Editorial: Why You Don’t Want the $700 Flagship Phone

6 months ago comradetao Comments Off on Editorial: Why You Don’t Want the $700 Flagship Phone

Every year, the big phone makers hold press conferences full of pagentry and market their newest, greatest “must have” device to consumers in the wealthier countries of the world. They tell you why version 5 is better than 4, 6 is better than 5, and so on. Why? Because if they don’t keep selling you more phones, they lose a serious income stream.

What’s Good About Flagship Phones

Very few people need the function of a flagship phone. Probably 95% of smartphone users would be happy with a five year old phone if the newest greatest things weren’t always tempting them. There are some people that are serious enthusiasts or have special cases that can benefit from the newest devices. For instance, many of 2016’s flagship phones have some kind of weather sealing or water-proofing. People who find themselves outdoors or getting caught in the rain often benefit from the weather resistance; or at least the peace of mind that comes with having it. Sometimes niche-filling features like that give consumers a good enough reason to upgrade.

The same flagship phones, though, are typically sold on increased peformance. They’ll have faster processor, higher resolution screens, more RAM, bigger storage. Are these the kinds of check boxes you should be looking for when you shop for a phone, or are they used to generate hype and excitement for something you won’t ever notice?

Enough Is As Good As a Feast

So when you use your phone, do you grow angry that it takes 2 seconds instead of 1.5 seconds to load a page? Does the dialer run too slowly for you to make that important call? Do you need several orders of magnitude more computing power than the space shuttles had to send a text (probably actually yes, but you get the point).The reality is, these incremental improvements are more for fringe uses than most things. The majority of us don’t want gaming consoles in our pockets; we just want to be able to make contacts and get information on the go. That requirement is met by even low-end products.

I think most people should be shopping for the phone that checks of the major selling points for their use. If you shop for a model from 1-2 years ago, you can get pretty new technology long battery life, and a good user experience for a fraction of the flagship price.

The phone I most recently bought is a Moto X Pure 2015 64GB model. It has a high resolution screen and a bunch of features I don’t need. It’ll play Pokemon Go, make calls, get texts, take decent pictures, and it’s easy to read text on the screen. I like it, and it cost about $250. That phone, by the way, has radios for all of the major U.S. carriers. $250 was the unlocked, no commitment price. Really, I could have done with a heck of a lot less than that too. I might still dump this and grab one of those $50 prepaid phones that go on sale regularly.

If you read this, I hope it helps you put things in right perspective for your shopping. Think, if you saved several hundred dollars on your phone, what you could do for your family, for charity, or for yourself with the extra money you saved. Your life won’t be worse because you get 32fps in a mobile game vs 38fps, but you can make your life better by not chasing after the newest shiny object Samsung, Apple, or whatever company is dangling in your face.