As we head into the second half of 2022, some of the older flagship phones from many brands like Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus and others will see either a dip in price, special discounts or other offers making these old flagship phones attractive propositions in some cases. But how do you figure out if you should actually buy a particular old flagship phone from 2021 or early 2022 right now? We explain which older flagship phones are good deals right now and which ones you should simply look past.
When to buy an old flagship phone?
When the pricing is good: The first factor to look at is pricing. For instance, If the old flagship phone you want launched at around Rs 60,000 and is now available at around Rs 45,000, that may be a good deal for the specifications you’re getting which will still be relatively newer hardware.
Take the Xiaomi 11X Pro as an example. The competitively priced Snapdragon 888-powered phone was launched starting at Rs 39,999 in April 2021. The phone is today available for as low as Rs 29,999, still featuring the same Snapdragon 888 chip and other flagship-level specifications. The older OnePlus 9 Pro is retailing at Rs 49,999 for the 8GB RAM+128GB option. Given it launched at Rs 64,999, this is steep discount.
When you’re looking for good cameras: If you’re looking to buy a flagship-level device only for good, overall camera performance, you may be better off buying an older flagship phone and saving a lot of money. Camera performance improvements between each generation of a flagship phone may often be not enough to justify the difference in price.
Take the Vivo X70 series from 2021. While the X80 series offers new camera features, the X70’s camera remains very capable at the same time, which also has the Zeiss branding The same is the case for the newer OnePlus 10 Pro. Both the newer OnePlus 10 Pro and the older OnePlus 9 Pro have a very capable camera, and both are powered by Hasselblad. In real-life usage, you may not even notice a difference using cameras on two generations of flagship phones.
When the performance increase isn’t very significant: The performance and speeds that flagship phones are known for come from the chipset powering the phone. These chipsets like the Snapdragon 800-series sometimes see minor updates, while sometimes the updates are significant. For instance, the performance difference between the Snapdragon 865, Snapdragon 865+ and Snapdragon 870 was relatively very small, compared to the difference between the Snapdragon 870 and Snapdragon 888 or Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
If you’re looking at an older phone, check out which chipset it features. If you’re buying a phone in 2022 which has the Snapdragon 870 or Snapdragon 888, you will still find a stable flagship-level experience, which is also thermally efficient in case of the Snapdragon 870. So phones like the original Realme GT, the OnePlus 9 and the Xiaomi 11X Pro are still pretty powerful devices this year.
When not to buy an old flagship phone?
When the discount isn’t good: If a phone has launched over a year ago but the price is still very expensive even after a discount, it isn’t a great deal for an old flagship. If the thought of “should I just put in a little more money and get the newer variant” comes to your head, perhaps the price drop of the old phone just isn’t good enough yet to be considered.
When the phone has no long-term update cycle: Let’s face it. Android phones are not the best at providing long-term software update cycles. Most flagship phones launch with a promise of two system updates and three-four years of security patches. That also means that if you buy an old phone a year after its launch, you have already gone through half the system update cycle which will get you only one more major update now. For example, if you buy the OnePlus 9 Pro today instead of the OnePlus 10 Pro, you should keep in mind that while both the phones are on Android 12 right now, the 9 Pro will get one less Android update than the 10 Pro, ending its cycle a year earlier down the line.