Smartphone buying tips

A portable form factor, combined with the ease of operation using only one finger – which I coined as “Power of One” devices – smartphones have become ubiquitous devices that are always connected to the internet, aka the cloud, and always with you.

While we use a smartphone in the real world, it is a vehicle into the digital world that supports the duality-in-lifestyle of living in both real and digital worlds simultaneously. There are no beginnings nor endings to these worlds; they coexist and are interwoven, blurring the boundaries as technology continues to permeate into every nook-and-cranny of our lives.

I thought it would be fun to put together couple tips about smartphones and their service providers. With premium smartphones costing upwards of $1,000 or more, buying new smartphones for a family of four, including services for each, may leave a big dent in your monthly budget.

Times have changed from when cellular phones were subsidized heavily in exchange for signing a two-year service contract … or have they really? Gone are “contracts” carriers claim, replaced by interest-free installment payments for customers with good credit to pay for that new smartphone over 24 months. Fine print: the balance owed becomes due immediately if you try to jump ship to another carrier. Sounds similar to unlimited data plans that have an artificial ceiling where throttling that leads to slowdowns is explained in very small type.

In this industry, “subscriber number” (the number of customers a carrier has) is one of the metrics that goes into ranking mobile service providers. When price wars flare up, you often see advertisements such as “buy one, get one free” (“BOGO” for short), enticing you to jump ship to a new carrier. Such deals may also include the new carrier paying off what you owe on your phone at the incumbent carrier. This is why, in my opinion, you have the potential to save if you decide to change providers during these campaigns and you need new phones!

If you don’t have a preference of a particular make and model, like an iPhone (model) exclusively offered by Apple (make), you are presented with more options in varying price-points from smartphone manufacturers licensing Google’s Android operating system. Sure, Android-based smartphones also have premium smartphone models costing $1,000+ from various manufacturers but they also offer lower – for example entry and medium – pricing tiers where the models from those tiers are still appropriate for many.

This is where I think you can save some money, even if you pay in installments with zero percent interest, by considering Android-based smartphones due to the abundance of makes and models to choose from at different pricing tiers.

Whatever make and model, the basic “functionality” of a smartphone is the same. Rather, it boils down to your preferences sans some geeky details. It’s akin to the preference in buying a Subaru Outback, Toyota RAV-4, or Ford Escape as your next all-wheel-drive car before the white stuff hits Cleveland in several months to get you from Point A to Point B.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 11, Issue 16, Posted 9:17 AM, 08.20.2019