Got $300 for a Phone? Here’s Why Buying Used Might Be Best

    With costs of flagship telephones just like the iPhone 13 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra comfortably hitting $1,000 or extra and even telephones like Google’s Pixel 6 Pro or the OnePlus 10 Pro nonetheless costing a small fortune, getting a price range cellphone and even shopping for a used one can prevent large cash. A couple of hundred bucks can get you a cellphone that’ll simply address all of your on a regular basis wants with some extra cool options thrown in. But what’s higher: shopping for a brand-new price range cellphone, or getting a used flagship cellphone from a few years in the past? Will the efficiency be pretty much as good? Can they deal with the identical duties? Are they each secure to make use of? To discover out, I pitted two telephones in opposition to one another. One is the Samsung Galaxy S20, a cellphone that launched in early 2020 and acquired a really constructive evaluate from us once we acquired our arms on it. I picked it up preowned within the UK for less than £243 (about $290). Available new for round that value is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, a cellphone with strong specs and a value of solely £279 (that converts to round $333, however this cellphone shouldn’t be obtainable within the US). The level right here is to not examine two random telephones and let you know which ones to purchase. Instead I’m utilizing these telephones as examples of what you may get with this cash, each for brand new and used telephones, and hopefully to offer some steerage on how one can get probably the most in your cash. So let’s dive in.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Cheap used cellphone, low cost new cellphoneThe Galaxy S20 was a powerhouse of its day, packing potent specs, 5G connectivity and a a number of digicam setup on the again that may take beautiful photographs. It first went on sale for £899 ($999) so the value I acquired it for as a used mannequin is a large financial savings. But then the cheaper OnePlus additionally has 5G and in addition has a number of rear cameras and its processor is able to dealing with every thing from Instagramming to gaming. The Galaxy S20 has a way more highly effective processor and its rear digicam setup takes higher photos and features a superwide angle choice not discovered on the Nord. Its flagship design makes it really feel just like the extra premium gadget as nicely. It additionally presents waterproofing and wi-fi charging, neither of that are provided on the price range Nord CE 2 Lite. But the Nord has one main factor on its aspect; its age. New telephones get common safety updates from producers, ensuring that cybercriminals cannot exploit any holes in your cellphone’s defences that would compromise your privateness. As telephones age they finally get minimize off from this help, normally after a number of years. A cellphone that not will get safety updates is weak to assault as these holes in your defence are not being patched. Once a gap is discovered, it is open for any attacker to reap the benefits of for so long as you employ the cellphone. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    As a consequence, it is merely not secure to make use of a cellphone exterior of its help interval. OnePlus has promised that the Nord CE 2 Lite will obtain three years of safety updates, which, as a brand new cellphone, means it will likely be secure to make use of till at the least April 2025. Samsung just lately introduced it’s going to help its telephones for longer than it is beforehand finished, giving the S20 5G 4 years of safety updates — and a few of its newer handsets will get updates for even longer. But the S20 is already over 2 years previous, so it’s going to nonetheless solely get updates till February 2024 — at the least a yr lower than the OnePlus. Read extra: That Used or Refurbished Android Phone Might Be UnsafeSo whereas used flagships just like the S20 5G supply a extra premium expertise total, their usable lifespan is prone to be shorter. But two years continues to be a very good period of time, notably when you’re in search of a less expensive cellphone merely to tide you over for a yr or so. Buying a used flagship that is a yr or two previous is usually a very good method of placing nice tech in your pocket on a budget. You should buy newer fashions for more cash that might be supported for longer, or you should purchase a lot older ones for low costs — however these could also be out of help and so shouldn’t be in your buying checklist. Only you possibly can resolve what’s extra vital to you; longer help, higher-end efficiency or value. Buying used or new means balancing these three components, however neither choice is essentially ‘higher’ than the opposite. It’s simply right down to what is smart in your wants or price range. For my cash with these telephones, I’d go for the S20 5G. It’s nonetheless acquired loads of help time left and its total efficiency — particularly from its cameras — would make it extra usable for me on a day-to-day foundation. But learn on to see extra particulars on how the S20 5G and the Nord CE 2 Lite examine.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Processor efficiency: Galaxy S20 beats Nord CE 2 LiteMy S20 5G runs an Exynos 990 processor — Samsung’s prime processor on the cellphone’s launch — with 12GB of RAM, whereas the Nord CE 2 Lite makes use of a lower-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chip with 8GB of RAM.In our suite of benchmark checks, the Galaxy S20 was the clear winner, with higher efficiency noticed for each multicore processing and graphics. You can see the total breakdown of rating on the bar graph beneath, however the takeaway right here is that regardless of being an older cellphone, its potent specs nonetheless make it a robust performer right now. 

    Galaxy S20 5G vs. Nord CE 2 Lite efficiency chart

    Geekbench 5 Single core
    Geekbench 5 Multicore
    3D Mark Sling Shot Unlimited

    Longer bars equal higher efficiency

    But whereas there is perhaps a distinction on benchmark checks, in on a regular basis use that distinction is not particularly noticeable. General navigation round every cellphone is swift and freed from any annoying lag, opening apps feels prompt and opening the digicam is possibly a half second quicker on the S20. Video streaming is dealt with simply fantastic on each telephones, as is gaming in demanding video games like Asphalt 9: Legends, even with the settings set to most. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Sure, the older S20 5G is the extra highly effective handset on paper, however right now’s price range telephones nonetheless pack a punch and are not prone to allow you to down once you put them by way of their paces.Winner: The S20’s superior efficiency does technically outshine the Nord’s, however in on a regular basis use you are unlikely to note a lot distinction. With right now’s price range telephones providing sufficient energy for many duties, most individuals will not want the additional energy provided by older flagships.Camera: Older flagship takes higher photosAlthough it was the Galaxy S20 Ultra that packed probably the most spectacular digicam setup, the bottom S20 that I’m utilizing right here nonetheless has an amazing set of lenses on the again, together with a typical view, an ultrawide and a 3x optical zoom. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite has a typical view and a 2x optical zoom. Immediately then, these of you in search of grand, sweeping wide-angle landscapes might be higher suited with the triple digicam array of the S20. And it is the higher digicam in on a regular basis use, too, with higher, extra correct colours, extra pleasing distinction and sharper particulars. This shot from the Galaxy S20’s important digicam is well-exposed and with spot-on colours.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The publicity is OK from the Nord CE 2 Lite, however its colours aren’t pretty much as good.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Switching to the 3x zoom lens, the Galaxy S20’s shot is once more vibrant and well-exposed with colours which are true to life.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The Nord CE 2 Lite’s zoom presents a lot the identical as its important digicam; respectable publicity however colours that fall wanting the mark. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The S20 has finished an amazing job capturing this riverside scene.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The Nord’s shot is not too dangerous both, but it surely once more suffers from barely off colours and a much less punchy distinction.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The S20’s main digicam profit is its ultrawide lens, which helps you to seize a lot wider, extra dramatic views like this one. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The Galaxy S20’s selfie mode has a good publicity however its colours look fairly drab.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The Nord CE 2 Lite’s selfie mode has far more vivid colours and punchy distinction.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Winner: The Galaxy S20’s triple rear digicam takes photographs with higher publicity, colours and distinction. Its zoom is longer and its extra wide-angle lens permits you to seize photos that the Nord CE 2 Lite merely cannot handle. As a flagship of its day, the S20 was outfitted with a stellar digicam system and it is clear that it is nonetheless an amazing images device right now. Battery, show, design and extrasThe S20 packs a 4,000-mAh battery that is smaller than the 5,000-mAh cell contained in the Nord CE 2 Lite. I anticipated stronger battery life from the Nord in consequence, however after 1 hour of YouTube streaming, each telephones had dropped from full to 92% and after an extra hour the Nord was at 82% whereas the S20 was at 83%. In common use each telephones appear to supply roughly related battery efficiency, which I discovered stunning. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Batteries in telephones do age over time, even when they are not closely used. I even needed to substitute a battery myself on an iPhone 6 because it had aged a lot. Two years won’t be an enormous period of time, however I did count on to see poorer efficiency from the S20 right here and it is actually a mark in its favor that it put up such a battle. Do bear in mind although that older cellphone batteries might need aged and it is nonetheless typically a sensible transfer to cost your cellphone each evening, whether or not it is used or brand-new.The S20’s show is smaller (6.2 inches versus 6.59 inches) but it surely’s acquired a better decision and its AMOLED tech makes it brighter and extra vibrant than the Nord’s, so watching movies or enjoying colourful video games is a typically nicer expertise on the S20. Physically the S20 seems like a correct flagship cellphone with a glass and metallic development that feels much more luxurious than the fairly plasticky Nord CE 2 Lite. You’ll additionally discover extra options on the S20 like an in-screen fingerprint scanner (reasonably than a side-mounted one on the Nord) and an IP68 ranking to maintain water at bay. The Nord does allow you to increase its 128GB of storage, nevertheless, whereas the S20 doesn’t. The Nord additionally has a 3.5mm headphone jack that might be useful to these of you continue to utilizing wired headphones. Winner: The S20’s premium design, extra vibrant show, water resistance ranking and comparable battery life will make this cellphone extra satisfying to make use of each day they usually’re nice causes to think about a latest, used flagship cellphone over a brand new price range handset.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Security: The Nord CE 2 Lite offers peace of thoughts for a bit longerBetrigger any cellphone that does not have the most recent safety patches is extraordinarily weak to being hacked, software program safety on an older handset is a good larger deal than it usually is. Most Android producers are inclined to help their telephones for 2 to a few years, then successfully minimize them free because it turns into too time-consuming to maintain updating older fashions.With the Nord being a brand-new cellphone and OnePlus promising to help its telephones with safety updates for 3 years, it is secure to imagine the Nord CE 2 Lite will nonetheless be secure to make use of in April 2025. The S20 5G will probably lose safety help round Feb 2024. That’s an entire yr much less usable time than the Nord but it surely’s nonetheless two years of excellent use from now, which is not dangerous contemplating it is already 2 years previous. Personally I’d contemplate two years to be sufficient time to justify going with the older flagship, but when it had been a good older mannequin just like the Galaxy S9 that was already — or about to be — minimize off then I would not even entertain the concept. Using a cellphone exterior of its help interval merely is not secure. If you are eager to squeeze each month of usable life out of this buy then the brand new price range cellphone could be the higher choice, however be certain that to verify when every cellphone is prone to lose help. Companies supply completely different help intervals, notably with newer fashions, so you might discover the distinction is not all that a lot. Winner: When your cellphone receives an replace additionally will depend on your provider, however because the newer cellphone, the win technically goes to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite. However, the S20 nonetheless has two years of life forward of it, which makes it nonetheless price contemplating.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Which do you have to purchase?I first wrote this text in 2020 based mostly on a 3-year-old cellphone that was proper on the cusp of being minimize off from its safety help. Then, the selection was clear; the previous flagship would quickly be unsafe to make use of so it was a lot smarter to go for the brand new price range handset. Having up to date the article with a brand new comparability, although, the S20 5G I’ve examined nonetheless has a very good two years of usable life forward of it, which makes it completely price contemplating — particularly when shopping for used means holding one other cellphone out of landfill. And these two years with an older flagship just like the S20 will probably be extra satisfying than shopping for a brand new price range cellphone, due to its higher cameras, its nicer display screen and its extra luxurious design, construct and options like waterproofing. It’s an amazing handset that gives a hell of lots contemplating the low value I paid for it on the used market. So do contemplate shopping for used — it is a good way of placing superior tech in your pocket, not overstretching your price range and rescuing an in any other case nice cellphone from landfill. But it is vital to buy sensible: Buy from a trusted supply (I used MusicMagpie within the UK however Gazelle performs an equivalent service within the US) and ensure it is latest sufficient that it will nonetheless obtain safety updates for at the least a yr or two.

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