Author Topic: Is an expensive smartphone really better?  (Read 9989 times)

oldladystache

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Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« on: August 28, 2014, 03:06:46 PM »
I have the $35 a month plan with Virgin Mobile. You have to buy the phone from them. When I started with my first smart phone a couple years ago I didn't know anything and just assumed the more you spend the better it is. So I got the Galaxy S2. Not the most expensive, but a lot more than some.

My Galaxy has started misbehaving pretty badly, and if I can't get a handle on it I'm gonna retire it and replace it with something new. The prices range from about $40 to around $500 for an android phone. They never explain why one is worth 12 times the other.

I can only put up with missed calls and sudden music in the middle of the night for a little longer so I need to figure this out. Help?

alsoknownasDean

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Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 03:13:43 PM »
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/26/cure-yourself-of-tiny-details-exaggeration-syndrome/

Some of it would inevitably apply to smartphones. I suspect you'd gain things like screen size/resolution, camera quality, access to LTE and overall performance. I guess if you go too cheap you'd get rubbish performance/quality, but $200 or so should get a decent handset.

Ybserp

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 03:22:03 PM »
After a lot of years many phones do spontaneously start breaking down. I didn't get the music in the middle of the night thing, but I did get the missed calls you've experienced and eventually on my phone the screen stopped working so I couldn't tell who was calling... and I could only use it to call out because I had the phone menus memorized.

I went top of the line when I replaced the old phone, but I chose the best rate plan I could find for it. Sometimes I choose to give myself luxuries and this was one of those choices. So far I'm very happy with my phone.

Good luck figuring out which phone to buy next.

Christof

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 03:22:45 PM »
better is a function of your needs and your willingness to deal with complexity. Start with a list of things you want to do, then pick the chepeast phone that lets you accomplish these.

OptimizeOptimism

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 03:33:01 PM »
I actually just made the switch to Virgin Mobile over the summer. When I was picking phones, I ended up sorting their Android phones by Rating then looked to see if one of the highest rated stood out price wise. Turn out one did: LG Volt and it's been working great for me so far. Even looks kind of like one of the super expensive Galaxies. :)

YMMV on the actual phone you choose but checking out other people's reviews made it crystal clear that people with a $150ish phone were just as happy as people with a $500 phone and that I could be too!

EricL

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2014, 03:33:47 PM »
I guess my counter question is: better for what?  Smart phones are wonderful devices and have a myriad of applications in one's job, life, and hobbies.  Some smart phone applications can save you money and make save you money.  But there's no point buying a high-speed smart phone with a ton of apps you don't use enough to justify the expense.  You may be better off with a flip phone or even just a landline.

oldladystache

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2014, 03:39:05 PM »

ok, let me try to ask more clearly. What does an expensive Andriod phone do that a cheap one doesn't do?

I get that it may have a bigger memory and a larger screen. And a better camera. None of those mean much to me. But don't all Androids have the same apps? Don't they basically all do the same things?

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2014, 03:40:31 PM »

ok, let me try to ask more clearly. What does an expensive Andriod phone do that a cheap one doesn't do?

I get that it may have a bigger memory and a larger screen. And a better camera. None of those mean much to me. But don't all Androids have the same apps? Don't they basically all do the same things?

yes.

Christof

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2014, 03:52:40 PM »
Comparing the S5 with the Kyocera Event: The S5 has faster internet (LTE instead of 3G),  runs application 2.5 times faster, which means it will respond better especially when you do anything while making a call, the battery lasts longer, the display is most likely better visible in sun light. The S5 is more secure when it gets stolen.

For business usage I'd propably pick the S5, at least in my business, but for personal usage the Kyocera would be just fine, though I would go through the ratings.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 03:58:24 PM by Christof »

eostache

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2014, 05:14:43 PM »
I have a $50 android 4.x phone. I'm not sure if a $500 phone is 10x better, but I am satisfied with this phone. I'm a light phone user.

It's a Tracfone ZTE Valet. The only major problem I have with it sometimes is that the screen goes black and I have to pull the battery out and put it back in and restart the phone. This is a common thing for this phone model. Phone calls and texts work just fine (Verizon). Wifi works fine. It is a little slow in the processor department. I've been using the mp3 player on it recently and it works well. The battery life is really good on this phone, probably because it's underpowered.

Since these phones are only $50 I got a second one to stash aside. If I lose or break my phone I can easily transfer my service time and minutes to the backup phone.

A friend of mine got a $50 Alcatel android phone last year in black friday. He seems to be very happy with it on T Moblie.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 06:07:03 PM by eostache »

boarder42

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2014, 05:23:37 PM »
The market is becoming saturated with cell phones. Does the s3 do that much less than the s5. Not really. U lose LTE.

Holyoak

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2014, 05:31:55 PM »
I have a Nokia 520 on the Go-phone plan from ATT...  Rock solid, Hot spot, 4g, and a shockingly good phone for the insanely low price of $39 when on sale from Amazon.  SO has one as well after giving up her IP4, and it is rock solid too.  Love the windows 8.1 operating system, it is so smooth and extremely reliable.  Good luck!

boarder42

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2014, 05:35:05 PM »
Also worth it depends. I've had my nexus 5 since it launched. It is worth 30 bucks less than I paid for it. A 50 dollar phone is worth nothing to 90% of people as soon as you buy it. It is a depreciating asset. But smart phones hold value until the next one comes out.

Dodge

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2014, 05:50:49 PM »
I have the $35 a month plan with Virgin Mobile. You have to buy the phone from them. When I started with my first smart phone a couple years ago I didn't know anything and just assumed the more you spend the better it is. So I got the Galaxy S2. Not the most expensive, but a lot more than some.

My Galaxy has started misbehaving pretty badly, and if I can't get a handle on it I'm gonna retire it and replace it with something new. The prices range from about $40 to around $500 for an android phone. They never explain why one is worth 12 times the other.

I can only put up with missed calls and sudden music in the middle of the night for a little longer so I need to figure this out. Help?

It really depends on your needs/wants.  Today I was playing Bioshock, one of the top games on the Xbox 360 released just about 7 years ago...on my phone.  It was certainly an "I'm blown away right now" moment.  And you know what?  I can buy a used iPhone which supports that game, for between $200 and $250.

I agree with the idea that you definitely start hitting diminishing returns once price gets above that range.

oldladystache

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2014, 08:51:50 PM »
After missing yet another call I just ordered one of the cheapest Android phones Virgin Mobile offers.  About $70 including tax. We'll see how it goes.

Not only have I been unable to answer it, it has been sending the callers to voicemail, then not saving their message. So they think they've told me whatever it is they wanted me to know.

horsepoor

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2014, 09:44:16 PM »
If you aren't a heavy data user, and since you say you don't care about screen size, a cheaper phone will probably be just fine for you.  I doubt that the high-end phone is really going to be more reliable or anything like that.  People are willing to pay quite a premium to have the latest and greatest that is maybe 3% better than the last generation, which suddenly drops in price like a rock.  Take advantage and grab the previous gen, which is just fine, and happens to not be the hot thing this month.

Less

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2014, 09:57:17 PM »
I just went round this track with my s3 after i broke my screen. Ended up deciding to fix rather then replace as it came out as best cost/benefit ratio.

Also worth it depends. I've had my nexus 5 since it launched. It is worth 30 bucks less than I paid for it. A 50 dollar phone is worth nothing to 90% of people as soon as you buy it. It is a depreciating asset. But smart phones hold value until the next one comes out.

AT least in NZ this would not hold true. The value drops by $50 as soon as you leave the shop even when buying parallel imported (bless pricespy.co.nz), and then after 12 months as a second hand phone the value would be 1/2-2/3 the value.

Buying a good second hand phone and replacing the battery is a really good way to go i reckon. Though the Nokia 520 is really hard to go past at $140 new and around $80 second hand.

space

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2014, 11:07:47 PM »
The market is becoming saturated with cell phones. Does the s3 do that much less than the s5. Not really. U lose LTE.

AFAIK, all US variants of the GS3 have LTE - maybe just not quite as many bands of LTE (The new Sprint S4 has Spark).

As for whether an expensive smartphone is better - if you're talking about the superphones that cost somewhere around $600-$700 - no, not really. Technology tends to be a decreasing marginal returns thing - you will probably notice an upgrade from a $100 to $200 phone, possibly from $200 to $300-$350 (Oneplus One and the Nexus 5 are fairly large improvements upon what you'll find for most cheaper phones, although the Lenovo K910 Vibe Z is a very nice phone that is cheaper if you take the time to find a good importer for it). Past around $400, you really don't see much difference - the Huawei Honor 6 is probably the fastest phone out there currently, and it's about $430 for the high-end variant. (It's basically a much cheaper Exynos-variant GS5, though it uses its own A15 HMP chipset). Personally, I'm somewhat of a phone hacker, so I'll spend a bit of time getting decent performance out of a Defy XT and leave the heavy processing to an Allwinner A80-based tablet.

neo von retorch

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2014, 05:29:02 AM »
In general, the cheapest Android phones do have their share of problems. The landscape isn't as bad as it once was, but with the cheap phones, you're still getting cheaper components and more interference from the phone manufacturer and the phone carrier on your software.

If you stick with Virgin Mobile, look into the Moto G. At $150, it is twice what you paid on a phone that doesn't work (and therefore has zero value!) but it's rock solid hardware and very "clean" software, just as God Google intended it.

As a bonus, the camera is actually pretty nice. It's very snappy and responsive. It just works. I had very few issues while I was using a Moto G. (I only stopped because I don't like Republic Wireless. Calls through Wifi were awful.)

boarder42

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2014, 06:32:57 AM »
i paid 380 shipped for my phone... i can sell it for 300 pretty easily right now so it has lost 21% of its value so i was a little off. 

Timmmy

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2014, 06:47:15 AM »
Higher end phones will remain useable for longer.  That's the only real difference in my opinion.  As android software is upgraded the lower end handsets will have a hard time keeping up with the required processor and memory.  My recommendation is to buy a a phone that was high end about 6 months ago.  It should last you for 3-4 years.

Also, as to the reason you are even looking at new phones.  If your phone is misbehaving you should back up your data and perform a factory reset.  This will likely solve all of the issues you are having with the phone.  The only thing it won't solve is low battery performance but that can be fixed with a $20 or less replacement battery.  Go high capacity battery if it's available and fits in your phone. 

I'm using a phone that was released in late 2011 and I bought in early 2012.  It's still going strong.  I just replaced the battery a month ago and I expect to continue to use it for another year or maybe more. 

hybrid

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2014, 07:37:07 AM »
Smartphones aren't all that different from cars. If one buys an iPhone 5s (soon to be sooooo 2014) they are getting the Cadillac of smartphones. All well and good if the user is leveraging the Cadillac of smartphones or simply wants to plunk down $600 for the privilege of owning the Cadillac of smartphones.

Our family switched to T-Mobile about 9 months ago and their family plan included 500MB of data. So we opted for smartphones since the low-end Alcatel One Touch 5020T was only $80 and a decent flip phone wasn't much less than that. So I figured that any benefits over my old flip phone were all gravy. With that state of mind firmly in place I was very pleasantly surprised by the phone. Good sound quality, texting was a breeze, I could now get my work and personal email, and a few apps have been quite handy. Nice alarm clock feature, and it manages my contacts well. The camera was adequate for my needs, I could take a quick pic and post it to Facebook. Decent enough battery life.

If you take a moment and read reviews for this phone you will discover that this is fact considered to be a terrible phone. Why? Because it is being measured against other smartphones, and compared side-by-side to an iPhone 5s it is in fact a pretty lousy phone. A lousy phone that costs $520 less than an iPhone 5s.

So to the OP I would suggest this. Determine what you want your smartphone to do and then make your purchase based on your needs. My smartphone is the equivalent of a 2003 Corolla and I am just fine with that, it does everything that I require it to do. Your needs may be very different.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2014, 07:56:28 AM »
Also worth it depends. I've had my nexus 5 since it launched. It is worth 30 bucks less than I paid for it. A 50 dollar phone is worth nothing to 90% of people as soon as you buy it. It is a depreciating asset. But smart phones hold value until the next one comes out.

why would you care about the resale value of a smartphone? I use my phones until they are so broke down as to be nonfunctional

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2014, 09:30:41 AM »
Smartphones are today's physical embodiment of Moore's Law:  processing power doubles every 18 months, while size decreases by half - making it possible to increase the number of gadgets /  camera pixels, etc. they can stuff in there. 

I recommend people buy one-generation down from current-model.  You get the latest gadgets from a year ago, and you have 2-4 years of use left in them (although with an iPhone you'll probably need to replace the battery at least once).
Android:  Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC1 (prior to the "M8" latest model).
Apple:  iPhone 5s (if you can hold off buying until after the iPhone 6 appears on Sept. 9, you'll be able to get a great deal).

I used to be a Microsoft guy, but haven't followed their smartphones.  I anticipate they'll decide against it - call it a 'non-core business' and drop (or sell off) the whole WindowsPhone(tm) business.

Jack

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2014, 10:15:49 AM »
I have owned two smartphones so far:
  • A Samsung Intercept, which was a low-end (even at the time) Android 2.2 phone that happened to be the very first smartphone ever offered with a non-exhorbitantly-priced service plan in the US (from Virgin Mobile).
  • A Nexus 5, which I would call "highest-end" even though it's half the price of an iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S5 (both of which are rip-offs IMO), which I use with a cheap T-Mobile almost-data-only plan and VoIP
The Intercept had a physical keyboard, removable battery and removable SD card, all of which are features I valued. It was also better at making phone calls -- the speaker on the Nexus 5 is a bit weak. However, there's no way in Hell I would switch back to the Intercept because the user experience is so much better with the higher-resolution screen and better CPU/RAM. Even just navigating around the operating system interface is better, let alone performance of actual apps.

Today I was playing Bioshock, one of the top games on the Xbox 360 released just about 7 years ago...on my phone.  It was certainly an "I'm blown away right now" moment.  And you know what?  I can buy a used iPhone which supports that game, for between $200 and $250.

I agree with the idea that you definitely start hitting diminishing returns once price gets above that range.

I was watching Star Trek on Netflix on my Nexus 5 the other day, saw one of the characters carrying a stack of PADDs around, realized that my phone was more capable than said PADDs, and thought to myself "wow, I'm living in the future!"

If I were in the market for a cellphone today -- and I might be soon, since my wife's Samsung Captivate (AKA original Galaxy S) is starting to fail -- I would be strongly considering the Moto G (as well as the Moto E, Moto X, and Nexus 5). I'll probably hold off on the decision at least until the next Nexus comes out, though.

ketchup

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2014, 10:47:55 AM »
"Nicer" phones do tend to actually be nicer, but there's definitely diminishing returns as you climb that ladder.  My girlfriend's Moto X that she paid $300 for earlier this year is far and away a better phone than my Galaxy S that I bought last year for $20 (2011 revision of a 2010 phone).  But I don't think a $600 phone would be in practice any better at all than her Moto X.

The battery in my phone is getting crappy, and certain apps won't work on its version of Android, so I'll probably be getting a "new" one soon.  The successor to the Moto X (the alleged Moto X+1, which is a pretty silly name) is set to be announced pretty soon, so I might try to snag a cheap "older" Moto X after that hits.

boarder42

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2014, 10:57:33 AM »
Also worth it depends. I've had my nexus 5 since it launched. It is worth 30 bucks less than I paid for it. A 50 dollar phone is worth nothing to 90% of people as soon as you buy it. It is a depreciating asset. But smart phones hold value until the next one comes out.

why would you care about the resale value of a smartphone? I use my phones until they are so broke down as to be nonfunctional

b/c you can flip phones.  sometimes i buy brand new but more often than not i buy on CL and resell on CL a few months later for a profit.  makes having a cellphone profitable. i guess i could keep a phone and just flip the phones over and over but i like to try out different ones to see what i like every few months.

Daley

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Re: Is an expensive smartphone really better?
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2014, 11:32:56 AM »
my Galaxy S that I bought last year for $20 (2011 revision of a 2010 phone).

...

The battery in my phone is getting crappy, and certain apps won't work on its version of Android, so I'll probably be getting a "new" one soon.  The successor to the Moto X (the alleged Moto X+1, which is a pretty silly name) is set to be announced pretty soon, so I might try to snag a cheap "older" Moto X after that hits.

A new, Samsung OEM battery for the Galaxy S can be had for around $10, and the Android OS version issue can be corrected with a little effort by replacing the firmware with CyanogenMod if your specific model is supported. Battery life and current Android support for $10 and a couple hours of effort. Cheaper than a new phone, and helps keep more electronics out of the waste cycle.

Smartphones are a luxury tool, treat them with the respect they deserve, and be mindful of the exact cost and impact their creation has on your fellow man and the environment. Fundamentally for most, they're a want, not a need.