HomeTechnologyNewsCheap phones shouldn't exist – Review Geek

Cheap phones shouldn’t exist – Review Geek

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Justin Duino/Review Geeks

All phones should be made with flagship quality. This would increase the price of new devices, but lead to a strong aftermarket, extended software support, and increased repairability.

Smartphones put ridiculous pressure on our wallets. And ironically, getting rid of cheap phones could ease this tension. Manufacturers need to build high-quality smartphones that will last a decade, replacing cheap new phones with a strong, consumer-friendly aftermarket.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with buying a cheap smartphone. If I didn’t work in tech, I’d probably be using one! My complaint is that cheap phones encourage waste in the smartphone market – we should reuse well phones, not replacing bad The telephones.

Cheap vs. Expensive: What’s the real difference?

Samsung Galaxy S22 app drawer
Justin Duino/Review Geeks

Everyone has their unique shopping habits, but generally speaking, we all share one basic idea: we believe that new things are better than old. This is especially true when it comes to electronics, as it’s hard to keep up with the endless stream of technological “improvements” and “advancements.”

Smartphone technology improved at a rapid pace in the late 2000s and early 2010s. But things have slowed down a bit. If you take a two-year-old iPhone and compare it to the most recent model, you’ll find that they’re not that different. The same goes for Android devices.

But what happens when you compare an old “expensive” phone with a new “cheap” phone? Well, you’ll quickly learn that the old flagship is better than the shiny new budget device. It will use a faster processor and its camera quality will look similar to that of a new flagship.

Take the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example. This phone is around $300 in the aftermarket, but it uses a Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and has outrageously good cameras. Newer phones of a similar price, like the Moto Edge, fall short of the Galaxy S20 Ultra in benchmark benchmark tests and have noticeably worse cameras.

Cheap phones also tend to lack important features like wireless charging. And they often suffer from strange problems that the manufacturer never fixes. The iPhone SE is a good example; their cell service is ridiculously unreliable.

Not to mention, flagship phones have a much higher build quality than budget options. And this goes beyond looks: flagship devices use durable Gorilla Glass and are certified dust and water resistant. Cheap phones, on the other hand, use cheap glass and rarely bother with IPX water resistance certification. If you’re clumsy, you might find yourself buying a cheap new phone every year!

Flagship phones should have a decade of support

A blurry photo of the Google Pixel 7 on a fancy looking grassy plant.
Andrew Heinzman/Review Geek

It’s clear that an old flagship will outperform any new budget phone. But here’s the problem; Android smartphones only get a few years of software updates. The Galaxy S20 Ultra that I mentioned earlier will get its latest security update in 2024. After that, it will slowly become vulnerable to hackers and malware.

To be fair, cheap Android phones rarely get more than a year of updates. And some cheap phones never get updated! But the point still stands: if we’re getting rid of cheap phones, we need manufacturers to offer a decade of software support for flagships. That’s the only way to build a strong aftermarket where high-quality phones are affordable and durable.

Some manufacturers are inching toward this level of software support. Samsung and Google now promise five years of security updates for their latest flagship products. But Apple is the reigning champion, as it still supports the iPhone 8, which was released in 2017.

In fact, the iPhone is a great example of why we should ditch cheap phones. Rather than stretch out with a bunch of cheap devices, Apple is focusing its energy on supporting a small selection of premium iPhones. It’s not unusual for someone to buy an iPhone that’s three or four years old, but the same can’t be said for Android products.

The only wart in Apple’s lineup is the iPhone SE. It’s cheap to make and as a result doesn’t hold up to older iPhones selling for the same price.

Of course, repairability is part of the equation.

Removing the battery from a Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.
I fix it

Even with extended software support, a smartphone may not last more than a few years. Falls, spills and other accidents are inevitable. And if you don’t break your phone, its battery will eventually wear out and become unusable.

These problems can be fixed. Repair companies are everywhere, and the aftermarket for phone parts is pretty robust. The problem is that fixing a phone is usually more expensive or difficult than buying a new one.

If manufacturers get rid of cheap phones and provide extended support for flagships, they must also make these devices easily repairable. Screen replacements should be inexpensive and it should only take a few minutes to replace a phone’s battery.

Repairability is slowly becoming a major issue, and right-to-repair legislation is popular on both sides of the aisle. Additionally, companies like Google and Samsung now work directly with iFixit, a website that sells parts and publishes device repair guides. Things are looking up in this area.

That being said, the average person still can’t fix their own phone. And the move away from cheap, disposable phones won’t happen until repair becomes a priority.

This dream probably won’t come true

The camera array of the OnePlus Nord N10 5G.
Andrew Heinzman/Review Geek

Getting rid of cheap smartphones could help us save money and reduce waste. But cheap phones aren’t going anywhere. Buyers are entrenched in their habits, manufacturers won’t offer a decade of software support to anythingand right-to-redress legislation will only enhance the ability to redress for those who actively seek it.

Also, a lot of companies would crash and burn if everyone kept their phone for more than two years. I’m not sure any corporation, investor, or economist would appreciate the idea I’m suggesting.

As of this writing, Motorola is the third largest smartphone brand in the United States. And it is, for the most part, a budget brand. Samsung is in second place, and a decent part of its sales comes from cheap “A-series” devices.

The only outlier is Apple, which ranks first. It has a large market share because it has loyal customers and offers several years of software updates for the iPhone. If Apple decides to adopt the “cheap phones shouldn’t exist” mentality, other companies might Follow the example. But given Apple’s track record with repair ability, I’m guessing this is another dead end.


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