This article was co-authored by Mobile Kangaroo. Mobile Kangaroo is a full service repair shop and Apple Authorized Service Provider headquartered in Mountain View, CA. Mobile Kangaroo has been repairing electronic devices such as computers, phones, and tablets, for over 19 years, with locations in over 20 cities.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 169,869 times.
Buying directly from a mobile carrier like Verizon and AT&T or a smaller carrier like Republic Wireless, Tello Mobile or Google Fi (formerly Project Fi), is usually the easiest way to go about buying a new phone. After all, most of us have been buying from our carriers for a decade or more.
When you own your phone outright you always have the option to sell it and buy a new one. Most carriers offer a program to trade in your phone when you buy a new one, but in many cases selling your phone outright on a site like eBay or Swappa can actually net you more money for your phone as compared to a trade in. This is especially true for iPhones, which tend to go for a premium.
Buying a phone from a retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, or Walmart has many of the same benefits (and drawbacks) that you would get from buying direct from the brands themselves, but I wanted to separate retailers out in to their own category for a few reasons.
First, most retailers will push customers toward a payment plan. They do this because they get a kickback from the carrier for signing customers up, and carriers want customers on payment plans as we discussed earlier. Some stores such as Best Buy have priced phones an additional $50 higher to dissuade customers from buying outright, so be sure to comparison shop if you plan to buy outright.
I'm that 5G guy. I've actually been here for every \"G.\" I've reviewed well over a thousand products during 18 years working full-time at PCMag.com, including every generation of the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S. I also write a weekly newsletter, Fully Mobilized, where I obsess about phones and networks.
Although buying an unlocked phone may not save you money at checkout, it can be a better value in the long run. Unlocked phones give you the freedom to shop around and move between carriers for the best deal when needed. You can also resell an unlocked phone at any time if you want to upgrade.
Sure, you can spend a few hundred dollars on a brand-new midrange phone, but you also might be able to score one of last year's flagship models, which likely offers better specs and performance, for the same midrange price. When new phones are released, older models are usually discounted, and carriers frequently offer the same, or similar, promotions on these phones as they do on the new versions.
Look for guaranteed trade-in promotions from carriers or manufacturers and compare them with prices at Best Buy and Gazelle. Dedicated trade-in sites aren't quite as seamless as swapping your old phone out to the same store where you're picking up your new one, but they often pay more money. Just be sure to give an accurate assessment of the quality of your phone for the best estimate. Samsung, in particular, is good about accepting trade-ins, especially old iPhones and Pixels.
Even the most expensive phone is basically just a fancy brick if it doesn't have service. There are a lot of options out there beyond AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, and they can save you a lot of money. Once you find the right phone, head over to our story on the best cheap phone plans to find the right cost-effective service for you.
The huge number of choices from a variety of phone manufacturers should make shopping simple, but sometimes this makes it more confusing, whether you're looking for the highest-quality, elite phone or a more affordable phone, like the Google Pixel 6A. The best devices on the market not only have different prices, they also have different camera specs, screen sizes and storage capacities.
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.
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.
All phones have gotten steadily bigger over the last few years, with the iPhone 14 Pro Max measuring a whopping 6.68 inches and the Galaxy S23 Ultra coming in at 6.8 inches. Small phones aren't that common anymore but there are a few options to consider if you don't want a massive screen stretching out your pockets.
Apple opted not to update the iPhone 13 Mini this year, but it is still officially on sale through the Apple Store and at 5.4-inches it's quite a lot smaller than the 6.1-inch iPhone 14. On the Android side, the Google Pixel 6A's 6.1-inch display makes it one of the better smaller phones, but even then it's hardly what you'd call tiny.
Camera features have been a major point for bragging rights in recent phones, with manufacturers always wanting a bigger, more exciting number, be it the number of megapixels or quantity of actual camera lenses. Three rear cameras are now common -- a regular lens, an ultrawide lens and a telephoto lens -- with even budget-focused phones packing multiple cameras.
This is great, as more lenses mean more shooting options when you're out and about. But that doesn't mean that any multilens camera is as good as another. As with processor performance, the more you spend, the better the results you'll typically get, with the absolute best cameras around usually being found on the most expensive flagships.
Look out for features like optical (rather than digital) zooms, night mode for better low-light images, and optical image stabilization. Sometimes these features might not be clear, and it's not possible to judge a camera's performance just by looking at the specs. If you really care about your phone's photography skills, then take some time to look at the reviews and see how its camera performs before you spend your money.
Most phones, from the budget end through to elite flagships, can last most of a day on a single charge. Bigger phones might have bigger batteries, but they also have bigger screens and often more powerful processors, so they suck that extra juice down quickly. Few phones will give you more than a day of use. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Top-end phones pack powerful processors along with 12GB of RAM or even more. It's enough to make these phones run any task without breaking a sweat, but you don't need to spend flagship level money to get great performance.
Most decent midrange phones offer enough power to handle all of your everyday needs. You'll still be able to play almost any game from the Google Play store and edit your high-resolution photos in apps such as Snapseed. There's little you could throw at most midrange phones that they wouldn't be able to handle.
Most phones, even the budget ones, come with at least 32GB of storage, of which 10 may be taken up by preinstalled apps and the phone's operating system. If you don't ever plan on recording any video and gaming isn't your thing, 32GB might be enough, but otherwise you should consider 64GB or even 128GB to be a minimum.
Higher-end phones -- particularly those that can record high quality 4K video -- offer capacities of 256GB or more. With that much space, you'll barely need to think twice about having to clear out old files.
If the phone supports microSD cards then it's a different matter, as you can pick up 32GB microSD cards (or bigger) for very little money these days and popping one into your phone will dramatically increase the amount of storage you'll have access to. Unfortunately expandable storage is a very rare feature on phones these days.
After I check out Amazon, I look at other online retailers online because online shopping is easiest. You can compare many options from almost anywhere including your current cell phone service provider.
The biggest sales tend to pop up on phones one generation old when a new phone comes out. For instance, you can probably get a good deal on the iPhone 13 right after the iPhone14 comes out.
If you do buy your cell phone outright and pay for it in full up front, consider purchasing your phone on a credit card. It may offer extended warranty protection, accidental breakage protection in the first 90 days or even free cell phone insurance. 59ce067264