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Old vs new: what smartphone would you buy?

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Old vs new: what smartphone would you buy?
Each time a friend of ours decides to buy a new phone, we're usually among the first people who they consult with. And being the smartphone-obsessed geeks that we are, we're always able to give them extensive information about what their choices are and which of all the phones out there would best suit their needs or budget. But each time we're asked for our expert opinion, the very same conflict arises: would it be better to buy a high-end smartphone model from last year, or settle with a new mid-range model? Well, giving a universal answer to that is a challenge since there are several pretty solid arguments in favor of either choice. To start,


great "old" phones are now quite cheap.

And we're not talking about second-hand units sold on eBay. Former flagship Android smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation to name a few, can be bought unused and off-contract for half of what they were worth back in 2011, which is about as much as mid-rangers cost today. These former flagships are not bad devices at all given their relevant hardware specs and capabilities. However, things don't look as good on the software side of things. In fact,

major software updates for older phones take forever

or don't come at all, which can be frustrating. Don't believe us? Just ask an owner of the HTC ThunderBolt or LG Optimus 2X "superphone". Having up-to-date software running on your smartphone is important because that makes it more stable and adds certain features that improve the overall user experience – in Android's case, Google Now and Project Butter are two great examples.

Apple in this case is an exception as it provides its users with timely software updates. For example, the iPhone 4, which now runs iOS 6 despite being well over 2 years old. But in general, smartphone manufacturers rarely bother with updating devices they've released more than a year ago. Sure, there are quality custom ROMs available online – made by the online enthusiast communities for a broad range of handsets. Those not familiar with the matter are free to look up CyanogenMod and see what it's all about. However, not every user feels comfortable with altering their handset's software and voiding its warranty along the way.

On the other hand, online smartphone communities are a great source of information about dealing with a device's imperfections. The longer a given handset has been on the market, the more it has been studied and the more feedback about it has been provided by those who already own it. And it is safer to buy a smartphone that is known to be free of glitches, won't you agree?

Sadly, while a smartphone's software can be modified and upgraded, its hardware cannot. And

new phones often feature new technologies

that may come in handy. For example, we've started seeing 4G LTE connectivity present on a number of new mid-range smartphones, such as the US-bound LG Spirit 4G, Samsung Ativ Odyssey, or the HTC One SV, which is offered in many markets around the world. NFC is also a cool perk, which allows one to take advantage of contact-less payments, among other things.

What's your take on this, guys? Would you go with a flagship smartphone from last year, or you'd prefer buying a brand new handset model that costs the same? Cast your vote in our poll below and don't hesitate to share your opinion with us down in the comments!

Phonearena polls
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An old flagship or a new mid-range: what smartphone would you buy?
51.99%
1047 votes
(1047 votes) Old is gold!
48.01%
967 votes
(967 votes) A new mid-range makes more sense

2014 votes

68 Comments
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posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:22 19

1. imsickwithsmartphone (Posts: 153; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


I rather buy nokia 3310, haha XD

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:19

22. zhiae (Posts: 165; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)


there is always a phone that will fit ur interests but you wont feel good if you said i wish :)

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:22 2

2. RaKithAPeiRiZ (Posts: 1293; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


i prefer a newer version with the latest software ...not saying old versions are bad ,but when you got a choice , its always better to have the latest .....kind of like chosing between a old 3 series and a new 3 series bmw ...

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:55 2

12. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2992; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Cars would be a different thing...they become vintage after years.
While 'Old is gold' indeed...i won't advice friends to buy something that came out 10 months ago. The rate at which mobile phones improve their insides and outsides, a mid ranger now will, almost, likely be able to hit the mark of a year old high-end device...and that with the latest OS, in this case i'm talking about Androids.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:59

30. anshul0000 (unregistered)


galaxy s was better than galaxy s plus..galaxy s scores 28 pts in nenamark 2 while s plus gets only 15 pts..... s2 is better than s2 plus...exynos replaced by brodcomm

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:02

41. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


if you want a former flagship model, buy iPhone, trust me, its software updates is amazing..

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 12:28 4

53. noim1 (Posts: 296; Member since: 15 May 2012)


Dont make me laugh !!! iOS software updates don't make any difference.....iOS 5 & 6 r the same thing .....HA HA , LOLZzzzZzzzZzz

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:20

43. xtremesv (Posts: 188; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


Following your analogy, I'd prefer a new 2010 BMW 6 series than a new 2013 BMW 3 series anytime.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 12:05

52. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Older flagships have more accessories, developers, and manufacturer support than mid rangers that will be eol'd in six months. Just my $.02

And its not the same as an old and new 3 series. Were talking old flagship vs new midranger not old flagship vs new flagship.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 12:30

54. noim1 (Posts: 296; Member since: 15 May 2012)


Yes Flagships will always get the full Dev community support...so no need to worry abt updates , we got the Dev's backing us Up here ....

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:22 18

3. Zarak (Posts: 23; Member since: 21 May 2012)


Well obviously old is gold if you have a nexus device.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:35 2

36. cezarepc (Posts: 451; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)


IMO, aside from Nexus devices and from a software standpoint, only the GS2 is a true oldie but a goodie because of the massive dev support..

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:27

4. amansingal14 (Posts: 283; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)


My samsung galaxy s plus is no longer supported by cyanogenmod (post 10), and android 4.1 is the last spot it is going to, while the Old flagship, Samsung galaxy s is getting cyanogen mod 10.1

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:53

49. tusshharish (Posts: 341; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)


depens upon harware,price,update ...etc. you can't say perfectly.......especiality it is very difficult in android...

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:58

59. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


there are unofficial ports too...

my nexus one got kicked b4 ics, yet it is running cyanogenmod 10.1 perfectly

posted from a nexus one running 4.2.1

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:29 1

5. dirtydirty00 (Posts: 248; Member since: 21 Jan 2011)


wheres the option for new high end?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:30 6

6. PhoenixWright (Posts: 99; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)


I'd like a sturdy Android phone manufactured by Nokia with A Pure View cam, with waterproof features like Sony's Xperia, with a huge Motorola's battery, and with Samsung's quick updates and great support.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:51 3

11. Leo_MC (Posts: 475; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)


HTC was faster updating their phone software than Samsung was.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:00 3

15. alexzibrit (Posts: 67; Member since: 15 Jan 2013)


Quicker but they hardly give updates for most of their phones

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:36 1

7. wendygarett (unregistered)


Easy for you to say old is gold :(

When a new device looks shiny and attractive, for sure you will easily brainwashed by marketing gimmick

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:37 2

8. johnriii (Posts: 221; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


considering I'm on a very tight budget, I will always look a smartphones that are not brand new, but less than a year old, with Specs that are relatively "future proof". I upgrade in July, so my target phones would be those that came out October 2012 or later. If I went by specs alone, the HTC DNA and the Samsung Note 2 far and away gives me the most bang for my buck. the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD is a distant third, but it is still definately on my list. Battery life is big for me, so the Note 2, based on my criteria, is tops on my list. The DNA gets negative marks due to lack of micro SD support, and questionable battery life, compared to the other two.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:39

9. emadshiny (Posts: 1127; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


im still enjoy using my old 3250 and N86. of course because they're Nokia, their quality is like the first day i bought them.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:49

38. rusticguy (Posts: 2813; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Nokia communicator 9300 still works as it did when i bought 7 years back despite having 3 terrible accidental drops.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_9300

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:41 3

10. daymler (Posts: 12; Member since: 09 May 2012)


i have samsung galaxy nexus - old (2011) but god damn gold !! - cheap without contract, the most recent updates (even updates that some of the most recent high edge smartphones don't have), and all the new technologies that one user need (LTE(optional) and NFC for example) !! no doubt the best offer !! :)))

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:57

13. lallolu (Posts: 226; Member since: 18 Sep 2012)


In specs, an old high end is equal or less than a new mid-range phone. Eg lg optimus 2x vs lg L9; Htc sensation vs HTC One S.

Furthermore, their prices are usually very similar, so I believe it is much more sensible and future proof to buy a new mid-ranger.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 07:59

14. henrickrw (Posts: 403; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Well, it all depends on the needs of each one. We must remember that not everyone can just get the latest flashgrip that comes out. I have pals that still use Samsung Galaxy I9000 & are very happy with it.

It's a matter of need & money.

I'm a hard player in this as recently I got myself a Note2 & Xperia Z but also have the S2,S3,S2 HD-LTE SHV-120L & the original Note (I need to sell the old units) hahaha
But the oldies are still goodies.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:00

16. Slammer (Posts: 919; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)


I try grooming my constituents in keeping the mindset that today's mobile devices are the new PC era. It is important to purchase a device that has the most features that they can afford. Signing a two year jail sentence with a carrier, means that most individuals are stuck with their devices until then. Having a device with the utmost latest features(even if not fully mainstream), ensures that they will grow into the technology.

John B.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:02 2

17. pyradark (Posts: 736; Member since: 10 Jun 2012)


my SE K610i is working good for me, they even last long than my iphone5..hahaha
that's why its time to shift on the Z

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:02 3

18. alexzibrit (Posts: 67; Member since: 15 Jan 2013)


Well Sense the Samsung Galaxy S2 has been downgraded to a mid-range phone, it is still at the top of that category so I'll say Old Is Gold

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:03

19. Captain_Doug (Posts: 746; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


If you can buy an older phone that still has 1GB of ram, dual core processor, and good screen, you can probably throw on a rom(I have JB on my Dinc2) and last for another 6 months to a year. I say this because right now, there aren't any new phones I would jump on. However there may be in the future. the Moto X phone and the HTC One are catching my attention.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:29 3

25. aokde (Posts: 185; Member since: 09 Jul 2012)


Have you not heard about the new XPERIA Z?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:54

50. Captain_Doug (Posts: 746; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I'm not looking for a phablet.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:05

20. lovefist (unregistered)


Well I bought gs2 last august 2012 and paid less than half of the full price when it was released. During that time only xperia s came close. But still got gs2, didnt bother with new shiny mid rangers of 2012 coz thier prices just aint worth it compared to this... One s, xperia p, lg 4x hd, gs3 mini (god that was ugly).

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:09

21. alexzibrit (Posts: 67; Member since: 15 Jan 2013)


since*

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:27

23. yazbuh (Posts: 26; Member since: 21 Jun 2012)


Some older flagships or high end devices have sometimes better specs and features, like note and SII, they will be updated to 4.1 with the latest features that their newer brother the SII and Note II has, that some latest mid-ranger don't have, if you want the last years greatest check their brand if their device support is good, for me personally stay away from LG and HTC they rarely update they devices, atleast sony for now is support legacy devices though mostly late but better late than never, I have a friend that has a HTC sensation XE she is not quite a techy person until now she is stuck with Gingerbread, she said her only option is rooting the device but unfortunately she does't know how and she is afriad to do it....

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:28

57. b1acktiger (Posts: 202; Member since: 19 May 2012)


Sensation XE got ICS months before. You should check at least before blaming. They push updates faster than any other OEM. HTC Thunderbolt is an exception.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:29 1

24. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6100; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


Im planning too buy the xperia z when it comes out. Slim design rug water proof & dust proof 1080p full hd. I always wait till ces mwc or ifa too find out latest & greatest phone. Also before making a decision gotta make sure the phone itself gets the up to date software. Plus i don't rush & go out too buy a phone because something else better will always come out.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:35

26. Firedrops (Posts: 207; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)


In addition, golden oldies also tend to have outstanding accessory support from relevant companies, plus a huge software dev(ROMs/tweaks) community, which is usually entirely absent in new, mid-ranged phones.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:36 2

27. GALAXY-STORM (Posts: 328; Member since: 13 Oct 2012)


If the post was written with samsung galaxy s2 in picture then old flagships ftw. sgs2 is still quite the beast

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:39

28. sabres0809 (Posts: 13; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)


I went with the newer (then) mid range RAZR M . It is spec wise better than the previous RAZR line. But you can't go wrong with older phones because of the custom roms .

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 08:55

29. skymitch89 (Posts: 1015; Member since: 05 Nov 2010)


I just upgraded to a new "old" phone. I got the Epic Touch for free by resigning my contract with Sprint (though I really wanted the Note 2 or the Optimus G). So far I'm happy with it and cannot wait to get Jelly Bean on it. I'm really thinking that it should be a good device to have for the next 2yrs, unless I can get a good paying job and something comes out that I just have to have.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:00 1

31. Razorback556 (Posts: 9; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)


The HD2 is still a great device and was way ahead of its time. I still use it when I go out, or do things that might damage my new phones.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:22

32. D_Tech-tive (Posts: 104; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


I buy flagship phones because specs are usually future proof and software support is usually better. ROMs for rooting are better too.

My rooted RAZR MAXX still can hang with Iphone 5 and a battery that puts 98 percent of phones batteries to shame.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:23 2

33. rusticguy (Posts: 2813; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


I have my eyes set on Xperia TX and Xperia Acros S

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:00 1

55. buccob (Posts: 1292; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


I just got the Acro S, and I have to say that I am impressed. I come from a Motorola Atrix (first one) and then I had the Samsung Galaxy S 3 for a few month before it was stolen from me... So not having enough for another flagship, Sony cached my attention. This weekend that past, I extensively tested the waterproof capabilities and camera.

The screen is beautiful and camera is great for outdoor. Not so good for low light. I do not miss the SGS3, except for some software features.. but even so, this phone is awesome.

Get it in black, and if you intent to use it as camera, I recommend putting a strap on.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 17:15

63. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6100; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


Xperia z is wat u should look at too

posted on 14 Feb 2013, 06:15 1

66. buccob (Posts: 1292; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


if you can help me out with half the money... then yes...

posted on 14 Feb 2013, 10:24

67. rusticguy (Posts: 2813; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Lol ... even i would look at Z in that case ...

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:25

34. andro. (Posts: 1935; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


I'd have to go with mid range new. The s3 mini vs the s2 is a good example. The s2 is struggling with software updates while the s3 mini is on 4.1.2 and nature ui with smart call etc. Both have the same processor spec but the s3 has the edge. The s3 mini can be got for 250 bucks off contract in a lot of places

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:31

35. FireDragon (Posts: 107; Member since: 13 Nov 2009)


I have been searching for a low-cost smart-ish phone, that could do copy-paste and can do multi-tasking, with hardware qwerty. Although I am ready to let go of qwerty for the good price and good look of device to go all touch-screen.

In my last 3 attempts I always found myself narrow down to Nokia 5530 (going through almost all the brands including older Black Berries). On 2nd I really like how Nokia Asha 303 feels but now I also like Asha 310. It is not available but maybe I will take that. If not Nokia 5530 is still on my top list, simply because it is a proper smartphone and it is available in half the price of Asha 303.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:44

37. techtruth (Posts: 30; Member since: 07 Feb 2013)


galaxy s2 is still a great smartphone....

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:52 2

39. McLTE (Posts: 636; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


It really depends on if the person is buying new or used...

Are they considering going to their provider and buying a new GS2 at a good deal and be locked into that for 2 years?

In the scenario where they are buying the phone NEW, I ALWAYS recommend people buy the latest hardware. It just makes sense from a support sense.. better chance for updates, compatibility.. etc. Of course if they can only afford $99 then it's pointless to push a $200-300 phone. If it's not really a money thing, I tell people to buy what they want because over 2 years, $100 isn't that much.

The biggest thing I have against the older phones is battery. The newer phones are slowly getting better and better. I tell eveyrone I can to RUN out and get a Note 2.. for the battery alone. It's amazing!

my 2 girls are clamoring for a smart phone.. if I relent and get them one, I would probably consider a GS2 or Moto Maxx.. Just say no to iPhones - too expensive used for what you get.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 09:58

40. Red-Pain (Posts: 33; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)


i would go for new mid-range devices for their hardware, as they started to come with last year high-end specs (for example the rumored HTC M4) which is a major selling point for me

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:14

42. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Tough question. Depends on the old model and how mid range the new one is.

If dual core, 1 GB is mid range.....I have a Maxx HD that has me content. I might be content for longer than 2 years. I kept my Droid X1 for almost 2 years, longest I ever kept a phone.

Now....would I get a dual core, 1GB Ram phone today vs whats out and coming out? Tough question. For me...depends on the manufacture and some other things.

Money wise they will almost cancel each other out. Feature wise...if you know its mid range....are you expecting features from a high end model? Generally speaking...you cant go wrong either way.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:21

44. mrmessma (Posts: 36; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Samsung Galaxy Nexus just last week, happiest I've ever been with a phone. It has pretty decent hardware and the latest software. What else could you want without getting the absolute latest and greatest?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:34

45. shuaibhere (Posts: 1297; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


I am really confused to choose between old and new one...
In case if we take S2 and S3 mini...
S2 has better quality and best dev support...S3 mini has brand new touchwiz nature UX...
What to choose???

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:15 2

47. draconic1991 (Posts: 117; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


if it has to between these two then take the s2 hands down...

- s2 has a better processor (1.2 ghz dual core exynos vs 1 ghz dual core novathor)

- s2 with a better primary camera (8MP vs 5MP)

- s2 has a better secondary camera (2MP vs VGA)

- s2 has a slimmer profile (8.5 mm vs 9.9 mm)

- s2 has a bigger battery (1650mAh vs 1500 mAh )

- s2 has a larger screen (4.3 vs 4.0 inches)

- s2 with better data speeds (HSDPA : 21 mbps vs 14.4 mbps)

And if u need more then,
- jelly bean will be rolling out to galaxy s2 somehere in March or April
with the new nature UX
- lower price
- as u pointed out better dev support
- (if u are a fan of) more options for phone cases and covers

That should seal the deal..
Hope this was helpful

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:55

51. Captain_Doug (Posts: 746; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Not to mention the S2 is a rooters dream. So much dev support out there. I'm sure they have JB already.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 10:46

46. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


I got my lady a Samsung Galaxy S2 over the Christmas holiday. S2 still holds itself pretty well, it was a high end phone and after all this time it could still keep itself in the game with most mid level phones.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:38 1

48. rakmvk (Posts: 5; Member since: 13 Jun 2011)


dual core and 1 gb ram and developer support that enough love my s2 still a champ

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