Google’s Android operating system has a lot going on for it but, among its many victories, what arguably stands out the most is its open nature. In addition to enabling the installation of applications from anywhere, Android allows extensive customization, which means you can easily swap homescreen launchers, change your keyboard, set your favorite apps as default, among many other things.
On a broader perspective, Android’s openness has encouraged a large community of manufacturers, developers and enthusiasts to use the open-source code as software for both new and existing devices. Consequently, the number of mobile devices running Android at their core has risen exponentially, from about 5000 different handsets to more than 25,000 gadgets in use today.
Therefore, while going the iOS way will limit you to a couple of expensive iPhones and iPads, Android OS offers a wide variety of phones and tablets to choose from, regardless of preference or budget constraints.
If you’re looking to buy a budget-friendly smartphone, therefore, you’re better off taking your exploits to the Android world. That said, although you won’t be deprived of options, getting the best value for your money could prove a challenge. How do you ensure the phone you pick off the shelf is the best your money can buy?
Below are five undeniable tips to striking a bargain when shopping for an Android smartphone.
1. Make the right compromises
Budget smartphones often come with a few downplayed features which result from the manufacturers’ efforts to keep the price tag as low as possible. For the best bang for the buck, you’ll want to lend a close eye on the phones that come with the least number of compromises, especially in the areas you deem necessary.
If you love mobile gaming, for example, go for the phone that offers a well-sized, decent quality screen and reasonable hardware to handle your favorite titles, while staying within your budget. Factors like elegance and portability are less important considerations to a mobile gamer.
Keeping in mind how you’ll be using your phone is key to making a budget-conscious purchase. By understanding how you use it, you will know what areas you can and cannot make comprises.
2. Some research won’t hurt
Just as you would do before making a costlier purchase like a car or house, due diligence is essential to earning a good smartphone deal. Sure, the need for a new phone could be too dire to spare the time, but a few minutes on the Internet is usually all it takes to narrow down your potential picks to the best value Android smartphones.
Expert websites like CNet and TechRadar feature impressively detailed and frequently updated guides to the most reasonably-priced handsets on the market and are therefore a great place to start.
3. Know the best time to shop
Identifying when to buy a smartphone is essential if you’re aching for a bargain. The right time normally depends on the entry of new gadgets to the market, as well as price cut announcements by manufacturers and retailers.
For the best chance at a decent value smartphone, visit stores when there’s a good number of recently unveiled flagships. In addition to the many options to choose from, getting the latest phones will buy you enough time to spend with your new device before it’s rendered outdated by upcoming releases.
However, if the price of high-end flagship smartphones is too steep for your wallet, consider dialing down your prospects to the previous models, which are usually subject to price cuts a few weeks before or after the new versions are announced.
4. Choose the right payment method
These days, there are more options than ever when it comes to handing over the money to buy your smartphone. For most people, the familiar way is with a contract. The years old process involves paying a carrier a small fraction of the total cost of the phone and then paying off the rest over the length of the contract.
Although the cheapest up-front way to get your hands on the high-end devices, contracts lock you with your carrier of choice until the term expires. Nevertheless, if you want the latest Droid on the market without breaking the bank and getting an unlocked phone isn’t among your first priorities, signing a contract is an excellent option.
5. Consider a refurbished or used device
One advantage of the fast rate of update releases is that smartphones hardly stay a year in the limelight. This means a “used” Android phone in the current market may only be a few months old. Online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist are swarming with people selling their used handsets, most of which offer great value for the money.
Alternatively, you can opt for a refurbished high-end device. Contrary to popular belief, a refurb doesn’t always mean the phone had a problem. Even something as minor as damaged packaging can send a gadget back to the company. Moreover, manufacturer refurbs typically undergo rigorous testing before they’re reintroduced to the market, and some even come with warranties.
Buying a used or refurbished smartphone admittedly has its risks, but sufficient research and a bit of luck can land you an incredible deal.
Click here for more insight on refurbished and second-hand gadgets.
Shopping for an Android smartphone can be quite the task, but it’s especially challenging if you’re running on a stiff budget. Nonetheless, the tips above will help you get the best out of what you have. All that’s left now is to go forth, read some reviews and weigh your options.
But above all, don’t forget that the best bargain can only be struck by getting a phone that suits your particular needs. The variety of quality Android smartphones can be intimidating, but with enough patience and careful consideration, you’ll very likely find what’s perfect for you.