How Much Do You Need to Spend on (Good Enough) Smartphones?

We live in a world of smartphones, and they are highly useful tools. You can call, text, video chat, snap selfies, shoot a movie,, surf the internet, play games, connect on social media, read a blog, write a blog, watch a movie, do your banking, invest, budget, track your health, or do almost anything you can do on a computer…all on your smartphone.

I love smartphones, but I hate MY smartphone. Sometimes I find in my desire to save money, I go overboard. I was too cheap to buy a smartphone to suit my needs, but I’m having trouble figuring out what I need to spend to get one that isn’t top of the line but is GOOD ENOUGH.

Me And My Smartphones

I began my smartphone addiction when I worked for a company that provided all managers and administrative staff with Blackberries (and then Androids, and then iPhones). I fell in love, and fell hard. Having 24/7 email and internet was addictive.. Once Little Bit was born, I adored the ability to take pictures or video all of the time. (I might not carry a camera, but i sure as heck carried my phone.)

When I left the company, I found myself phoneless. Jon tried to convince me to just pick up a basic TracPhone, which is what he carried.

Nope, I needed my smart phone, and hey, he needed one too. I went down to Verizon, signed us up for two lines, and picked up two mid-tier Motorolas. When we renewed our plan, we picked up two more.

Jon fell in love with smart phones too. They are just too useful, too portable to do without.

Last year, we decided to switch from Verizon to Cricket. The switch saved us around $85 a month, but unfortunately, our year-old smart phones weren’t compatible with the network.

I thought I had done my homework. I wanted an Android (I don’t like iPhones). I wanted a decent camera, and liked the ability to add a micro SD card for additional storage. And, I didn’t want to pay a ton for the phone.

We picked up two Samsung Grand Galaxy phones. After rebate, they were $35 each.

Frugality for the win? Nope. Unfortunately, as I’ve since found, I was just cheap.

My Phone Problem

The Grand Galaxy is an okay phone. The camera is okay, although I think my older phone took better pictures. I can store plenty of pictures and videos on the mini SD card. The apps it runs work fine.

Unfortunately, our phones have very limited memory (8 Gigs) on the actual phone, and the operating system takes up HALF of it.

That’s not a problem for Jon. He uses his phone to surf the web and check email. He doesn’t do social media. Jon only added about 5 apps in the first week: Pandora, Google Sky Map, and 3 weather apps. I don’t think he’s added any since.

I, on the other hand, do use social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest take up a big chunk of my phone’s remaining memory. While I can move some memory storage to the SD card, I still find myself having to clear the cache whenever the phone wants to run updates. I’ve had to delete any non-essential apps or phone games I had (which frustrates Little Bit to no end), and can only carry one audio book at a time.

And I’m trying to explore new social media opportunities, but without being able to load them on my phone, that’s a bit difficult.

It drives me nuts.

I need a phone with more memory, but smartphones can be expensive. Want that brand new iPhone? It’ll run you AT MInimum $650. That Samsung Galaxy S7? Without a contract, you’re looking only $100 less.

No wonder most people buy their cell phones on payment plans.

I love my smart phones, but I don’t think they should cost more than my Kindle and laptop combined. On the other hand, should I really have spent less than I spend on a couple of trips to the movies for something I use at least 6 times a day?


How Much Do You Need to Spend on (Good Enough) Smartphones?

How Good is Good Enough?

One cell phone does not fit all. Jon is fine with our basic Android, which frustrates me to no end.For my inlaws, basic phones that call people work fine. I have friends who wouldn’t consider buying anything but an iPhone anymore than I would consider buying one.

You have to define your own Good Enough smartphone, just as you have to fit your own good enough car, home, or career. One set of priorities does not fit all.

For us, cutting edge is not a priority. Functionality is, but in this case I wasn’t wise enough to fully explore what functionality I needed before I bought. At $35 I’m not sure I wasted money, but I have been unsatisfied with my purchase and it’s my own fault.

Nine months of living with el cheapo phone has shown me that while I value  an inexpensive network and don’t need a top of the line phone, I do need at minimum 16 Gigs of memory (preferably 32) to run the myriad apps I want to connect to social media, store plenty of pictures, and run the occasional game. (Pokemon Go, anyone?)

With that as my baseline, I’m looking a lot more than $35. I’m looking at $200+ for my good enough.

Again, considering my cell phone usage, is a cell phone worth the same as a single out of town weekend?

Still Looking for Good Enough

I haven’t made a decision, but I think I’ll be casting a wider net this time. I want to check out the full spectrum of compatible smartphones, not just what Cricket offers. (After all, this time I only want to switch phones, not carriers. There’s no financial incentive to limit myself to the Cricket store.

My guess Is I’ll live with el cheapo phone until November, and then ask for a new phone as my birthday or Christmas present. That gives me another couple of months to make a better decision: a smartphone that might not be the best but fits the bill as good enough, even though it means spending more.

Any tips on buying a better phone? Have you found that you painted yourself into a corner by saving when you should have spent? 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich. *

31 Responses to “How Much Do You Need to Spend on (Good Enough) Smartphones?”
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