Now Is a Really Bad Time to Buy a New Phone

By Sam Gibbs on at

Just like it's a really terrible time to buy a new laptop, it's also a really crappy time to sink hundreds of pounds and possibly years of your life into a new phone. So wait, trust me, it'll be better all round.

The thing is, that in the world of smartphones, unless you've got your heart well and truly set on buying an iPhone or Windows Phone (more on that later), there's one company you need to pay attention to, and that's Google. Android normally gets major updates at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O. This year it's on May 15th, which is Wednesday next week, for those keeping count.

Bacon Google IO

What does this mean? Well, we're expecting a new version of Android to be unveiled, which could be Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie or, more likely if rumours are to be believed, a point update to Jelly Bean taking it to Android 4.3. For most Android smartphones that won't mean much initially, because it takes quite some time for the new versions of Android to filter down to the OEMs and their phones. Certainly, if you're expecting a day and date release of an update for your Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One or whatever, the only way you're going to get it fast is by going the custom ROM route (which isn't a bad route to go).

The big thing, though, for all those looking to buy a new smartphone right now, is that Google might update its Nexus phone line; the search giant normally does at I/O. Recent rumours have seen UK phone retailers pull the Nexus 4 from sale, and speculation points towards either a brand new "Nexus 5" or an updated Nexus 4 with LTE support cropping up on May 15th.

Nexus 4

Given that the current Nexus 4 is such insanely-good value, priced starting at £240, it's very hard to argue against it. Having gone the route of direct-to-the-public sale, the new variant will highly likely be sold in a similar manner and at a similar price, which brings me round to why you shouldn't buy a new phone yet.

If, and it's still a rumour at this point, Google does indeed replace the Nexus 4 with a new variant or complete update, then that'll very likely be the Android phone to buy. It'll be cheaper than the rest, get the updates and improvements to Android faster than anything else, and it'll be as Google intended -- no skin or bloatware to slow the thing down. It's very hard to argue with a true flagship phone priced at sub-£300, without being tied to a two-year contract, something you really won't be wanting to do to yourself right now.

Why shouldn't you tie yourself into a lengthy and potentially costly contract right now? Because of 4G. Unless you've already jumped on-board EE's 4G bandwagon, and I certainly wouldn't blame you if you had, you've probably been put off by the cost, haven't hit your contract renewal point, or have simply not seen the point in going faster. Well, here's the kicker.

ofcom 4g logo

Most of the networks are busting a gut to launch their own 4G LTE networks before the end of the year. We could even see the beginnings of their broadcasts before the end of the summer (if it ever actually arrives). Even if you have no intention at all of going 4G, it should put positive downward pressure on non-4G plans too, which means it should be cheaper for everyone come the launch of the rest of the UK's 4G networks.

So, not only have you got the possibility of an awesome, fantastically-good value new phone being spat out by Google just next week, but you've also got the promise of saving an absolute packet on your network subscription, and that's just for Android.

WWDC 2013

If you were wondering whether you should buy an iPhone 5 right now, the answer to that is no, too. Apple is rumoured to be replacing it at its own developers' conference, WWDC, which will be June 10th this year, only one month away. So the same applies to you -- wait and see what Apple's got up its sleeve before sinking your hard-earned cash into something that's just about to be replaced. At the very least you'll be able to pick up the iPhone 5 at a much lower price after Apple's announced its replacement than you can now.


Lastly, but by no means least, if you're a Windows Phone buyer, you should also wait just a tad before purchasing something like the Lumia 920. Nokia's got an event that will most likely launch its new flagship phone in London on May 14th, which yes, is the day before Google I/O. As Nokia arguably makes the best Windows Phones out there at the moment, you should probably wait and see what it's got under wraps before you pull the trigger and land yourself with last year's model.

All in all, now is a really terrible time to buy a new phone no matter what OS is your penchant. Just wait a week or a month, you won't regret it.