Pulling the trigger on one, specific phone is becoming harder and harder to do. No matter which carrier you choose to provide your wireless service, there is no doubt a plethora of phones to choose from. Different form factors, different manufacturers, different mobile platforms and different price points all play a major role in your final decision. And to make matters worse, it seems as if a new phone is announced and launched each week, adding to the choices and making the muck harder to sift through.
A few years ago, this was not an issue. Of course, there weren't nearly as many phones being produced. But people didn't really flock to the Internet to see which phones were out, which were on the horizon or what devices were about to slip into oblivion either. People simply made trips to the carrier store to see what was physically on the shelves. Sure, there were still rumors back then, too, but nothing to the degree of today's newswire. Nowadays, we sometimes hear of phones nine months to a year before they're officially launched.
You better believe we know good and well when a new phone is going to release, usually days – if not weeks – prior to launch, too. And if the purported date is missed, all hell breaks loose. The point is, when a hotly rumored and heavily followed phone approaches launch status, people are there, ready for it. They will start lining up and clearing their schedule to ensure they get their phone before the masses – better yet, before the carrier sells out.
But how smart is this waiting in line tactic? Is it a bad idea to buy a phone on launch day? If so, how long should you wait it out?
For starters, if you're the type that must have the latest and greatest ... just go ahead and buy the phone you've been eyeing Mr. Blurrycam pictures of for six months. Nothing will convince you that it's not worth it to be first in line like finally getting it in your hands and hearing the rumor of its successor when you get home the very same day. (I speak from experience, many times through. I've made the trek to my carrier store early in the morning to pick up a new phone on launch day countless times now, only to be frustrated some time later, for one reason or another.)
For those of you who are not interested in having the most groundbreaking phone (read: flavor of the week), patience is the name of the game. Wait it out and see what happens to the device in the following couple of weeks and months.
Along with each new phone that breaks cover comes a price drop or some other bargain to be had – one phone slips to end of life status and another takes its place in middle price tier. Take the DROID RAZR, for instance. When the RAZR was announced, both Verizon and Motorola wanted us all to believe that it was the best phone money could buy. "Too powerful to fall in the wrong hands" was the slogan, and it was advertised as the thinnest smartphone in the world, as well as one of the most durable with its steel chassis and Kevlar fiber backing.
Not even a month after the DROID RAZR launched, though, we caught word of the DROID RAZR MAXX. And today, just two months after the fact, a separate, cheaper DROID RAZR is available for purchase. The original DROID RAZR launched at a whopping $300 with a two-year agreement. An identical model, sans 16GB pre-installed micro SD card, became available today, subsidized for $200. The HTC Rezound, which also originally launched in November for $300 with a two-year agreement, was dropped a full $100 to $200 with an agreement earlier this month. As life cycles of cell phones get shorter and shorter, their prices are going to drop closer and closer to launch day.
Waiting it out isn't always about pricing, though. As we've seen time and time again, different color variations always seem to come after the initial rush of buyers has passed. The Galaxy Nexus is believed to be available on AT&T next month in an alabaster version. The Galaxy Note is popping up in white, too. And the RAZR, of course, is coming in varying colors (purple and white) just two months after the original release date. On top of a better deal or possible color variations, you gain the knowledge of any issues with a particular device: hardware issues, software bugs and any other possible issues.
While playing the patience game has it's benefits, it isn't always ideal, though. If you wait too long, something else is inevitably going to come along and you'll be back at square one at least a few times before you get too fed up to care anymore and rush into a phone you're going to be unhappy with. Nobody wants to launch themselves into a perpetual waiting game. But rushing into a phone that has problems – or buying a phone at $300 to have its price cut $100 or more just a month or two later – is usually worse than waiting a few extra weeks.
I tell it to my friends and family time and time again. Wait. Wait it out. Be patient. Eventually, a deal you will like will come along. Nobody ever listens. And they come straight to me when they're mad because they missed out on a deal or rushed into a phone with problems, etc. My advice to any of you who are keen to waiting a bit is to err on the side of patience. It's better to miss a good deal or to pass up an okay device for a much better one than to be stuck with a device you don't like for two years. As long as your current phone works and you can live with whatever problems you may have with it, I would hold on to that upgrade as if it were gold. It's not always easy to do, but you'll thank me later ... probably.
What do you do, ladies and gents? Do you try to play the waiting game? Or are you the guy (or gal) sitting in a tent on the curb waiting for launch day? How does your method work out for you? Have you ever rushed into a phone and regretted it later on?