Tech purchases of all kinds often end up costing more than you’d like. But smartphone shopping, in particular, forces you to reckon with the amount of money you’re comfortable spending on a device. Some smartphones aren’t as pricy as they used to be, but you still need a new one every year or two or three. So smartphones likely account for a big portion of your gadget-related budget.
Buying a new piece of tech always requires a debate over whether this particular model is worth it, or whether you’d be happy with a lower-priced version. And if you’re familiar with the PC vs. Mac debate, you probably know that Apple’s gadgets are often priced considerably higher than models from its competitors. That applies not just to computers, but also to smartphones.
Huge numbers of people buy iPhones each year, but will an iPhone be worth it for you? If you’re closely watching your spending, it may not be. Ahead are a few of the reasons why you might want to consider an alternative to the pricy iPhone you’ve had your eye on. An iPhone can be a great purchase — but it isn’t always worth its high price tag.
1. Other smartphones are getting cheaper, but the iPhone isn’t
One of our favorite developments in the smartphone world is the rise of cheap flagship phones. These devices cost $400 or less, but still manage to incorporate components that are among the best available when they ship. They may not have as many features as an $800 smartphone, and they don’t necessarily have all of the extras that you’d get with a phone that costs almost $1,000, but they aim to offer performance that’s more than adequate for what you’d need in a typical day. There’s no analog for this Android trend in the iPhone world. (Unless you count the iPhone SE, which offers good performance but a smaller screen size than the average consumer wants.)
2. If you don’t use any taxing apps, you probably don’t need a high-end phone
In the same way that we caution laptop shoppers who just need a machine for casual internet browsing that they probably don’t need an expensive Mac, we’d encourage people who use few heavyweight apps to think twice before spending almost $1,000 on a phone. Playing numerous graphics-heavy games on your phone may make an expensive phone worth it. But light Instagram and Facebook use is hardly enough to necessitate a phone that comes close to the cost of your rent. Think carefully about how you use your phone when you set a budget. From there, you’ll be able to decide whether an iPhone (and its access to the App Store) is worth the price tag.
3. Apple demands a steep upcharge for extra storage
The base price of an iPhone, particularly the $399 iPhone SE, doesn’t sound so bad. But what if you want more storage than is included in the entry-level model, you’ll have to pay more than the base price — a whole lot more. Apple’s fees to move up to the next tier of storage are unnecessarily steep and may make you think twice. With the iPhone SE, the price jumps from $399 for 16GB of storage to $449 for 64GB of storage. With the iPhone 6s, you’ll pay $549 for 32GB of storage, or $649 for 128GB of storage. With the iPhone 7, you’ll pay $649 for 32GB of storage, $749 for 128GB of storage, or $849 for 256GB of storage. More storage quickly, and steeply, increases the price of each model.
4. You need a phone that’s durable and long-lasting — but it doesn’t have to be from Apple
It’s a common misconception that the iPhone is the only phone that’s going to remain fast and enjoyable to use for years after you purchase it. Reviewers and regular consumers alike have found that they can hold onto phones of diverse makes and models for years at a time. If you take good care of your phone, and try not accidentally damaging it, you can probably keep an Android phone running for as long as your buddy has been holding on to his iPhone. In fact, getting your phone to last may be more about being proactive about keeping it performing well than it is about choosing a specific model.
5. Phones other than the iPhone offer everything you need
If you’ve always had an iPhone, it can be hard to imagine life without one. But the truth is that you can get everything you need in a phone with an Android model instead. Take this list of must-have smartphone features as a guide. You’ll want a phone with a great camera, a screen size that’s both comfortable and portable, good battery life, and biometric authentication options — all of which can be found not only on high-end Android phones, but on ones with mid-range prices as well. Look at the iPhone features you like best. Chances are pretty good that you can find them elsewhere.
6. iOS may — or may not — be worth the premium
The one iPhone feature that you definitely can’t get elsewhere is iOS. But is iOS worth the premium? That depends. Some people legitimately find iOS easier to use or more visually appealing than Android. But it may surprise you how quickly you could adjust to a different operating system. Other people value iOS for its constant updates. That’s a tough stance to argue with, though you may want to learn more about which Android manufacturers offer fast Android updates. If you really want an iPhone because of iOS, then perhaps you should consider going with a lower-priced iPhone, like the iPhone SE, or picking up a refurbished iPhone to save some money.
7. An iPhone isn’t the only choice for a first smartphone
If you’re shopping for your first smartphone (or buying a first smartphone for your child), you may think that an iPhone is the only way to go. After all, many people (wrongly) believe that iOS is easier to learn than Android. The truth is that learning any new operating system will require you to put up with a learning curve. Either platform will work (particularly if you don’t need resource-intensive software, or aren’t planning to extensively customize the device). An iPhone can be a good first smartphone — but so can many of the Android phones that are available.