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

    With top-end telephones just like the iPhone 13 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra costing $1,000 or extra, and much more moderately priced Android units like Google’s Pixel 6 Pro or the OnePlus 10 Pro nonetheless being out of attain for many people, getting a price range telephone or shopping for one used can prevent massive cash. A couple of hundred bucks can get you a telephone that’ll simply deal with all of your on a regular basis wants with some further cool options thrown in.But what’s the perfect use of your cash: shopping for a brand-new price range telephone, or getting a used flagship telephone from a few years in the past? Will the efficiency be pretty much as good? Can they deal with the identical duties? And are they each secure to make use of? To discover out, I pitted two telephones towards one another. One is the Samsung Galaxy S20, a telephone that launched in early 2020 and acquired a really constructive overview from CNET after we bought our arms on it. I picked it up preowned within the UK for less than £243 (about $290). Available new for round that worth is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, a telephone with stable specs and a worth of solely £279 (that converts to round $333, however this telephone 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 supply some steering on how one can get probably the most in your cash. So let’s dive in.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Cheap used telephone, low-cost new telephoneThe 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 bought 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 the whole lot from Instagramming to gaming. The Galaxy S20 has a way more highly effective processor and its rear digicam setup takes higher pictures and features a superwide angle choice not discovered on the Nord. Its flagship design makes it really feel just like the extra premium machine as effectively. It additionally gives waterproofing and wi-fi charging, neither of that are supplied on the price range Nord CE 2 Lite. But the Nord has one main factor on its facet; its age. New telephones get common safety updates from producers, ensuring that cybercriminals cannot exploit any holes in your telephone’s defenses that might compromise your privateness. As telephones age they ultimately get lower off from this help, normally after a number of years. A telephone that not will get safety updates is susceptible to assault as these holes in your protection are not being patched. Once a gap is discovered, it is open for any attacker to make the most of for so long as you employ the telephone. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    As a end result, it is merely not secure to make use of a telephone outdoors 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 telephone, means it will likely be secure to make use of till not less than April 2025. Samsung just lately introduced it should help its telephones for longer than it is beforehand carried out, 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 two years previous, so it will nonetheless solely get updates till February 2024 — not less than a 12 months lower than the OnePlus. Read extra: That Used or Refurbished Android Phone Might Be UnsafeSo whereas used flagships just like the S20 5G provide a extra premium expertise general, their usable lifespan is prone to be shorter. But two years continues to be a superb period of time, notably in the event you’re in search of a less expensive telephone merely to tide you over for a 12 months or so. Buying a used flagship that is a 12 months or two previous could be a excellent method of placing nice tech in your pocket on a budget. You should purchase newer fashions for extra money that can be supported for longer, or you should buy a lot older ones for low costs — however these could also be out of help and so shouldn’t be in your purchasing record. Only you may resolve what’s extra essential to you; longer help, higher-end efficiency or worth. Buying used or new means balancing these three parts, however neither choice is essentially ‘higher’ than the opposite. It’s simply all the way down to what is sensible in your wants or price range. For my cash with these telephones, I’d go for the S20 5G. It’s nonetheless bought loads of help time left and its general 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 high processor on the telephone’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 complete breakdown of rating on the bar graph beneath, however the takeaway right here is that regardless of being an older telephone, its potent specs nonetheless make it a powerful performer in the present day. 

    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 may be a distinction on benchmark checks, in on a regular basis use that distinction is not particularly noticeable. General navigation round every telephone is swift and freed from any annoying lag, opening apps feels immediate 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 in the present day’s price range telephones nonetheless pack a punch and are not prone to allow you to down once you put them via 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 in the present day’s price range telephones providing sufficient energy for many duties, most individuals will not want the additional energy supplied 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 ideal set of lenses on the again, together with an ordinary view, an ultrawide and a 3x optical zoom. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite has an ordinary view and a 2x optical zoom. Immediately then, these of you in search of grand, sweeping wide-angle landscapes can 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 most 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 vivid and well-exposed with colours which can be true to life.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The Nord CE 2 Lite’s zoom gives a lot the identical as its most important digicam; first rate publicity however colours that fall wanting the mark. 
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The S20 has carried out an ideal job capturing this riverside scene.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    The Nord’s shot is not too unhealthy both, however it 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 rather more vivid colours and punchy distinction.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Winner: The Galaxy S20’s triple rear digicam takes pictures with higher publicity, colours and distinction. Its zoom is longer and its further wide-angle lens allows you to seize pictures 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 ideal images instrument in the present day. 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 because of this, however after 1 hour of YouTube streaming, each telephones had dropped from full to 92% and after an additional hour the Nord was at 82% whereas the S20 was at 83%. In basic 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 struggle. Do consider although that older telephone batteries may need aged and it is nonetheless usually a sensible transfer to cost your telephone each night time, whether or not it is used or brand-new.The S20’s show is smaller (6.2 inches versus 6.59 inches) however it’s bought a better decision and its AMOLED tech makes it brighter and extra vibrant than the Nord’s, so watching movies or taking part in colourful video games is a usually nicer expertise on the S20. Physically the S20 appears like a correct flagship telephone with a glass and metallic building that feels much more luxurious than the fairly plasticky Nord CE 2 Lite. You’ll additionally discover further options on the S20 like an in-screen fingerprint scanner (somewhat than a side-mounted one on the Nord) and an IP68 ranking to maintain water at bay. The Nord does allow you to develop its 128GB of storage, nonetheless, whereas the S20 doesn’t. The Nord additionally has a 3.5mm headphone jack that can 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 telephone extra satisfying to make use of every day and so they’re nice causes to contemplate a latest, used flagship telephone 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 telephone that does not have the newest safety patches is extraordinarily susceptible to being hacked, software program safety on an older handset is an excellent larger deal than it usually is. Most Android producers are likely to help their telephones for 2 to 3 years, then successfully lower them free because it turns into too time-consuming to maintain updating older fashions.With the Nord being a brand-new telephone 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 a complete 12 months much less usable time than the Nord however it’s nonetheless two years of fine use from now, which is not unhealthy contemplating it is already 2 years previous. Personally I’d think about two years to be sufficient time to justify going with the older flagship, but when it have been an excellent older mannequin just like the Galaxy S9 that was already — or about to be — lower off then I would not even entertain the thought. Using a telephone outdoors 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 telephone could be the higher choice, however be certain to test when every telephone is prone to lose help. Companies provide completely different help intervals, notably with newer fashions, so you might discover the distinction is not all that a lot. Winner: When your telephone receives an replace additionally relies on your service, however because the newer telephone, 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 value contemplating.
    Andrew Lanxon/CNET
    Which do you have to purchase?I first wrote this text in 2020 primarily based on a three-year-old telephone that was proper on the cusp of being lower 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 telephone. Having up to date the article with a brand new comparability, although, the S20 5G I’ve examined nonetheless has a superb two years of usable life forward of it, which makes it completely value contemplating — particularly when shopping for used means maintaining one other telephone 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 telephone, due to its higher cameras, its nicer display screen and its extra luxurious design, construct and options like waterproofing. It’s an ideal machine that gives a hell of loads contemplating the low worth I paid for it on the used market. So do think about 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 telephone from landfill. But it is essential to buy good: 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 not less than a 12 months or two.

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