A smartphone has become a must-have for many people. I have one. So does everyone I know. Between the two major camps, iPhone and Android, iPhone gets more news coverage. Whenever Apple releases a new iPhone model, it’s all over the news. Whenever Samsung comes out with a new model, not as much, unless it catches fire. OnePlus? Most people never heard of it.
I have used both iPhone and Android. They both work. There’s hardly anything I can do on one that I can’t do on the other. If you are budget conscious you are better off on the Android side. More manufacturers and more models means you can pick a sweet spot between features and prices based on your needs.
In general, the latest and greatest “flagship” models cost $650 and up. Mid-range models cost about $400. Any models $250 and below are considered “budget” models. To me, the “budget” price point offers the best bang of the buck (surprise, surprise). If you choose the right model, you get 95% of the functionality at 1/3 the cost of the latest and greatest.
After testing multiple models, review site The Wirecutter (owned by New York Times) rated Motorola Moto G5 Plus as the best budget Android phone. I saw it at Costco selling for $220. The budget phones are less expensive because they use less expensive lower-spec components: slower processor, less memory, lower resolution display, less sharp cameras, and so on.
Alternatively, you can also buy last year’s flagship model at a similar price to this year’s budget models. To me it’s a better approach. Even though it’s one model year old, a last year’s flagship model still has better components than this year’s budget models, because the phone was designed to be a flagship. It’s less expensive now only because it’s now one year old.
This is similar to buying a one-year-old luxury car versus a new economy car. Except in the case of phones you can still buy last year’s model as brand new with full warranty, and the depreciation is much steeper in phones than in cars.
I recently bought a brand new LG G5 for $260 with full warranty. The LG G5 is a 2016 model. Now that its successor the LG G6 came out, the LG G5 inventories are dumped at very good prices. Here’s how it compares with the best rated budget phone Motorola Moto G5 Plus:
|LG G5||Moto G5 Plus|
|Processor||Snapdragon 820||Snapdragon 625|
|Memory||4 GB||2 GB|
|Storage||32 GB||32 GB|
|Expandable Storage||up to 2,000 GB||up to 128 GB|
|Rear Camera||16 mp||12 mp|
|Front Camera||8 mp||5 mp|
|Android Pay Support||Yes||No|
I bought the GSM unlocked RS988 sub-model. The same phone also comes in other flavors for each major carrier (H820 for AT&T, H830 for T-Mobile, VS987 for Verizon, and LS992 for Sprint). For only $40 more you get a much better phone in last year’s flagship model than this year’s budget model.
Whether something is good or bad has to be judged in the context of its price. At flagship phone prices when it came out a year ago, the LG G5 was probably not the best. One year later, at budget phone prices, it quite easily beats the best budget phone.
You can save even more money if you are willing to buy used. To me a brand new last year’s flagship model with full warranty already gives me good enough value.