Should you buy a smartphone in 2019?
2019 has been an excellent year for smartphones, with OEMs offering serious upgrades over their previous generation handsets. The premium smartphones and flagship killers both saw big improvements in camera, design, display, and performance from their predecessors. This year also saw the dawn of 5G smartphones, which have topped most 'best smartphone' lists.
But as good as 5G handsets are, they come at a hefty price, which makes their 4G counterparts more appealing for consumers looking for value. However, getting a flagship 4G smartphone might not be such a good idea in 2019.
5G is about to get a whole lot more competitive
If 2019 was the year that marked the dawn of 5G connectivity, then 2020 will be the year in which the next-generation cellular network technology will be widely embraced. Smartphone OEMs have also pledged to release more 5G handsets at different price points in 2020, expecting the technology to reach more nations around the world.
Xiaomi has recently pledged over ten 5G smartphones in 2020 as compared to the four available this year. Qualcomm has already announced 5G-enabled Snapdragon 600 and 700 series chipsets to power mid-tier 5G smartphones, while Samsung and MediaTek have also confirmed mid-range 5G handsets in 2020. 5G has been limited to handsets above Rs 40K mark in 2019, with the likes of the Galaxy Note 10 5G and Galaxy S10 5G almost reaching the Rs 1,00,000 mark.
With the increase in the number of smartphones at different price points, comes more competition, which will, in turn, bring down prices.
Are you prepared to wait for the next-gen of network technology?
But more importantly, smartphones aren’t replaced for a minimum of two years, going up to three or more in the case of expensive flagships from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google, etc. This means buying a 4G smartphone in 2019 or 2020, will force you to wait until 2022, at best before being able to use 5G connectivity.
The average smartphone user who owns a smartphone ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 isn’t likely to replace his/her smartphone for the next two years, which only increases when you go above the 30K mark. Value goes out of the window if expensive smartphones are replaced every one or two years.
Which begs the question; “Are you prepared to wait until 2022 or 2023 to use 5G, when a global rollout is expected by the second quarter of next year?” If you don’t live in a metropolitan city in a developed country, the 5G rollout might take until 2021, but most premium smartphone users live in urban cities.
Considering 5G networks are capable of speeds 100 times faster than modern LTE networks, would you really want to be stuck using 4G while the rest of the world progresses? Beyond speed, 5G offers several other benefits over 4G connectivity. That’s why we recommend braving the storm, even if you want to get a mid-tier handset, it does seem better to wait until 2020 and get a mid-range 5G smartphone.
Why buy in 2019, when 2020 is just around the horizon?
Now, the equation changes if you live in countries like India, where a commercial 5G rollout in the country isn’t expected until the end of 2021 or 2022. And, even once it does roll out, it will likely only be available in tier-one cities from the start. However, nothing is set in stone and 5G is just in its infancy. Advancements in technology could speed up the 5G clock, but that won’t matter if you’re using an LTE smartphone.
Additionally, CES 2019 and MWC 2019 are less than two and three months away, respectively. The events will usher in the next generation of flagship phones, which will cause prices to drop and more importantly, make premium smartphones from this year “last-gen flagships”. So, the best thing to do at this moment would be to wait.
Better may not necessarily cost more
Another reason to wait would be ‘smartphone prices’, which have peaked in 2019. Devices like the iPhone 11 series, Galaxy S10 series, Galaxy Note 10 series, and Google Pixel 4 series, debuted at the same price or marginally higher than their predecessors with big improvements across the board. Take, for example, both Google and Apple’s latest flagship had several gains in the camera department, performance, and additional features over their last-gen counterparts.
The Bottom LineDespite 2019 being a great year for smartphones, prices came down, and specs improved substantially, with the advent of 5G, we believe the best is yet to come. Take, for example, Samsung’s new Galaxy S11 series, which is rumoured to get the 108-megapixel sensor. What 2019 has done is improved smartphone specs in all ranges, while maintaining similar pricing as their 2018 counterparts. So, why would 2020 be any different?