 2004 seem cheap.
Now that higher-priced Android phones are giving Apple a run for its money, it’s challenging to choose a top smartphone, especially with consumer demand for better devices soaring. Fortunately, Geek.com has come to the rescue. In its Smartphone Buying Article, you’ll find descriptions of mobile smartphone features (email, multimedia, apps, operating system, camera, storage, battery, phone design, keyboard, LCD/Touchscreen, radio type (CDMA vs. GSM) and buying tips.
Although the article is somewhat dated, it nicely summarizes features buyers should consider before taking out their credit cards. I’ve listed some additional buying tips below to help you buy the right smartphone:
- Avoid the “Swiss army knife syndrome.” Don’t get bedazzled by high-end phones with lots of mobile phone features: Super high resolution cameras, 1Ghz Snapdragon processors, 32 gig memory chips and screen resolutions comparable to your HD TV. Unless you intend to ditch your digital camera, give your personal computer to the Salvation Army and chain the smartphone to your body 24/7, you’re paying a lot in terms of money and time (your initial cost plus your time investment learning how to use your phone’s features).
- Think about which features are most important to you. Take just a few pictures a week that you download to your laptop or send to friends? Then you don’t need an 8 megapixel camera. In fact, many phones with 3-5 megapixel cameras produce photos of excellent quality. Make a lot of phone calls instead of surfing the Web at 3G speeds? Do a smartphone comparison for call quality and check the coverage area. iPhone owners aren’t the only mobile users irritated by dropped calls. Cell phone dropped calls plague most users and carriers.
- Choose a BlackBerry if you mostly use your phone for email and messaging. Don’t be swayed by friends or sales people who insist you buy a Samsung Galaxy superphone because the Amoled screen is so cool. RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones are designed for security, durability and…yes….email. Plus BB’s offer loud and clear voice quality with excellent QWERTY keyboards intended for writing. I’m always amazed when I hear from business associates who own iPhones: “Sorry, I’m traveling for a few days and will have limited email capability.” Face it, typing emails is a pain in the _____ on touch screen phones.
- Ignore the “We Got Apps” Pitch. Did you notice how Apple shut up about the lack of Android apps when the number passed 50,000? (It’s now 80,000 plus.). Is smartphone software important? Absolutely. Do you need 300,000 of them? No. Nielsen, in fact, just released a study revealing that the average smartphone owner uses 27 apps. iPhone folks load 40 apps and BlackBerry consumers only 14. (No mention of apps for a windows mobile smartphone.) So unless you absolutely must have that zoology app that tracks elephant eating patterns, ignore the “we got apps” commercials.
- Save money by buying a new or used smartphone on the Internet. In Europe, many mobile consumers buy their own GSM phones and SIM’s to lower wireless carrier per minute costs. U.S. carriers, however, continue subsidizing handsets and requiring two-year contracts regardless of phone cost. To avoid contracts, consumers find excellent pricing on new phones and great deals on slightly used smartphones. Sprint’s HTC EVO, its first 4G smartphone nearly impossible to find in a Sprint store, is available right now online. You’ll find 350 new and used EVO’s on eBay. By carefully reviewing seller feedback and listing information, buyers can save hundreds of dollars off retail and avoid carrier contracts buying virtually any cell phone.
Whether you’re a non-geek or not, check out the buying tips and information in the smartphone guide and consider my recommendations. You’ll choose the right smartphone for you while saving hundreds of dollars.