Mobile operators aren’t going to like this.
If you’re addicted to the two-year upgrade cycle that contracts afford you, and you’re due a new handset now (or soon)… wait.
Most smartphones currently on the market will be replaced by new-generation devices in the coming months.
Cynics will say that given the rate of progress, you’ll always be out-of-date the moment you get a new device. But we’re in the midst of a number of significant platform transitions which will impact the market. There hasn’t been a better time to wait.
Nokia launched its new Lumia devices (the 820 and 920) running the new Windows Phone 8 operating system in New York on Wednesday, see video. Buying the current 610, 710, 800, 900 will leave you with a phone running WP7 which, though upgradeable to WP 7.8, will not be upgradeable to the new version 8 platform.
The Nokia Lumia 820 (and 920 if you like your phone bigger) are worth biding your time for.
The obvious new launch – that of Apple’s iPhone 5 – happens next week. We’ve become accustomed to the annual September launch of the iPhone, with availability in South Africa towards the end of the year. Last year, the iPhone 4S launched here in mid-December. Right now there is no real reason to buy or upgrade to the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4. If these devices remain on the market post December, prices will fall (we saw this with the iPhone 4).
BlackBerry’s situation is even more stark. If you’re dead set on getting a new BlackBerry, wait until early next year. RIM has publicly indicated that its new platform BlackBerry 10 will launch in the first quarter of 2013. Indications are that we’ll see a launch in January, which points to February availability. If you’re happy to be on the older, more-basic BlackBerry 7 platform for two years, upgrade now. It would be worth holding out for a far more sophisticated operating system and better devices, come February. This wait will also give us all a better indication of whether the ecosystem will be around for a while yet.
HTC is launching new devices today, strange considering it only shipped the flagship One X in April and May in major markets. The One X is a great device, directly comparable to the Galaxy S III, and is upgradeable to the latest version of Android (4.1/Jelly Bean). Depending on what’s announced today, if you’re considering the One X, you could go ahead and upgrade.
The only top-of-the-range smartphone which won’t be replaced by a new model anytime soon is the Samsung Galaxy III. There is a new Samsung Note on the way, for those users who prefer their smartphones to be half the size of their laptops.
The Galaxy S III remains a real alternative for top-end users who don’t want an iPhone. It’s only been in the market for two-three months, and if you’re keen on a Samsung, offers fantastic value.
For example, on MTN, the S III is available for R399 per month on AnyTime 200. For that price, you get R200 worth of airtime, 25 SMSes and a 75MB internet bundle per month. Add up the value of airtime/extras you’re getting, and the number is closer to R250-R260. That means you’re paying around R150 per month towards your handset. R3 600 for an S III means one thing: Samsung is happy to massively subsidise this handset to grab market share. That’s a good thing for consumers, because you’d be hard-pressed to find better value for a similar device.