OK, I’m sick of it! With all of the new mobile phone releases in the last couple weeks I think it’s high-time we talked about the little financial disaster that is that modern mobile phone gizmo.
Yes, you heard me right — a financial disaster! It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of high-cost mobile phone plans. That doesn’t mean I’m a neophyte, I still have a smart-phone!
While smart-phones are extremely useful, it’s important to remember the device itself also comes at a very high cost.
Can we find ways to save ourselves money on mobile phones? Well, I’ve got a few ideas…
Did you know that the average consumer replaces his phone every 2-3 years? It’s true — either the phone breaks, the battery wears out, or you just get tired of it in 2-3 years.
There is good news though: The phone manufacturers of the world always have a new model for you. Every year they launch a new model with all the latest tech and that hotter-than-shit styling.
Don’t get me wrong, every year something is improved — it might be the OLED screen, the camera, the battery, waterproofing, the glass, the software. You name it, they always find something to improve…even if it’s a feature you never use like the fingerprint scanner, or the NFC feature.
The problem is, these new top drawer models cost a fortune!
Just how much? Let’s look at the cost of this year’s steaming piles of wonder:
- Iphone 7 Plus – $769, $869, $969 (32GB, 128 GB, and 256GB models respectively)
- Iphone 7 – $649, $749, $849 (32GB, 128 GB, and 256GB models respectively)
- Galaxy Note 7 – $850
- Galaxy S7 – $650
- LG G5 – $650
- OnePlus 3 – $399
- HTC 10 – $699
- Moto Z – $624, 674 (32GB, and 64GB models respectively)
Holy Tentacles those phones are expensive!! No wonder people have trouble saving enough for financial independence!
Replacing one of these devices every two years is a significant cost.
For example, take the lower-end Iphone 7 at $649 — when replaced ever two years that’s an annual cost of $325! And that’s only the low end model!
The Key To Saving
The key to saving money on mobile phones isn’t really about holding onto your phone longer (although that helps too) — The key to saving money on phones is being comfortable not having the most awesome phone.
Mobile phones are just like buying a new car: You get that awesome ‘new’ feeling. It looks cool. You keep it polished to a shine. You show it off. It has tons of new features and gets great mileage (battery-life).
But after a few years, hedonic adaptation sets in. The car (or phone) gets a few scratches. Maybe you don’t clean it quite as frequently. Eventually new models come out, and your car (or phone) is no longer quite as cool.
You want to save money for financial independence? Then don’t worry about having a cool phone. Instead of lusting after that hot-pile of tech awesomeness, buy the cold pile of used-to-be-awesomeness. You’ll get far more for your dollar.
Used is Cheapest
My personal cell-phone is a Galaxy Note 2. It was released 4 years ago, in 2012. It’s been a great phone over the last 3 years. It’s survived countless drops, a bout with the washing machine, and has even done some pretty serious international traveling.
But I’ll tell you a dirty little secret: I didn’t buy it new.
I found my phone on Craigslist from a guy who was interested in upgrading to the Galaxy Note 3. He was willing to sell me his one year old Note 2 for only $200. At the time, this was a great deal, but now you can find it for even less.
Just like a car, buying used is a fantastic way to save money. Let someone else pay for all that depreciation, right?
Used equipment is always going to be your cheapest option, but I’ve been told buying a used phone isn’t for everyone…
It isn’t always clear if a used phone is going to be unlocked (or unlockable). It’s also hard to evaluate the state of the phone’s battery when buying used (which is why I recommend buying used phones with replaceable batteries).
Not everyone is going to be willing to do all that research and work just to buy a used phone. Thankfully there are other options…
New & Refurbished
Why not buy a new older model? While your favorite cell carrier won’t stock those older phones, major phone manufacturers still sell older models online years after release.
Check out this example: Samsung is selling a new Galaxy Note 4 on Amazon for $328. That’s less than half the cost of the recently released Note 7 ($850)….and I’m pretty sure that new Note 4 won’t catch fire.
If you’re willing to go with a certified refurbished model (which in my mind is just as good as new), you can get that same Galaxy Note 4 model for as low as $254! That’s three times less than the cost of a new Note 7.
If I was going to upgrade my Note 2 to this new Note 4, it would be a freaking awesome upgrade! The screen would be better, the camera would be better, the phone might even be twice as fast as my old model. I can still have those wonderful technology improvements…only a few years behind the current generation! At a fraction of the cost!
Want me to make it even easier than that?
Here’s a handy-dandy table of older models that still sell “new” and under $500*:
* Prices subject to constant change! Don’t blame me when the price changes!
Shopping the 2nd Tier
Another great tip when shopping for a cell phone is to consider purchasing from a “2nd Tier” manufacturer. Remember that list of this year’s new models? All those guys are what I call “1st Tier”. They’re the big names and they make the most marketing noise when a new model comes out. But they’re not the only players in the game — There are “2nd Tier” names that make phones too!
Who are the 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 with the phones of these manufacturers, I can say that I’ve read pretty decent reviews of these budget phones.
Do your research carefully.
A Personal Choice
Personally I don’t have a problem using older phone technology. My ego isn’t caught up in what phone I use. By the time I get to a phone model, the issues have already been worked out, and the bugs fixed too. It’s a situation that works for me, and provides financial benefits too!
But it’s a personal choice. I get it. Maybe owning the latest phone is important to you.
Financial independence was always more important to me than a new phone. In a couple years I’ll get to try out that new phone anyway…let me know if it’s any good, OK?
[Image Credit: Wikipedia]