Every smartphone manufacturer seems to make a point of delivering their next generation of smartphones with each passing year. This has always been the way the industry has functioned and it’s not likely to change any time soon. And every year, consumers feast their eyes on the latest shiny new devices, but here’s the thing — premium smartphone prices seem to keep getting higher each year. Since the introduction of the iPhone X, the idea of a thousand-dollar smartphone doesn’t seem to be as absurd as it used to be.
And from a consumer’s standpoint, that’s a bad thing. Phone manufacturers start to think that they can get away with charging exorbitant amounts of money for incremental upgrades (I’m looking at you, Apple and Samsung). Which then leads me to think that maybe buying the latest iteration of your smartphone of choice doesn’t seem to be a wise way to spend your hard-earned money.
The Duality of Smartphones
The trouble here is that smartphones are now slowly becoming two things at once. They primarily act as a means for communication, but they are also slowly becoming something similar to jewelry. The premium price tag they carry also comes with a status symbol of sorts. And well, if we’re going to be practical about the way we spend our money, that premium price tag just isn’t worth the phone that you’re actually getting, even with all the bells and whistles these premium smartphones now come with.
But even if you could afford these prices and you’re willing to buy these phones, there’s just one harsh reality about the smartphone industry — depreciation. That’s right. As previously surmised, manufacturers make it a point to release new iterations every year. That in itself is a big factor to smartphone depreciation.
The other concept that I’d like to mention is that of the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns. It’s essentially a point of reference from which the benefits no longer outweigh the effort and money invested. The latest and greatest phones illustrate that concept very well. A lot of manufacturers are guilty of making incremental upgrades to their phones and selling them for a really high price.
With each new release, sometimes last year’s leftovers become the best value for your money. Like, say, with the next batch of iPhones just a few months away, you can definitely expect last year’s iPhone prices to become lower.
Make Sure Your Upgrade Is Actually An Upgrade
Since phone manufacturers are currently offering incremental upgrades, wouldn’t it make sense to just wait for smartphone prices to drop? It’s only a year’s waiting period before you can get your hands on a capable phone. This is the very same reason that I never buy the latest and greatest — the asking price is just too high for what flagship phones offer. And what’s more is that it’s also really easy to give phones that brand new look by simply adding a skin, whether you buy a skin from third-party manufacturers or you make one yourself with the latest Cameo machine.
I mean, take it from me. I just recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus for $500. That’s $350 less than its original asking price of $850. And while you could say that I bought last year’s leftovers, I can at least say that I have a smartphone that’s still relevant in terms of raw processing power, RAM management, design, and camera. And in most cases, it’s just as good as the brand new S9 lineup.
See, to me there’s really no point in getting a fancy smartphone brand new other than for the bragging rights. And I’m not trying to bash anyone who buys phones brand new — I used to be part of that crowd. But ever since newer models have been coming out and the value of my phones started to depreciate, I suddenly felt like I just threw money away for a few months of clout.
In this case, it’s more a matter of spending your money wisely than it is a matter of being cheap. Because it’s just a harsh fact that life is expensive and we need to be able to stretch our resources as much as we can, even if we’re gainfully employed.
Get The Most Phone For Your Buck
The way that most flagship phones are built to be fragile also seems to be a hint at planned obsolescence. Even the smallest dent can severely harm your smartphone’s resale value. And that simply doesn’t sit well with me, especially with soaring premiums for high-end smartphones.
Incremental upgrades, the fragility of glass sandwich design phones, and the rate at which technology seems to evolve, all contribute to the rate at which smartphones depreciate. It doesn’t help that prices are soaring higher with each iteration, though I do give Samsung credit for selling the S10 series for the same price as when the S9 series first came out.
And well, if you’re truly adamant about getting a brand new device, modern budget phones are actually comparable to older flagships. Some brands like Oneplus are even built around the premise of top-end specs for reasonable prices. Though, truth be told, their prices have also gone up significantly in recent years, especially when compared to their previous offerings such as the Oneplus 1 and the Oneplus 2.
Whatever the case may be, hyped-up flagship phones are just that — hype. Much like a fashion trend that’s bound to go out of style in the next few months when the next new big thing comes out, most people find it difficult to justify spending a thousand dollars for a device that you’re going to use for a few years. A few of you probably could, but at the end of the day, a flagship smartphone is just that — a phone.