It must be September, because Apple’s back up on stage with another epic announcement about another epic iPhone. This time it’s the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and this year’s devices are casually crossing the four figure price point without apology. The good news is, you absolutely don’t need one.
How to Save Money When Buying a Smartphone
That’s kind of a trick question The way to save money on a new smartphone is not to buy one. I’m not just saying that to be clever, though.
So each year there’s a new iPhone, but is there really anything wrong with your old one? Unless you put a high heel through the screen, no, there isn’t. Here’s how to save yourself an easy grand by giving your existing smartphone a new lease of life rather than bankrupting yourself on the latest model.
Style Never Goes Out of Fashion
Every smartphone has its own cool design points but when it really comes down to it you never look at the brushed finish back, sleek contours or revolutionary camera placement. You look at the screen, and in that respect alone it’s hard to tell one smartphone from another.
So make your existing phone feel fresh by heading over to eBay and getting a couple of cheap new cases. Pick up some different types, like a slimline hard shell for the back in a cool new colour or a wallet-style case that lets you carry cards and cash along with your phone.
And if the screen’s looking a bit shabby, swap out its scratched up plastic screen protector for a tempered glass one and it’ll look as shiny as the day you first peeled off the factory wrapping.
Update Your Approach to Updates
Launch the App Store or Google Play on your device, and turn off automatic updates for your apps.
When a new model of phone comes out, apps on existing phones are required to work harder. This results in the same apps running slower and breaking down on older devices, prompting you to think the phone is past its best and that it’s time for an upgrade.
Cunning, eh? But if you don’t arbitrarily update them every week, you don’t fall prey to this naughty tactic.
However, do check in every now and then and take a look at what the app developer is saying about their latest update. If it’s a security issue, you can bet they’re going to tell you all about it. In that case, run the update.
If they say “bug fixes” or “performance improvements”, forget it.
Power to the People
Admittedly, this is one for the more ambitious among us.
Battery life is one of our main reasons for upgrading a smartphone to new models like the iPhone XS. The truth is, the battery is the one component in your smartphone or tablet that does actually degrade, and there’s no fixing it. All you can do is swap it.
The good news is that a new battery is readily available and very cheap (in the £10-£20 range, usually). The bad news is that it takes guts to crack open an iPhone and swap it yourself. There are thousands of excellent tutorials online however, and as someone who’s been inside dozens of iPhones I can tell you it’s not as bad as you think.
Even so, if you’d rather not do it yourself, you’ll still save a fortune by taking your current phone into a shop and asking the experts to do it (and I’m not talking about Apple stores or their “geniuses”. The phone repair shops on the high street are the people to recruit here).
Or maybe go for a new case with a battery extender built in, to even things out.
Every new model of iPhone bumps up the size of the memory, and the iPhone XS is no different. A whopping 512GB sounds tasty, I don’t mind admitting!
But with free cloud services out there like Google Drive, Dropbox and Google Photos, you can easily offload your storage and free up memory on the device itself. Wifi is everywhere now, so with a bit of forethought you don’t even have to stress out about eating up your data with cloud storage. Plus, if you break your phone your files are still safe.
Android phones offer some great memory management apps like Clean Master and GO Speed, and there’s a cunning trick you can use on your iPhone too.
Let it run out of space deliberately. If you’re close to the limit, ask it to download an app that’s too big and the iPhone will give you options to free up space while automatically clearing out all the cached files and dead memory that it keeps in reserve for no particularly good reason. You’ll suddenly find that running out of space frees up more than you had before.
It’s All About the Specs
If you really must have a new phone, don’t just get an iPhone XS because Apple told you to or all your mates are cooing over them. Shop around, and learn what the tech specs really mean.
You’ll find that super-cheap Chinese Android smartphones from the likes of Xiaomi, Doogee, Ulephone and Huawei often beat even the latest iPhone in terms of power, storage, megapixels and more. You just have to learn to speak the techno-lingo a little bit.
Compare things like “mAh” (milliamps per hour) to understand what kind of battery life you can expect, and “LTE” and “HSPA” bandwidths so you can be sure the phone’s 4G data works in the UK (you’ll be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t, but just FYI, if it’s got bands 8 and 20, it’ll work in the UK).
You’ll find other amazing features that Apple will never touch, too, like dual SIM cards, SD memory cards for even more storage, and massive batteries. In terms of screen, the higher the resolution the more battery it uses so looking for something that’s deliberately low res can be a huge benefit. Your eye can’t actually pick out the difference between 1080P and ultra-mega-retina displays anyway. Retina is a marketing gimmick and only serves to drain the battery.
So don’t add to the planet’s already catastrophic e-waste problem, and save yourself several month’s wage by keeping your current smartphone alive for a good five years before looking into upgrades.
You don’t need one.