Should You Buy or Hold in Today’s Smartphone Market?

27 Comments

palm-preDan Frommer says to hold off if you’re in the smartphone market right now. I completely understand his points: we know that Sprint (s S) is launching the Palm (s PALM) Pre between now and the end of June. It’s widely expected and not at all out of the question that Apple (s AAPL) will have new handset hardware to go along with its 3.0 software. Rumors of RIM (s RIM) adding an updated Storm to the lineup probably have some merit as well. Plus, there’s a host of hot new phones from Nokia, Samsung and others in the pipeline that were outed at Mobile World Congress and shown again at CTIA Wireless.

I’ve had a few folks approach me recently on what smartphone they should buy right now, and I’ve tended to give Dan’s advice with one important caveat. See, if you always wait for the “next big thing,” you’ll essentially always be waiting. So when I’ve shared my opinion to hold off, I also share the best, currently available options. It’s important that folks understand what they can get today, so they can decide if those products will meet their needs now and for some time in the future.

Case-in-point: I never upgraded from the iPhone 2G to 3G. Why? Because the first-generation phone met my needs nicely. Would I have liked a slightly thinner phone with a faster 3G connection? Sure! But I made an investment in the first model and my personal decision was that the next model wasn’t worth an additional investment. Obviously, many folks felt otherwise, which is normal behavior. It’s a personal choice. It’s one that you should consider from all sides, however, before making it. So when I’m asked what smartphone folks should buy now, I don’t simply offer the “hold off” approach. I present the pros and cons to buying now vs. holding off and take into account each person’s individual needs.

Out of curiosity, are any of you putting off a smartphone purchase until mid-year when some expected hardware developments come to fruition?

27 Comments

Montevale

Everything on the market today is pretty good… well almost everything.
This “pretty good” thing makes it horrible to choose a device for the long run, so don’t expect this to be a long term investment as things will shift faster than your contract with the provider. Don’t get yourself in the corner with a three year contract as you will regret this in a year.
We are seeing different camps and I mean different camps of devices like we have never seen them before. Each camp has it’s strengths such as audio, keyboards, email, enterprise features, capacitive screens, web integration etc however NONE deliver a COMPLETE product they are all coming too SHORT in one area or another.
One can actually justify carrying an iPhone alongside a Blackberry to cover the aspects of email, music and other what not iPhoneBerry do better than one another.
There are of course some die hard followers in both camps that would refuse to do this for the sake brand loyalty and the usual proof to the world that it can be done with the hands tied behind their backs.
Unfortunately right now every single one of the existing devices comes with a set of ropes that required to be put on prior use… but of course you choose your own color.

ophelan

I will be finishing out my contract on a AT&T Tilt (HTC Kaiser / TyTn II) this summer. I’m closely watching the market now, and am currently interested in the Palm Pre, a new 3rd generation iPhone, or perhaps the HTC Touch Pro 2.

Brian

I’m on hold as well. I’ve been a Palm lover since waay back, the 680 I thought was the end of the Palm line but the Pre has me curious as does future Android phones. I need a physical keyboard no on screen poking for me.

Nice to have choices ain’t it?

John in Norway

Wake me up when someone comes out with something better than my Nokia E90.

Griffon

Big thing that killed the 3g for me was the service cost increase. Talk about insult to injury.

Josh Smith

I’m hoping to upgrade late this year but I doubt Verizon will have anything worth buying let alone getting at NE2 pricing. Sprint may be a go with the Pre but I’d really like another Android phone. If only T-mobile and At&T could get another 2-3 towers in my area it’d be easy to switch.

So yes, hold off for now is what I’m telling people unless they are a minimal needs user that has a specific need.

Lee

I’ll buy the new iPhone when it is released, and even pay an early termination fee on my existing one if necessary. I have been so burned by Palm in the past with their crappy Windows Treo models that I wouldn’t care if they invented sliced bread – I won’t be burned with another of their products ever again. The iPhone has its flaws, but the app store is brilliant and there is no shortage of business productivity software and endless amusements for me to play with. Plus I now always have music with me too.

I see no reason to stick with what works – and works pretty well at that too.

HSK

Lee – just make sure you can actually make a call with it and get a 3G signal before you port. It is a great device, but ATT’s service needs to get up to speed in many areas.

Jose R. Ortiz

no holding off for me. i just got a bold although i’ll probably be picking up htc’s touch pro2 and s522 when they become available. i’ll only pick up the pre if an unlocked gsm version becomes available at some point.

T1 Rex

This is the reason people don’t upgrade operating systems either. Too much grief when they are happy with what they have and are heavily invested in using. One difference with smartphones is that cellular contracts expire every couple of years, often giving you the option to get a new carrier subsidized phone cheap or free.

Jim

I have been in a holding pattern for over a year. For me, it’s a choice between the new HTC Magic G2 (or whatever it will be called), new iPhone or Pre.

Bcreekski

I am trying to wait for a WM 6.5 (leaving the BB world) but really like the HTC Touch Diamond that just hit Verizon. I am elgilble for “new every two” so waiting is requiring some extraordinary patience

Da5id

I really like my G1. Right now I don’t see any phone coming down the pipeline that really interests me and would draw me away from my G1.

What I really want to know is if the same thought holds true for the Netbook market? Obviously like all electronics there’s going to be the next biggest thing. However, I’ve really been eyeing me a piece of the Netbook bandwagon.

Pam T.

I’ve been in a holding pattern to replace my Blackjack I for almost a year now. I really like the form factor of the upcoming HTC Touch Pro 2, but I have to say that I’m thhhhiiiiiissss close to caving on the iPhone (pending June’s annoucements) now that the Sling player is almost approved.

On the other hand, the BJ works fine and does everything I need it to. So I’m not in a rush.

Phil Lee

I’m at the end of an 18 month contract with T-mobile and currently have an MDA Vario III (HTC Kaiser). I got this phone the day it became available on T-Mobile here in the UK having had a Vario before that. In the last year I have switched from PC to Mac and am very tempted by an iPhone. I really want one now but will wait until Apple’s event in June to see what the new iPhone is like.

I also like the look of the Palm Pre but haven’t heard anything about which carrier will have it in the UK. In the end I think I’ll go for a iPhone.

Wevenhuis

My decision to hold off on buying a smartphone in my opinion is not due to the economic crises, but the fact that the smartphone R&D are not on the same wavelength as the conusmer. Each smartphone is getting better than the next, but when currently comparing the different smartphones, there is not always a standard in basic features. Sockets and ports differ per brand. Camera’s are 2-3-5 Mpix, some with flash, others not, some with autofocus, some not. There is also no consensus on touch screen size, even worse with the current HD phones: 3.1-3.5-3.8 inch screens. Choice and quality in touchscreens differ also: capacative or resistive, differences in pressure sensitivity. All touchscreen smartphones are also so close to improving handwriting recognition, the option is there, but no attention in review videos seems to go further than showing a notes app, without detailing the inking experience.
Onces thumb RSI is going to be the next medical hype, we will have no choice but to focus more on inking and ink to text recognition. Let’s not wait for this to happen in 5 years (with regard, among others, to rising medical costs) but devlop it more in phones now. We have tablet pcs with good inking and ink to text recognition, but not yet on the smartphones!? This is the missing step to make the phone complete!

Bill

I’m definitely going to pickup the Pre as soon as I can pre-order it (Ha! It’s a pun!). That said, I’m already a Sprint subscriber. If I weren’t, I’d probably be holding out for reviews.

Truedis

I admit to being in that endless holding pattern … I keep saying I’m going to buy the iPhone when it comes out but I keep thinking that the next model is going to fix all of the flaws of the previous one. OS 3.0 should certainly be a step in the right direction, but I’d like to see a decent camera. Plus I’m waiting for Pre reviews …

Fawwaz

Well im waiting for the new iteration of the iphone which might be coming up.

I can now feel the pangs of impatience clawing down on me.

Patrick

No, just bought the new BB Curve II from TMobile. The hotspot calling (free calls over wifi for $9.99/mo) really sealed the deal.

Awesome phone. (Tip: Don’t install the new facebook beta unless you want facebook to co-opt your calendar).

john

The Pre is a device that I will be keeping my eye on once it launches but I will wait until reviews are in before switching carriers to get it.

I bought a Curve for VZW in December and have been really happy with the Blackberry platform. Depending on timing and cost, the upcoming Niagara/BB 9630 has my wallet showing some love if it ever gets released this year.

Of course…this assumes I find a job in the next month or so :-)

Keith

I’m holding out for Nvidia Tegra/APX-based devices to show up. And that half-T9 phone, half-QWERTY MID w/Windows device that was just teased piques my interest as well.

Glenn Beeson

Waiting for all the obvious reasons coming up. I have no phone presently and not in much of a hurry; I am curious to see how this summer shapes up.

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