We’ve seen a lot this year when it comes to mobile, from the beginning of the year until now. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that many of us in the industry are just itching to buy a new phone at this point - if that itch hasn’t already been scratched, that is. Each year, unless a particular phone really strikes my fancy, I tend to wait until the end of the year before I seriously consider purchasing a new phone. This way, I’m able to compare all of the year’s flagships in all of their true splendor. It’s one thing to go off of the hope of rumors and leaks, but we in this industry are no stranger to heartbreak; I prefer to wait to see what’s really offered.
With that being said, it’s getting to that point again for me. I’ve grown tired of the iPhone 4S I’ve been carrying for the past few months as a placeholder for the new phone I’ll be carrying for the next several months. However, just because I’m tired of using it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to choose from all of the wonderful phones we’ve seen this year! I know I’m not the only one who faces this dilemma from time to time, so I thought I’d share some of my tips on how I find the perfect phone for me when I go shopping for a new device.
Lists are good for many reasons, and shopping for a new smartphone is no exception. By making a list of all of the smartphones you are, and may potentially, be interested in, you can weed out all of the other “fluff” when you visit retail stores to tinker around with phones. This will also make it easier to figure out which phones you need to thoroughly research, which is what we’ll do in our next step.
There’s a lot you can find out from the comfort of your own home, before you ever even step foot in a retail store. After you’ve made a list of all of the phones you might be interested in, look up the specs, price, and hands-on videos and reviews for each phone to get a better idea of what to expect when you check the phones out for yourself. Keep in mind to take each reviewer’s point of view with a grain of salt - everybody has their own personal preferences. For example, I think phones with a 5-inch screen (or larger) is just too big, but most reviewers don’t feel that way. One reviewer might like the aluminum body on an HTC One, and another might prefer the matte plastic or wooden back of a Moto X instead.
The red flags you want to look out for in reviews are ones that deal with performance issues like lag and battery life. These are the problems that you want to know about beforehand, and one that reviewers are able to give you better insight on considering most of them spend at least a week to a month with these devices.
After you research, you might be able to narrow your list down from the get-go. Maybe one phone didn’t have enough battery life or something, or another just didn’t strike you as a phone you really wanted after all. If you can narrow down your list, do so. You’ll save some time.
Now’s the time where you take your list and your researched information and you visit the store to experience the phone yourself. Although you’ll be stuck to a wall, it can still give you a better idea of how the phone actually feels in your hand. Maybe the phone was bigger or smaller than you thought, or you simply don’t like the way it feels in your hand, or perhaps the display wasn’t all you were hoping for and more compared to another phone you were considering. Actually visiting a store to make comparisons gives you a chance to form your own opinions.
It can be tempting to just throw up your arms and say, “Okay, I’ll just take this phone because I’m so tired of the phone I’m carrying now.” If you’re not sure, you’ll probably be doing yourself a favor by waiting until you are. Most carriers charge a restocking fee if you end up exchanging a device within the 14 or 30-day exchange period (check with your carrier to find out how long the exchange period is). Whatever the return or exchange fee is is likely a drop in the hat compared to how much you spent on your phone, but that $35 could be going to way better things. Like, anything else.
You might end up exchanging after the fact anyway, but at least you gave yourself as much time as possible, right?
When you think you’ve got the right device in mind, go make that purchase! This is the best and final step of the entire process, of course.
It might seem silly to write out a guide on how to buy a new phone, but you might be surprised how many people go off of the recommendations of their friends/family/retail workers and even video reviewers, which are all people who have different opinions on these devices. The best thing you can do for yourself is conduct your own research and conclusions. This can potentially save you a lot of headaches and some cash.