With costs of flagship telephones just like theor comfortably hitting $1,000 or extra and even telephones like or the nonetheless costing a small fortune, getting a price range cellphone and even shopping for a used one can prevent massive cash. Just a few hundred bucks can get you a cellphone that’ll simply address all of your on a regular basis wants with some extra cool options thrown in. However what’s higher: shopping for a brand-new price range cellphone, or getting a used flagship cellphone from a few years in the past? Will the efficiency be pretty much as good? Can they deal with the identical duties? Are they each secure to make use of?
To search out out, I pitted two telephones towards one another. One is the Samsung Galaxy S20, a cellphone that launched in early 2020 and obtained a really constructive assessment from us once we bought our fingers on it. I picked it up preowned within the UK for less than £243 (about $290). Out there new for round that value is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, a cellphone with stable specs and a value of solely £279 (that converts to round $333, however this cellphone will not be out there within the US).
The purpose right here is to not examine two random telephones and let you know which ones to purchase. As a substitute I am utilizing these telephones as examples of what you will get with this cash, each for brand new and used telephones, and hopefully to supply some steerage on how one can get essentially the most in your cash. So let’s dive in.
Low cost used cellphone, low cost new cellphone
The Galaxy S20 was a powerhouse of its day, packing potent specs, 5G connectivity and a a number of digicam setup on the again that may take attractive pictures. It first went on sale for £899 ($999) so the worth I bought it for as a used mannequin is a large financial savings. However then the cheaper OnePlus additionally has 5G and in addition has a number of rear cameras and its processor is able to dealing with every little thing from Instagramming to gaming.
The Galaxy S20 has a way more highly effective processor and its rear digicam setup takes higher photos and features a superwide angle choice not discovered on the Nord. Its flagship design makes it really feel just like the extra premium gadget as nicely. It additionally presents waterproofing and wi-fi charging, neither of that are supplied on the price range Nord CE 2 Lite. However the Nord has one main factor on its facet; its age.
New telephones get common safety updates from producers, ensuring that cybercriminals cannot exploit any holes in your cellphone’s defences that might compromise your privateness. As telephones age they finally get reduce off from this assist, normally after just a few years. A cellphone that now not will get safety updates is susceptible to assault as these holes in your defence are now not being patched. As soon as a gap is discovered, it is open for any attacker to reap the benefits of for so long as you employ the cellphone.
Consequently, it is merely not secure to make use of a cellphone outdoors of its assist interval. OnePlus has promised that the Nord CE 2 Lite will obtain three years of safety updates, which, as a brand new cellphone, means it will likely be secure to make use of till a minimum of April 2025. Samsung not too long ago introduced it would assist its telephones for longer than it is beforehand performed, giving the S20 5G 4 years of safety updates — and a few of its newer handsets will get updates for even longer. However the S20 is already over 2 years previous, so it’s going to nonetheless solely get updates till February 2024 — a minimum of a 12 months lower than the OnePlus.
So whereas used flagships just like the S20 5G provide a extra premium expertise general, their usable lifespan is prone to be shorter. However two years continues to be an excellent period of time, notably when you’re in search of a less expensive cellphone merely to tide you over for a 12 months or so. Shopping for a used flagship that is a 12 months or two previous is usually a very good manner of placing nice tech in your pocket on a budget. You should buy newer fashions for extra money that shall be supported for longer, or you should purchase a lot older ones for low costs — however these could also be out of assist and so shouldn’t be in your buying record.
Solely you possibly can determine what’s extra necessary to you; longer assist, higher-end efficiency or value. Shopping for used or new means balancing these three components, however neither choice is essentially ‘higher’ than the opposite. It is simply all the way down to what is sensible in your wants or price range. For my cash with these telephones, I would go for the S20 5G. It is nonetheless bought loads of assist time left and its general efficiency — particularly from its cameras — would make it extra usable for me on a day-to-day foundation. However learn on to see extra particulars on how the S20 5G and the Nord CE 2 Lite examine.
Processor efficiency: Galaxy S20 beats Nord CE 2 Lite
My S20 5G runs an Exynos 990 processor — Samsung’s high processor on the cellphone’s launch — with 12GB of RAM, whereas the Nord CE 2 Lite makes use of a lower-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chip with 8GB of RAM.
In our suite of benchmark assessments, the Galaxy S20 was the clear winner, with higher efficiency noticed for each multicore processing and graphics. You possibly can see the complete breakdown of rating on the bar graph under, however the takeaway right here is that regardless of being an older cellphone, its potent specs nonetheless make it a powerful performer in the present day.
However whereas there could be a distinction on benchmark assessments, in on a regular basis use that distinction is not particularly noticeable. Common navigation round every cellphone is swift and freed from any annoying lag, opening apps feels instantaneous and opening the digicam is possibly a half second sooner on the S20. Video streaming is dealt with simply advantageous on each telephones, as is gaming in demanding video games like Asphalt 9: Legends, even with the settings set to most.
Certain, the older S20 5G is the extra highly effective handset on paper, however in the present day’s price range telephones nonetheless pack a punch and are not prone to allow you to down once you put them by way of their paces.
Winner: The S20’s superior efficiency does technically outshine the Nord’s, however in on a regular basis use you are unlikely to note a lot distinction. With in the present day’s price range telephones providing sufficient energy for many duties, most individuals will not want the additional energy supplied by older flagships.
Digital camera: Older flagship takes higher pictures
Though it was the Galaxy S20 Extremely that packed essentially the most spectacular digicam setup, the bottom S20 that I am utilizing right here nonetheless has an important set of lenses on the again, together with a regular view, an ultrawide and a 3x optical zoom. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite has a regular view and a 2x optical zoom. Instantly then, these of you in search of grand, sweeping wide-angle landscapes shall be higher suited with the triple digicam array of the S20.
And it is the higher digicam in on a regular basis use, too, with higher, extra correct colours, extra pleasing distinction and sharper particulars.
Winner: The Galaxy S20’s triple rear digicam takes pictures with higher publicity, colours and distinction. Its zoom is longer and its extra wide-angle lens helps you to seize photos that the Nord CE 2 Lite merely cannot handle. As a flagship of its day, the S20 was geared up with a stellar digicam system and it is clear that it is nonetheless an important pictures device in the present day.
Battery, show, design and extras
The S20 packs a 4,000-mAh battery that is smaller than the 5,000-mAh cell contained in the Nord CE 2 Lite. I anticipated stronger battery life from the Nord in consequence, however after 1 hour of YouTube streaming, each telephones had dropped from full to 92% and after an additional hour the Nord was at 82% whereas the S20 was at 83%. On the whole use each telephones appear to supply roughly comparable battery efficiency, which I discovered shocking.
Batteries in telephones do age over time, even when they are not closely used. I even needed to exchange a battery myself on an iPhone 6 because it had aged a lot. Two years won’t be an enormous period of time, however I did count on to see poorer efficiency from the S20 right here and it is definitely a mark in its favor that it put up such a battle. Do take into accout although that older cellphone batteries might need aged and it is nonetheless usually a wise transfer to cost your cellphone each evening, whether or not it is used or brand-new.
The S20’s show is smaller (6.2 inches versus 6.59 inches) nevertheless it’s bought a better decision and its AMOLED tech makes it brighter and extra vibrant than the Nord’s, so watching movies or taking part in colourful video games is a usually nicer expertise on the S20. Bodily the S20 seems like a correct flagship cellphone with a glass and steel building that feels much more luxurious than the fairly plasticky Nord CE 2 Lite.
You will additionally discover extra options on the S20 like an in-screen fingerprint scanner (somewhat than a side-mounted one on the Nord) and an IP68 score to maintain water at bay. The Nord does allow you to develop its 128GB of storage, nonetheless, whereas the S20 doesn’t. The Nord additionally has a 3.5mm headphone jack that shall be useful to these of you continue to utilizing wired headphones.
Winner: The S20’s premium design, extra vibrant show, water resistance score and comparable battery life will make this cellphone extra fulfilling to make use of each day and so they’re nice causes to think about a current, used flagship cellphone over a brand new price range handset.
Safety: The Nord CE 2 Lite offers peace of thoughts for a bit longer
As a result of any cellphone that does not have the newest safety patches is, software program safety on an older handset is an excellent larger deal than it usually is. Most Android producers are inclined to assist their telephones for 2 to 3 years, then successfully reduce them unfastened because it turns into too time-consuming to maintain updating older fashions.
With the Nord being a brand-new cellphone and OnePlus promising to assist its telephones with safety updates for 3 years, it is secure to imagine the Nord CE 2 Lite will nonetheless be secure to make use of in April 2025. The S20 5G will probably lose safety assist round Feb 2024. That is a complete 12 months much less usable time than the Nord nevertheless it’s nonetheless two years of fine use from now, which is not dangerous contemplating it is already 2 years previous.
Personally I would think about two years to be sufficient time to justify going with the older flagship, but when it had been an excellent older mannequin just like the Galaxy S9 that was already — or about to be — reduce off then I would not even entertain the thought. Utilizing a cellphone outdoors of its assist interval merely is not secure. For those who’re eager to squeeze each month of usable life out of this buy then the brand new price range cellphone will be the higher choice, however be certain that to test when every cellphone is prone to lose assist. Firms provide totally different assist intervals, notably with newer fashions, so chances are you’ll discover the distinction is not all that a lot.
Winner: When your cellphone receives an replace additionally is dependent upon your provider, however because the newer cellphone, the win technically goes to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite. Nevertheless, the S20 nonetheless has two years of life forward of it, which makes it nonetheless value contemplating.
Which do you have to purchase?
I first wrote this text in 2020 primarily based on a 3-year-old cellphone that was proper on the cusp of being reduce off from its safety assist. Then, the selection was clear; the previous flagship would quickly be unsafe to make use of so it was a lot smarter to go for the brand new price range handset. Having up to date the article with a brand new comparability, although, the S20 5G I’ve examined nonetheless has an excellent two years of usable life forward of it, which makes it completely value contemplating — particularly when shopping for used means maintaining one other cellphone out of landfill.
And people two years with an older flagship just like the S20 will probably be extra fulfilling than shopping for a brand new price range cellphone, due to its higher cameras, its nicer display and its extra luxurious design, construct and options like waterproofing. It is an important handset that gives a hell of loads contemplating the low value I paid for it on the used market.
So do think about shopping for used — it is a good way of placing superior tech in your pocket, not overstretching your price range and rescuing an in any other case nice cellphone from landfill. But it surely’s necessary to buy good: Purchase from a trusted supply (I used MusicMagpie within the UK however Gazelle performs an an identical service within the US) and ensure it is current sufficient that it will nonetheless obtain safety updates for a minimum of a 12 months or two.