Finances are always a factor when buying anything, and mobiles are no exceptions. And whilst top-end flagship phones are going for close to 600,000 nowadays, there are plenty of budget options available. In fact, there are more budget Android phones than ever on shelves, some for as low as 20,000. The real question though is whether those cheap Android phones are worth it, so let’s take a look…
It’s Cheap for a Reason
Let’s start with the basic truth: a cheap Android is cheap for a reason. That reason might not necessarily be a bad reason, but it’s there. No matter what you might think from spec sheets, reviews, or advertising, a cheap Android is NOT going to offer you a comparable user experience to something more expensive. However, you might not be looking for a flagship user experience. There are really two things that make a cheap Android phones cheap.
Reason 1: Hardware
The primary reason for that cheap price tag is going to be hardware. Manufacturing costs have to be cut in order to keep consumer prices low, and downgrading hardware is the easiest way to do this. A cheap Android will likely have lower processing and chip specs (meaning less power), lower display specs (meaning less clarity in the screen), and less special features (such as great cameras, tons of internal memory, that kind of thing).
Lower hardware specs aren’t necessarily a dealbreaker though. In all honesty, the kind of top end specs that you’re getting on a flagship phone is far more than most regular users will need, so sacrificing on these a little to get a lower price doesn’t have to be negative.
Reason 2: Long-Term Reliability
The secondary reason there might be more important, however, and that’s one of reliability. First up, cheap Android phones are generally not as robust as their more expensive brethren. This can mean that they break easily, casings crack, screens shatter, they just don’t survive everyday life as well as pricier models.
But more importantly, cheaper Androids can suffer in the update department. Phone updates are important. An update gives you more security, allows you to use the latest apps, and basically keeps things running smoothly on your phone. But a lower priced phone (especially if it’s an older model) may only support updates for a limited amount of time. This makes the mobile’s long-term outlook pretty bleak.
You know the saying ‘you get what you pay for’? In terms of long-term reliability, this is certainly true. So if you’re looking for a phone that’s going to last you a while, then a low price Android might not be the best decision.
So What Do I Look For?
Going low price isn’t always a bad thing, and if you’re on a budget, then, by all means, go for a low priced Android. But you do need to shop a little more carefully than those people who opt for flagship models.
The first thing you should be looking for is specs. Mediocre specs are fine, but you don’t want to go too low or you’ll risk having a phone that won’t do what you need. Look for processing power that’s more than 1.2 GHz, look for a chipset that’s no more than 3 years old (easy to check on the chip manufacturer’s Wiki), look for a display that’s at least 720p, and look for a bare minimum of 8 GB of internal memory (though 16 GB is much better).
If you’re looking for something that’s reliable, then see what the hand feel is like. Does the phone feel robust in your hand, is it sturdy? Consider investing in a cover and screen protector, just to keep your phone safe. There’s not a lot you can do about updates since that’s outside of your control. But newer phones are more likely to receive updates for a longer period of time, so look at models that are no more than 2 years old. Also, look for the most recent version of Android that you can find (since the newer the Android version is the more likely you are to receive updates on it).
Is It Really Worth It?
It’s tough to say whether a cheap Android phone is really worth it since that’s really going to depend on your situation and the phone model you choose. But think about the maths. You could spend, say, 360,000 Naira on a top end phone that will last you for a solid five years or so (historically, manufacturers support updates on their top end models for at least five years). Or you could spend 50,000 Naira on a phone that’s going to last you for maybe a year and will then need replacing (which, if you had to do that every year for the five year period that you’d have that top end phone would still end up costing you 400,000, so you’re not getting great savings).
Of course, you might not need to replace that cheap phone every year. But by spending a little more, on a decent mid-range phone, you’ll increase your chances of being able to keep your phone for longer and maintain some resale value. It’s all a matter of risk taking and, frankly, luck.
Bottom Line Time
There is nothing wrong with not opting for an expensive flagship phone. In fact, you’ll probably be better off since most users don’t need all the functions and power of a top end model anyway. But you should know that the cheaper the model you opt for the more likely it is that your new phone isn’t going to last very long.
While there’s nothing wrong with going budget, the safest option is to go for the best phone that you can reasonably afford. Go for the top end of your budget, rather than being tempted by low, low prices. If you can afford 50,000, don’t go for the 30,000 option. There are plenty of decent cheaper Android phones on the market, but finding them is a question of doing your research and being prepared to take the risk that you could be buying yet another phone in a few months time.