Have you always gotten what you paid for?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: October 2, 2013

Finding and choosing a smartphone can sometimes be a harrowing task, specifically if you're not exactly sure what you want when you go looking. There's a lot of questions to ask yourself when looking for a phone, like what features are important, does the manufacturer who makes it matter, what have the reviews on the device been so far, and of course whether the price of the phone plays a major factor in whether you want the phone or not. The phrase "You get what you pay for," seems common enough, but you usually only hear it when something doesn't work or go as well as you had hoped. But what about the times where you end up coming out ahead of the game and walking away with a good deal?

The smartphone universe is full of phones with prices that are all over the board. Every major platform has their low-end and high-end devices, and while it's easy to toss aside some of the cheaper phones and thinking that they're only priced that way because they're inferior devices, it's been my experience that that's not always the case. In fact, more often than not I encounter scenarios where high-end devices don't live up to the expectations of price versus overall experience rather than low-end devices not matching up to expectations. I imagine this has something to do with a point that I brought up the other day: When you're paying more for something, your expectations are much higher. When you've made the choice to spend less money, you're likely expecting less quality, and therefore pleased whenever it works better than expected.

Now-a-days I go for the high-end devices, mostly because I'm an adult and can afford them when the time comes and, admittedly, I am a pretty firm believer in the whole "getting what you pay for" quote. I also realize that this phrase is a total gamble. If I pay the $200 or so that it costs to purchase a high-end device and find out that I hate it after it's too late, then not only am I out $200 for a device that I really didn't end up liking, but I'm probably stuck with it for the better part of two years. Every day you pull it out of your pocket, and when you look at it you don't see it for the technological marvel that it truly is; it is just a $200 abomination that does nothing but haunt you and reflect upon your poor taste. For shame. On the other hand, if I decided to go for a free phone and hated it, I wouldn't feel nearly as bad when I experience some serious lag or other unpleasant issues that often come with getting a cheaper phone. It's sort of just a "Whatever, I didn't pay anything for this phone, so... there's always that."

I will say that I've only had one really bad experience with a flagship phone, and that was my HTC EVO 3D. I mean, I kept making excuses for it at first. I did like the carousel for HTC Sense 3.0 - I could sit there and spin it for hours. But aside from that, the battery life wasn't that great, the 3D was definitely, definitely a gimmick, and the design was pretty lackluster in my opinion. Not to say everybody else felt that way about it, but I was pretty disappointed that I ended up with the EVO 3D. That's probably the only device I can remember really disliking.

As for cheap phones, I actually had a really great experience with the LG Optimus S... at least at first. Even when I started encountering problems after a bad update, it wasn't really that big of a deal because I didn't invest that much in the phone. I think that's what it all comes down to for me. I will notice the problems that they have, but I won't care a lot because I didn't put that much money into it. It's completely excusable.

However, I will say that I am pleased that lately I'm seeing more and more phones come out that are cheap (even off contract) and are still good. We all know about the Nexus 4 (hopefully soon to be Nexus 5) and we've discussed BLU Life Play here at PhoneDog a time or two, so now phones that cost less don't even necessarily mean that they can get away with being bad - some of them are actually quite sturdy. I am even planning on taking the leap of faith and purchasing the next generation Nexus device, which would be the first time in a long time that I decided not to go with a high-priced, top tier device. I am both excited and nervous about it, but as I've said earlier, the phrase "You get what you pay for," isn't always necessarily true.

What have your experiences been, readers? Have you ever paid low for a really great device, or did you perhaps pay too much for a not-so-great device? Let us know your stories in the comments below!

Image via Laptop Mag