Several consumer surveys have shown that people are keeping hold of their smartphones for longer than just a few years ago. According to CNBC, the average age of a smartphone is now over 26 months, that’s three months longer than just a couple of years ago. In the UK, consumers are waiting even longer to upgrade, with Brits keeping a smartphone for almost 28 months, on average, before replacing it.
This is great news for environmentalists who are concerned that the minerals and precious metals that go into smartphones and the energy required in their production are damaging the environment.
It also means that anyone looking to buy a smartphone now is likely going to be making a much bigger commitment today than they were three years ago.
Factors like battery life, ease of use, and to what degree the mobile device is “future-proofed” all become much more important.
So if you’re looking to buy a new smartphone this Black Friday, here are some of the factors you should consider.
Just a few years ago, the Apple App Store and Google Play Store often varied wildly in terms of the apps on offer and their quality. Companies often put more resources into developing their iPhone apps than their Android, which meant many Android users had to go without.
That isn’t so much the case today, with most popular apps seeing releases in both marketplaces. Everything from social media apps, like Facebook to productivity apps like Trello, are all available on both ecosystems.
Even in games where there is the largest disparity, you’ll find compatible apps regardless of your device. For example, PokerStars, Candy Crush Saga, and Call of Duty: Mobile each have apps for both iOS and Android.
With that said, there are still many apps that are exclusive to one operating system or another. The gaming subscription service Apple Arcade has propelled this trend over the last couple of years.
There are many games released exclusively for Apple Arcade, such as Mini Motorways, Agent Intercept, and Assemble With Care.
Therefore, it’s important to check if the apps you want to use are available for the device you plan to buy.
The old adage of “buy cheap, buy twice” certainly applies to smartphones. Handsets that cost just a couple of hundred dollars are usually cheap for a reason. To keep costs down, manufacturers typically fill them with under-powered components.
A cheap phone may work for a while, but over time it will struggle to keep up with new operating system updates and apps. You may also find it has a smaller battery capacity, meaning you’ll be charging it more often.
If you do almost nothing on your phone but make calls and check your emails, then a cheap phone may be all you need.
However, if you plan to do anything else, buying a more expensive phone will likely be the way to go.
Not convinced? A flagship smartphone (provided you don’t drop it) will typically last a minimum of four years. A cheaper one will most likely be obsolete in two. Therefore, if a $300 phone lasts two years and a $500 phone lasts four, buying once is the cheaper option.
Most modern flagship smartphones all have the same features and there can be little setting them apart. There is one area where this isn’t the case though: the camera.
Now, if all you want to do is take great holiday photos and share them with friends, the camera on any smartphone sold today will be good enough.
But if you really enjoy photography, then getting a smartphone with a great camera may be something you want to do.
The “Pro” versions of the iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy S20, and OnePlus 8 have incredible wide-angle lenses, ultra-wide-angle lenses, and telephoto lenses with optical zoom, which mean you can zoom in and out without the image being distorted.
Of course, a DSLR camera will always be better, but a skilled photographer can do a lot with a modern smartphone.