Tips on how to best buy a phone at a reasonable price

Updated by in Categories:Financial Planning, Tags:Tags

Get our latest updates and like our Facebook page. And get them straight to your inbox and enter your email address below.

I have written that my old phone died on me. I am, sadly, not fond of shopping. All the time spent walking around and looking at window displays is exhausting. But I realized, I was able to save some cash by asking as many stores as I could visit and finding the right one.

And you know me, any way I can save is great for financial planning.

Reasonable versus cheap

Now, one thing I would have to get out of the way is about price. My old phones were relatively unknown brands with incredibly good features. I got the devices at less cost too compared to well-known models with the same features.

However, cheap does not mean reasonable.

The last two phones lasted roughly two years. When they died, they literally die. I couldn’t, for the life of me, have them repaired. My very last phone was refused flatly by a repair center, telling me they accepted all brands except the one in my hand.

It was humiliating.

I didn’t have a choice but to buy a new one. This turns out to be more expensive over time; because the lifespan is too short and repairs are not possible, I am forced to purchase brand-new device again every two years.

This time, I made sure I wouldn’t be in the same situation several years down the road. I came up with three things that you need to remember when buying a new phone:

  • Phone specification versus after-sales service
  • Physical shop versus online shop
  • Manufacturer versus reseller

Specs versus after-sales

Specifications are features of the device. Let me tell you, the biggest question I always have is: why are some phones less costly than others when they have the same features?

One of the answers is after-sales services. After-sales services are repairs and updates that you don’t know you would need after you made your purchase.

Yes, you can buy phone models with unbelievable features at affordable price. However,

  • The brand may not have a local service center.
  • When your phone is in warranty and it breaks down, you would need to have it sent to Manila. That would leave you without a phone to use for weeks on end.
  • If the phone is out of warranty, no third-party repair center will accept it. Or, you would need to pay an expensive repair fee to fix the problem.
  • Spare parts, such as battery, and accessories are not readily available. You will then have to pay the shipping charges and wait longer for the repair to be done.
  • Like me, you will be pushed to the corner and left with no choice but to get a new one.

All of the above situations will add up to the true cost of using a mobile phone.

In conclusion, price is important. But after-sales service is also equally important to be factored in to your decision.

Physical shop versus online shop

Online shopping offers convenience. However, it also has risks. If the device that you get turns out to have a defect, you will need to ship it back to get a replacement. You will then have to wait.

And when you can no longer bear the waiting, you might decide to cancel the order and ask for a refund. You will then have to wait even more.

Hands down, I am for a physical shop. (I’m okay with online shopping for other items, but not with expensive purchases). Not only can you have the chance to get the feel of the device, how it cradles in your palm or check its features, you can check if it works perfectly before you walk out of the store.

Manufacturer versus reseller

This is where the fun of shopping really started for me. I already listed several features that I needed in a new phone.

After several rounds, I decided on a device that’s worth P12,990 pesos. Its features were modest. Although I could have bought  a model at a cheaper price with the same features, its company has a local service center. And I heard their after-sales services were top-notch too.

However it was funny that at the manufacturer’s store, its price was fixed. On the other hand, resellers were offering huge discounts and freebies.

See below table.

Store Price
Manufacturer 12,990
Reseller 1 12,200
Reseller 2 Buy a loyalty card for P80 pesos. Then choose to pay only 12,190, or pay the full price and get a voucher worth P1,000.
 Reseller 3  12,590 plus a selfie stick
 Reseller 4  12,790 plus a Bluetooth speaker

Conclusion

It was Reseller 1 that was most financially reasonable. No bells and whistles.

And there’s actually no difference. Regardless where I buy the phone, it will still be accepted at the local service for out- or in-warranty repairs for as long as I can present a receipt and device number.

As your last take-away, here are more tips for you.

  • Make a list of features and functionalities of a phone that are non-negotiable for you. WiFi-connectivity, ability to connect to mobile network, camera and the works are just some of them. Trust me, without a list, you are going to be tempted to buy a phone that you don’t actually need.
  • Come up with a price-range. Stick to it.
  • Search online so you can see the phone models that you would be checking at a physical store.
  • Avoid borrowing money to buy a new phone, unless you really have to.
  • Shop around in malls with multiple electronic shops. In that way, you can get the best deals with less amount of legwork.
  • Compare the price offered by manufacturer and resellers. Make sure to ask about warranty, after-sales, etc.
  • Buy accessories, such as casing and screen protector. They prolong the lifespan of your device, saving you money.