If you’ve been waiting to upgrade to a new phone, the second half of the year typically seems like the best time. September will soon be here, and so will the new iPhone 14 series, with Bloomberg reporting that September 7 will be the date. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4 will also go on sale towards the end of August. Brands like Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus already have some new products available in the market. We could see some more releases before the festive season officially sets in around October. After all, the second half of the year is packed with festival sales, discounts and offers on smartphones. So if you want to purchase a new phone or plan to upgrade in the coming months, you need to keep some pointers in mind before you hit buy.
This is the most important factor when deciding on your next phone, and depends entirely on your circumstances and budget. But you will also need to temper expectations depending on the budget. For instance, if you are playing in the Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 market, you might have to compromise somewhere on camera and performance. Phones in this segment might not have the most premium design either.
If you’re willing to pay more than Rs 20,000– say Rs 25,000 and above, it is possible to get better performance, good camera performance, and battery life. If you’re willing to go further– say Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000, there are several mid-premium options to consider now, from brands like Nothing Phone (1) to Google Pixel 6a to OnePlus, the Samsung Galaxy A series to the older iPhones. It might seem like the iPhone is the only choice if you have more money to spend, but that would be a very narrow way of looking at things.
Newer or older variants
This is another distinction to keep in mind, and no, it doesn’t just apply to someone buying an iPhone. There are several older phones in the market for each series, which offer perfectly good performance and specifications, and might be available at a lower price. Especially in the Redmi and Realme series, you might find that some older variants are still up for sale at a discounted price, and you can consider them. If you are on a tight budget and don’t care for the latest processor, the older phones might offer a better deal.
However, there’s also one downside to some older variants. With iPhones, you might want to keep software updates in mind, as these might be limited. Further, many of the older phones might not be 5G-ready, and if you plan to be an early adopter, you might be in for a disappointment. Also, some older 5G-ready phones might have limited band coverage, so this could again be a problem, especially if you plan to pay Rs 25,00 and above.
This brings us to the next topic to remember, which is 5G support. Airtel has already announced plans for its 5G rollout later this month. With the 5G auction now complete, telecom players like Jio, Airtel, Vi will work to bring the network to reality. Many of these companies are already testing out 5G network performance on some of the latest devices launched by smartphone manufacturers.
5G for those who are not aware is the next-gen mobile LTE network, capable of offering much faster downloads, low latency networks. However, your phone needs to support the required 5G bands. As we had noted in this article, the best 5G-ready smartphone supports all major 12 5G bands. But if the phone supports the following bands: n28, n5, n8, n3, n1, n41, n77, and n78, it should be enough. Phones with good 5G coverage are iPhone 13 series, Nothing Phone (1), the Realme GT2 Pro, Galaxy S22 series, the OnePlus 10T, Redmi K50i, Redmi Note 11T Pro, Realme 9 Pro 5G, to name a few.
If you are getting a phone in the above Rs 25,000 range and you are someone who typically uses a device for a year, we would recommend ensuring adequate 5G support should you decide to go for the network upgrade at some point.
Discounts and Timing
The discount season will soon be upon us again, though if you open any e-commerce website, it might seem like everything is on discount all the time. But the thing about discounts is that you should double-check the launch prices. Some products might seem like they are being offered at a deep price cut, which might not be the case. Also for some products, the discount price might include bank offers. Furthermore, you might get a better deal if you are exchanging an older phone. This is typically true when you hand in an older iPhone — these typically tend to fetch a higher exchange value compared to most Android phones.
Another aspect of the sale season is that the exchange offers come with an ‘exchange bonus’. This means that if you trade in the older device, you get the value of the phone, along with an extra bonus to sweeten the deal further. We would also suggest you compare offline and online offers if you are preparing to upgrade. Who knows, your local dealer might offer a better deal in the festive season.
Of course, while it might seem prudent to wait for a festive season sale to get the next big iPhone, OnePlus or Samsung phone, if your phone is in bad shape or almost broken, we suggest you upgrade right now.
Even though we mention this last in the list, this does not mean you should ignore specifications. This aspect is important, especially in the mid-budget (Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000) and mid-range (Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000). You want to pay the best price and get the best specifications.
When we say specifications, we focus on the processor, the amount of RAM and storage you’re getting, and the battery size coupled with fast charging. With the camera, we’ve seen that the megapixel count is no assurance for performance, given there are many software aspects which drive the final result. Still, we recommend you read/watch several reviews, before deciding which phone you wish to buy. Also, if you are considering an older phone, remember that the older chipset might not necessarily mean a compromise in performance. But it may mean no 5G support in some cases. We suggest you also go through the product page and see the full band support for older 5G phones before you decide to buy.