Buying a New iPhone or Android Phone? What to Look For

Popular high-end phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, the Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra pack huge performance, amazing camera systems and an array of features designed to make everyday tasks easier. But these premium phones come with high prices to match, which means they may not be the best option if you just need a decent device without the bells and whistles.

The amount of choices from a variety of phone manufacturers should make shopping simple, but sometimes it makes it more confusing, whether you’re looking for the highest-quality, elite phone or a more affordable phone like the Pixel 5A 5G. The best devices on the market not only have different price tags, but also different camera specs, screen sizes and storage capacities.

In this article
Top phone-buying tips
Performance vs. budget
4G or 5G?
Camera performance
Processor performance
How much storage do you need?
To help you cut through some of the jargon and spend your money right, I’ve put together my tips for buying a phone in 2022.

How to buy a new phone: Top phone-buying tips
Know what you care about most: Is it screen size? Camera quality? Battery life? This will help narrow down your choices. Phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, for example, pack incredible cameras that almost rival the quality you’d get from a DSLR. If you’re a photographer, then spending money here is a good idea. If not, you can likely save yourself a bundle.
Don’t discount the midrange: Features of last year’s flagships always trickle down to this year’s midrange handsets. You can get a great phone that does almost everything that a premium phone can do for a fraction of the price. Google’s Pixel 6 Pro packs a great zoom camera, but the base Pixel 6 has most of the same key specs and comes at a more reasonable price.
Shop the sales: Look for deep discounts and promo deals around major holidays, especially Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday. And find out what your grace period is in case you need a quick return or exchange.
Last year’s phones: They can often be a great deal, too. Wait for this year’s launch to get last year’s phone for less, when stores and carriers may be trying to offload their existing stock.
Hold the phone at a store first: You may love or hate the way it looks and feels in person.
Check if you’re already invested: Have you already bought a lot of iPhone apps and iTunes movies? Stick with an iPhone if you still want access to them. Likewise, if you’ve invested in loads of Android apps, you’ll want to stay on that side of the fence. Otherwise, it’s simple enough to switch platforms.
Buy a case and screen protector: You’ll protect your phone from costly damage, and will increase the phone’s resale or trade-in value for when you’re ready to move on.
Oneplus 9 phone plugged into a charging cable
Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Smartphone performance vs. budget
In general, performance lines up with cost. The very latest, greatest technology usually comes at a premium. Flagship phones pack the best cameras, the most powerful processors and may even sport cutting-edge tech like flexible displays. The high prices mean that these phones are only worth considering for those who want the absolute latest tech in their pockets.

Not everyone needs such top tech however, or may simply be unwilling to spend the $1,000 or more typically required to get it. Luckily, the midrange sector of the phone world has been one of the fiercest battlegrounds for companies to compete in, resulting in some amazing phones that won’t break the bank. Features like wireless charging and cameras with multiple lenses that were once the domain of flagships are now commonplace on midrange phones.

Even budget phones will still offer decent camera quality and enough power for you to enjoy all of your everyday web browsing, WhatsApp’ing and Instagramming.

4G or 5G?
5G is the latest standard that promises lightning-fast mobile data speeds when you’re out and about. Like any new technology, it’s commonplace to see it on higher-end devices but it’s also increasingly common to find on much more affordable phones too.

Coverage for 5G isn’t everywhere yet, so it’s important to ask yourself whether you need 5G speeds at all and crucially, whether they’re available where you live. If you’re planning on keeping your phone for at least a couple of years, you can safely expect 5G to become more of the norm in that time. If you’re on the fence about it now, it may be that in nine months you’ll feel differently and might regret not taking the plunge sooner.

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