Smartphones are evolving so rapidly that cutting-edge quickly morphs into quaint, en route to anachronistic.
Flip phones, downloadable ringtones and stylus pens are three examples of short-lived technology advances that rapidly fell from grace.
However, advances in design and functionality don’t always mean you have to upgrade to the latest model.
A Samsung Galaxy S9 isn’t markedly different from the S8 in performance or specifications, though it is considerably more expensive.
The same is generally true of Apple products – even though the iPhone X incorporates new technologies like an OLED display, it shares the iPhone 8’s CPU, OS and inductive charging.
Some handsets offer features most consumers simply don’t need, like 4K video recording or triple camera lenses.
So could buying a previous generation handset represent a good deal for consumers?
Price.The biggest benefit of considering a previous generation handset is undoubtedly cost.
Each new generation of mobile handset commands a substantial price premium over its predecessor, becoming increasingly affordable throughout its lifecycle.
By the time its replacement arrives, a handset could be available at half its original RRP – even though its specifications should still be reasonably impressive.
Specifications. Buying an older model might enable you to get a larger screen or a more powerful processor than a similarly-priced new phone could provide.
For instance, it might be possible to get a 64GB smartphone instead of a 32GB one. This is especially useful if it lacks external microSD card storage.
In the absence of groundbreaking new technologies (5G, LiFi), most handsets represent gradual evolutions over their predecessors. Old doesn’t mean obsolete.
Peace of mind. New phones are tactile and appealing, but the expense of buying them outright heightens the pressure to protect and maintain them.
Insurance will be higher, repair costs could be greater, and you’d feel less confident rooting or jailbreaking the latest model than an older device.
If a particular handset was cutting-edge in late 2017, it ought to provide dependable day-to-day service as 2019 dawns.
Prestige. For some people, owning the latest smartphone is as important as decorating with 2019’s Pantone colour (Living Coral) or driving an 18 or 68-plate car.
Owning a previous generation handset implies you aren’t particularly bothered about technology. It certainly won’t impress fashion-conscious friends and colleagues.
Functionality. While most new smartphones represent a gradual evolution, technologies like fingerprint recognition and wireless charging are great leaps forward.
Even if we’ve lived without these advances until now, choosing an older handset brings compromises newer products don’t require.
Operating system. Android owners often purchase a new handset, only to discover it’s running a less advanced operating system than they hoped (or were used to).
Relatively few Android phones have the latest Pie OS installed as standard, and there are handsets on sale today still running Android Marshmallow – three generations out of date.