You know what else is shorter than a Kardashian relationship? The life cycle of a smartphone. Any smartphone. High-end, mid-range, low-end. Name it. The flame goes out as soon as it was lit. We move on to the next big thing. This repeats itself every month. There’s never a moment to stop and look back at things. There’s always newer, shinier, faster and lighter smartphones. Always.
The beauty of all that is the prices. Smartphone prices drop as soon new devices of the same model are announced. Many a times, the price drop takes the pricing of the device to mid-range price territory and they suddenly become a better proposition than the mid-range devices themselves. The other good thing is that with everyone now making phones that no longer have removable batteries and expandable storage, most of these devices from a year or two ago were made at a time that was not yet a thing and have support for microSD as well as allowing you to walk around with a backup battery in your pocket and not a ridiculous portable charger/power bank.
So if you are looking for a budget buy and still get all the nice specs, you have an option to look for used phones or buy last year’s flagship phones at a bargain.
Here are a couple of yesteryear flagship smartphones that are still a good deal if you can get them:
1. Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung got a lot of flak for sticking with plastic for the Galaxy S5’s design instead of progressing to say metal like its rival HTC had done with the One M8 or Apple had been doing with the iPhone. The perforated back cover of the Galaxy S5 was the subject of all manner of Band-Aid jokes.
Thanks to the plastic design and certain features that were added for the sake of addition and the record sales of its predecessors the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S4, the S5 did not perform as per Samsung’s expectations. It sold yes, but did not break any records while at it. Weak sales of the Galaxy S5 led to the early release of its successor, the Galaxy S6, and the radical overhaul of the materials used to make Samsung’s premier smartphone.
As much as all attention has shifted to the new flashy Galaxy S6 and its Edge variants, the Galaxy S5 is still a good device. When it was unveiled, it had the best in class display and camera and if you happen to get one today, it is unlikely that you’ll regret your purchase. Besides a fingerprint sensor that works when it feels like, it is the only Galaxy S smartphone that won’t die on you when you accidentally drop it in the sink thanks to its waterproof credentials. Need I add that of all top of the range Samsung smartphones in the Kenyan market at the moment it is the best seller?
2. Sony Xperia Z2
Sony makes some of the best smartphones in the world. Even though the OmniBalance design of its top of the line Xperia Z lineup is beginning to feel stale, the company is not holding back and newer devices like the Xperia Z5 Premium have our jaws dropping and mouths watery. The Xperia Z2 is one of the best smartphones Sony has ever made and by extension one of the best of its time. Its presence at the very top as Sony’s flagship was cut short by the early arrival of the Z3 but that did not take anything away from it. If anything, it just took away a few $$ off its price. The display is good, the camera is excellent and the software is probably the closest to Android purity you’ll get of all the devices on this list
3. LG G2
It’s the one phone that I’d recommend in a heartbeat today. The G2 was the first LG smartphone that showcased the Korean company’s maturity in smartphone design and thinking outside the box, something that is rare these days. It brought what has now become a signature design of LG smartphones, buttons at the back and a clean, minimalist almost bezel-less front. It also marked LG’s retirement of the Optimus name from its Android smartphone lineup and evening of things as far as naming goes. To further cement its pioneer status, it heralded a new approach to software by LG as the company went with a more bearable user interface instead of the ugly Optimus UI that phones like the LG G Pro were known for. It was one of the first smartphones to arrive packing the Snapdragon 800, the most powerful processor then.
4. Huawei Ascend P7
We just reviewed the Huawei P8, the P7’s successor. It is one of the best smartphones we’ve reviewed this year and packs a vibrant IPS-Neo display and a really awesome camera. The P7 is where it all started taking shape and the P8 is the culmination of such efforts. The beauty of Huawei’s high end smartphones in the P series is not just the design, it is the price! The Huawei P8 is the most affordable flagship smartphone from a notable global smartphone powerhouse. You’ll have to pay through the nose or sell your kidney(s) if you want to get the same from the likes of Apple, LG, Samsung or HTC. The price is not competitive because the quality is degraded. You get the best of both worlds. That is still the case with last year’s P7 which still has the iconic Apple-inspired looks and the good camera sensors on the front and the back.
The Huawei Ascend P7 is the last of its name, if that will really help sway your opinion about it in case our review from last year is not convincing enough. As you may have noticed, Huawei dropped that Ascend branding with the P8.
Huawei doesn’t do a great job when it comes to software updates so you may want to factor that in.
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
We’re currently reviewing the Galaxy Note 5, easily one of the best 2015 smartphones but you know what else is good? Last year’s Note. The Note 4 is so good that getting it is a no-brainer. Yes Samsung upgraded the design of the Note 4 in the Note 5 to feel even more premium and even brought a redesigned S Pen that is clickable but in the process, they omitted some of the standout features of a phone that is meant to be everything and go everywhere without being ugly or compromised.
The Note 5 lacks a microSD slot so you’re stuck with the 32/64 GB storage configuration it arrives with. You also can’t swap batteries when need arises. Never mind that Samsung decreased the capacity of the Note 5 battery to 3000 mah from 3220 mah in the Note 4. Did I say the Note 5 battery life is nowhere near being what you can always expect from a Galaxy Note? The Note 4’s price has not dropped that much but since the Note 5 goes for a pricey Kshs 86,000, the Note 5’s Kshs 55,000 or below is a bargain (yes, that!) and worth every cent as we found out in our review.
So what’s it going to be for you?