It’s Christmas shopping time, which means the smartphones we have in our pockets will suddenly start randomly crashing and melting their battery life to tempt us to buy new phones. If you’re looking for a replacement phone to end the year, you might be wondering which is better: a recent phone or an older phone that you know what to expect.

If money is no object, then treat yourself to the latest phone available. You will benefit from the latest technology and have a reliable pocket companion that will accompany you for years.

But for those who want to save money, the dilemma then becomes: “should you buy a new mid-range phone or an old high-end phone?

Both may cost the same, but may not offer the same benefits.

You should buy an old flagship if…

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in hand

Image: Matthew Miller/ZDNET

1. You want impeccable finish quality

Many would say that the smartphone industry has hit a ceiling in recent years. Unless you’re into foldable devices, most mobiles have looked pretty similar in recent years, at least from a hardware standpoint. This is good news if you want to buy an older high-end phone.

Take the example of last year’s Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which received a lot of praise. It’s no longer the $1,000 flagship it once was — a quick search finds the product around $500 — but the Gorilla Glass, metal/aluminum frame mix can easily rival the build quality of today’s high-end mobiles, while easily outperforming mid-range ones.

In addition, most flagships are IP68 certified, i.e. water and dust resistant. This certification becomes less universal as you go down the range.

2. Photo performance is another priority

Much like the build quality, the camera quality aged like fine wine on the flagships. Although modern cameras are equipped with lenses and sensors capable of capturing more distant subjects and better low-light images, it should be remembered that a smartphone two or three years old can be used for shots. occasional view. In fact, sharp features like 4K video recording and portrait mode selfies have been around for years now, so you won’t be missing out on much by settling for an older model.

Still, if you were to compare the camera performance of a year-old flagship with that of current mid-range devices, you’d be surprised how often the former is better. That’s not to say that new $400-$500 phones are bad, the iPhone SE or the Google Pixel 6a take great photos and videos. You’ll simply find an arsenal of greater photography tools on the older flagships, especially when it comes to autofocus and image stabilization.

Person taking picture with iPhone

Image: Jason Hiner/ZDNET

3. Screen quality matters to you

As more and more companies start prioritizing display quality, even on budget devices, you’ll still have to scratch to find a last-gen device under $500 that has both an OLED screen and a high refresh rate. There are exceptions, such as the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, but overall the screens of older flagships outperform those of modern mid-range devices in terms of viewing angles, color reproduction, brightness, lag touch, and more.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

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You should consider a new mid-range phone if…

OnePlus Nord N20 5G in hand

Image: June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want an extra year or two of software updates

I cannot stress enough the importance of software updates and security patches. They aim to protect devices against the latest security vulnerabilities while providing you with an optimized software experience. While it’s true that flagship phones are usually at the top of companies’ priority lists for updates — and they get four to seven years of software support — buying an older device means that part of this time has already been consumed.

On the contrary, a new mid-range phone comes with fresh promises. So you can expect to get an extra year or two of software updates compared to an older device.

2. You are allergic to refurbished

You may have seen ads on Amazon that feature “refurbished” smartphones. This is a fancy way of saying that refurbishers have carefully inspected the devices, replaced the parts that no longer worked, and now consider them to be “like new”. Unfortunately, depending on the platform and retailer you buy your phone from, warranties and parts quality aren’t always as strong as with new devices.

The main reason is that not all retailers have the same parts and components as the official manufacturer, which makes it difficult to repair through official brand channels. Companies are trying to make their original parts more accessible, but all of that wouldn’t be a problem if you were buying a new device, mid-range or not. Be aware, however, that some reconditioners offer warranties that are as comprehensive as on new and are committed to the quality of their products.

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Tarun Kumar

Tarun Kumar has worked in the News sector for 05 years and is currently the Owner and Editor of Then24. He reside in Delhi, India with his Family.

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