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Is It Ever Worth Buying An Old Phone?

12 May, 2020 Smartphones

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Technology has never been as disposable as it is right now. When your laptop is old, you throw it away and buy a new one. When a new version of the iPad (or your preferred brand of tablet) is released, you stop using the old one even if there's nothing mechanically wrong with it. Above and beyond all of this, you probably replace your mobile phone every one to two years as your existing contract comes to an end. You copy all the data, photographs, and apps across from your old phone to your new one, and then your old phone goes in a drawer, never to be used again. 

Whenever you go through the upgrade process, you'll find that your network tries to push one of the latest high-functioning brand-new handsets on you. Even if they weren't doing that, you'd probably be drawn to those phones anyway. Because new phones are released every year, you're left with the impression that the technology that's inside them improves every year, too, and that your best option is to get a newer phone in order to stay ahead of the curve. Is that always the case, though? It's the most expensive choice to make, but is it the right one? Could you save money by getting an older refurbished phone and never notice the difference? 

There are a few things to consider if you're looking at replacing your current phone with a refurbished model, and they boil down to what we call ‘phone essentials.' We'll tackle them one at a time. 

How Good Is The Phone's Camera? 

Despite what everyone believes, the processors inside mobile phones don't usually get better with every passing year. The Snapdragon processor inside the best phones right now is the same as the Snapdragon processor that was inside last year's phones. The cameras, however, do get better. Very few people have digital cameras anymore, and so we rely on our phones as a replacement for them. Right now, the Pixel 4 and the iPhone 11 Pro are thought to have the best phone cameras on the market, but the latest Huawei isn't far behind them. If you can get a refurbished or second-hand model of any of those phones, you'll likely have nothing to worry about in terms of picture quality for the next two years. Your quality guide for this is the megapixel count. If photos are vitally important to you, you might prefer to get a newer phone.

How Good Is It At Playing Games? 

This all comes back to what we said earlier about processors. The games that phones are required to play now are very different from the games that phones played twenty years ago when 'Snake' was popular. Nowadays, people expect their handsets to cope with the latest mobile version of 'Fornite.' There's good news here, though. The first thing to remember is that recently, video games have been taking cues from online slots websites. You don't need to own a casino to play an online slots UK, and you no longer need to own a console to play a video game. Services like Google Stadia mean that games can be played via streaming from servers elsewhere - the exact same way that online slots websites serve their customers - and so there's no strain on your hardware. The second thing to remember is that processors don't improve all that much from year to year. So long as your refurbished phone is well-maintained, there's no reason that a two-year-old phone can't run games just as well as a brand new one can. 

What's The Battery Life Like? 

This is the real killer when it comes to picking up a second-hand or refurbished model. Even with the best will in the world and a very careful owner, the life cycle of a phone's battery will depreciate over time. Apple has even cited this as the reason they deliberately slow their older phone models down over time. There's nothing that can be done to avoid this - it's a process of simple wear and tear that will happen to every phone. It's possible in some cases to acquire a new or refurbished battery at the same time you acquire your refurbished phone, but from a practical point of view, this often pushes the cost up so high that you might as well just bite the bullet and get a new phone. It's not all bad news, though. The competitiveness of your second-hand phone's battery life will depend on how good the phone was when it was brand new. A two-year-old 'flagship' phone from a major provider like Samsung might have a better battery life than a brand new budget phone from a lesser-known provider because it uses superior parts. 

How Much Storage Does It Come With? 

Here's another factor that can kill the effectiveness of older phones. While the size of the average mobile phone isn't getting all that much bigger (unless you choose to buy a phone with an enormous screen), the amount of storage inside them is. Thirty-two gigabytes used to be considered a massive amount of space. Now it's considered insufficient, and 128GB is about the industry average. That will probably double a year from now, and double again the year after. Modern apps take up so much space that you can find yourself running short surprisingly quickly, and if you allow apps like WhatsApp to store all picture and video content directly to your phone, you'll find the space disappearing even faster. This doesn't have to be a barrier to buying an older phone if you apply a little creative thinking to the problem, though. We live in the age of cloud storage. So long as you're comfortable with the idea of your phone constantly backing everything up to the cloud (use a solid password, and you should be fine), there's no reason to store anything on your phone at all. An uncluttered old phone will run faster than a cluttered new one, and you'll get much more life out of it. 

If budget is no issue, then it's better to buy a new phone than an old one in almost all cases. If you're inclined to save a little cash, though, and you don't mind sacrificing a little space or speed, last year's flagship phones are still capable of delivering high performance. Don't feel trapped by a sneaky salesperson - consider all of your options carefully before making a decision.

 

 


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