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Experience January/February 2024

Smartphone Buyer’s Guide: Android Edition

Jeffrey M Allen and Ashley Hallene


  • What to know if you’re deciding whether to buy the latest-and-greatest Android phone or a nearly-as-good older model.
Smartphone Buyer’s Guide: Android Edition

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We wrote a version of this article that focused on purchasing iPhones. Not wanting to overlook the Android afficionado, we now focus on that market.

Samsung dominates droids

Only Apple makes iPhones. With Android phones you have multiple manufacturers to choose from, but Samsung dominates the Android market. In fact, it was the only manufacturer to crack the top 10 best-selling smartphones in 2022, according to Counterpoint Research []. Samsung had two entries on the list, the Galaxy A13 and the Galaxy A03, where Apple’s iPhone dominated the other eight spots.

Whether you’re buying a phone for the first time or ready to upgrade yours, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you should you buy the newest model, a new prior generation model, or a refurbished model. This will ultimately boil down to preference.

Here are some key factors to consider to guide you in the decision:

Cost—While the savings can vary depending on brand, model, condition, and market demand, refurbished smartphones are, on average, 10 to 30 percent less expensive than brand-new ones. If budget is a concern, opting for a refurbished device can save you money while still providing a good experience.

Condition and quality—Assess the condition of the refurbished smartphone. Reputable sellers usually refurbish devices to a high standard, ensuring that they function properly and are free from significant cosmetic damage. Look for certified refurbished devices backed by warranties.

Consider the comments buyers make on the site. To get a feel for the overall quality, look for comments on the screen quality, battery health, software functionality, performance, and storage.

Warranty and support—Check whether the refurbished smartphone comes with a warranty. This can provide protection in case issues arise after your purchase. Equally important is how the seller treats warranty claims and the overall support the seller provides. You should verify if the manufacturer or seller provides customer support for refurbished devices.

Availability and model—The supply of refurbished smartphones may be limited compared to the availability of the latest models. For example, if you have your heart set on a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S23 in lavender with 256 GB that’s usable on the T-Mobile network, you may be waiting a while or forced to settle for some other combination.

Upgrades and features—Newer models often come with the latest technology, upgraded hardware, and software features. If you prioritize having the most up-to-date specifications, a new smartphone may be the better choice.

Longevity and future support—Manufacturers vary in the length of time they’ll support their devices. For example, Samsung has pledged to offer major operating system updates for four years, with five years of security patches. Google has pledged to support its phones for five years.

Motorola and Asus, on the other hand, offer only two upgrades and two years of security patches. OnePlus offers four upgrades and five years of security patches. Consider how long you plan to use the device and whether having the latest updates is important to you. For lawyers, security updates are very important.

Risk tolerance—Buying a refurbished smartphone carries some level of risk, although reputable sellers typically mitigate these risks. Assess your comfort level with potential uncertainties and resolving issues that arise.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision based on your priorities, budget, and preferences. At the end of the day, if you want (or need) the latest and greatest features, the only way to get those is to buy the latest and greatest model. But keep in mind, both manufacturers and certified resellers have come a long way, and you can get great value buying a refurbished phone from a quality seller. Some reputable places to purchase refurbished Android phones include:

To get an idea of the cost and value of the various phone models, I put together a chart that examines the cost to purchase (new and refurbished) against the life expectancy of the phones to determine a cost per day for each. There are too many different models and versions to cover them all, so I focused on the top-selling ones on the market today. Here’s what I came up with:

As you can see from the chart, life expectancy has a heavy impact on the cost per day. The Asus and Motorola model phones are among the highest cost per day due to the short time span in which the companies support their phones. Purchasing a newer model phone or one that’s supported for a longer period of time may cost more up front, but not having to worry about your phone no longer having support until 2028 makes the cost of ownership less.

What’s right for you?

Choosing the right Android phone for your next purchase involves considering several factors that align with your preferences and needs. You need to determine what features and capabilities are important to you. Is it display size and quality, camera specifications, performance, battery life, storage capacity, or other specific functionalities or features that you desire?

You also need to take your budget into account along with how often you wish to upgrade to a new phone. Consider the brand’s reputation and whether users report an overall positive experience with their smartphone. Following these steps and doing some research will help you narrow down your options and make an informed decision.

Model Current -Cost Current Cost - Refurb
End-of-Life Expectancy Cost Per Day - New Cost Per Day- Refurb
Google Pixel Fold $ 1799.00 - 6/27/2028 $ 0.99
Motorola Razr+ $ 999.99 - 6/23/2025 $ 1.38 -
Motorola Edge Plus $ 799.00 - 5/25/2025 $ 1.15 -
Google Pixel 7a $ 499.00 - 5/10/2028 $ 0.28 -
Samsung Galaxy A54
$ 269.99 - 3/24/2027
$ 0.20 -
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra $ 449.99 - 2/17/2027 $ 0.34 -
OnePlus 11 $ 699.00 - 2/16/2028 $ 0.41 -
Google Pixel 7 Pro $ 899.00 $ 651.99 10/13/2027 $ 0.57 $ 0.42
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 $ 1000.00 $ 499.00 8/26/2026 $ 0.87 $ 0.43
Galaxy Z Fold 4 $ 1799.00 $ 844.99 8/25/2026
$ 1.56 $ 0.73
Asus ZenFone 9 $ 599.99 -
7/28/2024 $ 1.52 -
Samsung Galaxy A53 $ 449.99 $ 229.00   3/31/2026 $ 0.45 $ 0.23
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra $ 1149.99 $ 642.00 2/25/2026 $ 1.18 $ 0.66
Samsung Galaxy S22 $ 599.99 $ 373.50 2/25/2026 $ 0.62 $ 0.38
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
$ 999.99 $ 400.90 2/25/2026 $ 1.03 $ 0.41
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE $ 599.99 $ 278.00 1/11/2026 $ 0.65 $ 0.30
Galaxy A32 5G $ 279.99 $ 159.90 1/22/2025 $ 0.49 $ 0.28