For those looking for a smartphone on a budget, there’s good news: Low-cost devices can perform most of the tasks of more expensive devices, and they serve as wonderful devices to use on a daily basis. However, there are some sacrifices involved when not buying the latest flagship device, and choosing where to save money is important for making the right decision. Here are a few places to look for savings when buying a lower-cost smartphone.
Battery life is important on smartphones, and many people choose to spend more for devices with larger batteries. However, even the smallest batteries found in smartphones today will typically provide enough power even for people who use their phones frequently during the day. Furthermore, many people spend their days at desks where it’s easy to keep their phone plugged in and fully charged. While few budget devices will offer multi-day use, getting in the habit of plugging in your phone regularly can ensure you’re never scrambling to find an outlet.
Large screens have some clear advantages: They’re great for video, and they can fit more text on the screen. However, they generally come at a cost, and there are several advantages to using a smaller screen. People who want to use their phone with one hand will find smaller screens easier to work with, and smaller screens are easy to carry around. The biggest consumer of power on smartphones is screens, so even though smaller devices generally have smaller batteries, they can sometimes offer better battery life. For those looking to watch video frequently on phones, larger screens might be worth the extra cost. For many, however, the convenience of smaller screens makes them preferable devices.
One of the main factors separating phone pricing is how much internal storage they offer, with even modest increases demanding significant improvements. However, many users will be perfectly content with just 16 GB of storage, although 8 GB is likely inadequate for most. Furthermore, it’s worth considering if your target devices offers external storage capabilities. Storing your songs and video on an external device can offer you plenty of space at a lower price, and external storage lets you swap out cards. Note, however, that Android apps often need to run on the main device storage, so 8 GB of internal storage is likely insufficient.
It’s remarkable how high the resolution on smartphone screens has become over the years. However, it’s also worth noting that devices with far lower resolutions offer excellent quality as well, often at a discount. Higher resolutions will make text look a bit crisper, but text as lower resolutions is typically easy to read. The quality on video depends on the source, but it’s rare that a video’s quality will exceed the resolution of even relatively low-cost devices. Make sure to spend time with any phone before making a purchase, but consider saving money by choosing a device with a lower resolution than that of premium devices; there’s a good chance you won’t be able to tell a difference.
Another area where premium devices shine is their cameras. In fact, many premium phones provide two lenses, resulting in better versatility for taking photographs but increasing the cost of the phone. If you always carry a standalone camera with you, your smartphone’s camera will likely make little difference. Furthermore, budget phones typically offer reasonable cameras for nearly all uses, and friends on social media, for example, and unlikely to notice much difference between high-quality and budget photos. For some, camera quality just isn’t high priority, which makes it a reasonable place to save a bit of money.
Phone manufacturers often tout the premium materials they use on phones. For some, paying more for better material is worthwhile, especially for people who use their phones frequently. However, plastic, which nearly all cheaper phones use, is a perfectly viable material, and it offers excellent durability compared to metal, which can dent, and glass, which is easy to shatter. Furthermore, consider if you’ll be using your device with a case, as cases eliminate any of the perceived advantages of premium materials. If practicality matters more to your than feel, consider sticking with plastic devices.
It’s common for more expensive devices to feature dual speakers for stereo audio playback, and many manufacturers tout their phones’ loudness and clear sound. For those who plan on mostly using headphones, however, these advantages are minor. In addition, nearly all phones sold today provide Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy to connect your phone to various speaker options which almost always offer better fidelity than speakers found in even the most expensive phones. Cheaper phones also offer a feature becoming rarer on premium phones: Wired audio output jacks. Those seeking the best sound quality will find wired connections to provide the best audio available, and they’re still nearly ubiquitous on budget and mid-tier devices.
Processor and GPU
Processors on smartphones have certainly improved over the years, with four- and eight-core processor options available. However, the difference in performance these processors provide can be fairly small, and those who don’t use their phones for intensive gaming may not see any advantage of more powerful processors. Furthermore, the graphical chips found on nearly all phones are more than adequate for accessing high-quality video streaming, and the main difference is seen in intensive video games. If you aren’t interested in running the most demanding games on your phones, consider saving money by using a device with more modest processor and GPU capabilities.
All purchases are about priorities, and smartphones are no exception. Fortunately, bad phones are rare these days, and most users will find even the cheapest phones available to provide reasonable performance for day-to-day use. Even if your smartphone budget is limited, there are plenty of options to choose from, and deciding what matters most to you about your phone can help you make the right decision. If possible, make sure to try out your phone in person, as nothing can beat trying out various devices when it comes to determining which will serve you best.
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