Around this time last year, I wrote a rant about mobile phones. It’s now one year later, and I think it’s high-time I did a little more ranting.
Let me begin by saying this: Mobile phones are giant money black-holes. Even financially intelligent people who can otherwise save money, seem to have a giant weakness for mobile phones and fancy mobile services.
I get it, smartphones are required equipment if you want to exist in the modern world. But how much of that is just marketing hype and social pressure? Probably a lot of it.
How much money is being wasted on these fancy gadgets? Well, new mobile phones aren’t cheap. This year’s models from Apple and Samsung start at a mere $700, and the flagship models now commanding up to $1000. Yes, $1000! That’s completely ridiculous for a device that will only last about two years!
Combined with the cost of mobile service (roughly $500), most consumers are spending close to $1,000 per year to own one of these gadgets.
Consumers need real alternatives to this over-priced profit-oriented nonsense… which is why I’ve decided to write a new version of this post every-single-year!
People need to know they have real options. Frugal options!
Do You Really Need A New Phone?
Most phones are designed to last about 2 to 3 years before the average consumer replaces them. Usually the battery wears first. Or, if the owner is particularly clumsy they’ll drop it (and the screen cracks).
This is the usual state of affairs when a phone gets replace. Why? The big failure points (the battery and the screen) are no longer designed to be easily replaceable in most models. While it’s technically possible to do for skilled individuals with all the necessary tools, it’s far from easy. The manufacturer designed it that that way, so you’d buy a new model instead.
This strategy appears to be working, most people opt for a new phone instead of attempting repairs.
But what if your screen isn’t broken? What if your battery still lasts? Do you really need an upgrade every 2 to 3 years?
Probably not! The decision to buy a new model is usually driven by ‘fashion’, not new capabilities or better performance. Despite all the hype, as long as the hardware is in working order, I honestly don’t think upgrades are necessary.
The Best Way to Save Money
Can a phone last longer than the average 2 to 3 year replacement cycle? Absolutely! I’ve been rocking my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for nearly 5 years now. That’s almost twice as long as it’s supposed to last, and invariably a few things are starting to fail — The camera can no longer focus, and the battery life isn’t quite as good as it used to be.
Do these things bother me? Not really! Other than those niggly issues, my phone is great.
Which brings me to the first rule to save money on mobile phones: Take care of your existing phone! If you take good care of your older model, you probably won’t need to replace it every two years.
A little care can keep an older phone lasting a very long time!
New & Refurbished
Inevitably though, accidents do happen. Maybe you took your phone for a swim in the commode, or played one too many rounds of street hockey with it. Eventually your phone will break, and you’ll want to replace it.
So here’s the second rule to saving money when buying a phone — Don’t buy the latest model! Especially the latest flagship ‘hero’ model that gets all the marketing.
Don’t buy into that marketing hype — You don’t need the latest features or the fastest processor!
Instead, buy a new or refurbished model from previous years! These older models were hot-shit just a year or two ago, and are still incredibly powerful devices (especially if you’ve been rocking a much older phone).
“But wait a second Mr. Tako! What if my local phone store doesn’t carry these older models anymore?”
Yes, this happens! Those ‘local’ retailers only carry the models where profit margins are highest. This means they stock only the most expensive new models, and a ‘low-cost’ model made for profitability.
Just ignore the traditional retailers — they’re setup to maximize profit, not save you money! Instead, you need to be shopping for your new phone online.
Just like last year, I’ve compiled a table of the most affordable unlocked phones under $500:
There’s tons of great options here, available for under $500! Several are even less than $200!
Second Tier Is Affordable
It’s also worth considering second tier brands to save yourself some money.
If you don’t mind less popular brands, there’s considerable savings to be found. Mid-range phones like this Asus Zenfone model can be had for as little as $148. That’s a lot of value!
Who are these 2nd Tier Manufacturers? Typically they’re chinese brand phones made in the same factories that Apple and Samsung use. These guys go by names like:
The 2nd Tier manufacturers typically produce budget phones — meaning there will be trade-offs compared to “1st Tier” flagship phones.
While I don’t have any personal experience owning the phones of these manufacturers, I can say that I’ve read pretty decent reviews of these budget phones. They’re worth considering!
We live in a more connected world today, and the ability to have limitless information at your fingertips is a powerful technological advance… but not one that needs to come at excessive cost.
A new phone model isn’t going to add to your sex-appeal, or make you more attractive. Phones are not status symbols or fashion accessories… they’re simply information devices.
Honestly, nobody cares if you’re rocking a 5 year old phone or the latest model! From a few feet away every phone model looks exactly the same.
So don’t fall for the marketing hype! Save your dollars and pick a fantastic frugal option instead!
Invest the savings, and it might just supply an endless stream of income. That’s a far sexier option if you ask me.