Six errors you should never make when buying a phone


It's tough buying a new phone in the 21st century. Sure, there are a handful of safe choices that'll see you right for the next 12 months, but they're often rather expensive, and not everyone wants to take the easy choice.

There are millions of phones out there right now, trapped in bad relationships because people bought them for all the wrong reasons, and metric tons of useless accessories clogging the spare bedrooms and drawers of the nation.

Save yourself from making the same mistakes and make sure these seven deadly errors aren't part of your future - and make the right next phone purchase.

Anything bling

iPhone 5S

Yes, it's shiny, but...

We'll say this once, so please listen carefully: "It's a phone, not a Faberge Egg. It'll be outdated in a year."

With this truism in mind, being forced to pass on a gold-plated, engraved, Swarovski-enhanced iPhone 4S as a family heirloom because you paid £2k for it isn't a good look.

This goes for gold-plated Samsungs, ruby-spangled iPads and platinum-cased BlackBerrys too, unless you also run a private jet and live somewhere near the Gulf.

Our advice: get the Merc gold-vinyl wrapped instead, as it'll be cheaper, and at least you can peel it off easily. Need more convincing? This could be your problem in six years:

Mini flagship phones

Xperia Z5 Compact

The one exception to the rule

Less of an obvious social faux pas, but the mini version of a flagship handset is an insidious beast.

They're obviously smaller and more compact, but they're usually lower on spec in nearly every department… Most importantly, in the battery stakes too.

They may come on a really cheap contract, along with hundreds of dollarpounds' worth of vouchers, an Xbox 360 and a free flip case, but the chipset is usually miles behind their big brother, and you'll hate that tiny sibling every single second you peer at the under-sized, under-specced little screen.

Don't do it, seriously - unless it's the the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact of course.

Unofficial replacement batteries

Battery kit

Always go for branded

You've got a decent phone. You've have been through beautiful times together. You're happy, content - replete with your pocket powerhouse. And then the newer version launches, with better bells and whistles.

You stay faithful, rationalising about pricing, update cycles and the like. But then, about two weeks later, you'll start to notice how often you need to juice up at lunchtime, or how a quick game of Candy Crush on the tube means you can't call your mum on the bus later.

You look on the internet, and a replacement battery is pretty cheap - maybe with fitment tools for sealed phones, maybe with an included desk charger (there's a reason for that). Stop right there kids - it's a waste of time.

You'll never get the sealed battery out without damaging the phone unless you're MacGyver, and if it's a replaceable battery don't ever go for anything other than an official (or at least reputable) replacement unless you have a charger in every room. That battery won't last.

Wireless charging cases

Wireless cases

Thickness and slow charging... yeah, you're living in the future

Fancy a slick, wireless charging phone that you can just drop onto a pad to charge, no more cables, no more fuss? Sounds great - except you've realised you didn't buy one of the older Nexus phones or a modern Samsung. No worries, there's an obvious solution in one of those clip-on cases that does the same job, right?

Wrong. It'll be marginally quicker than juicing up with a lemon and some jump leads, but only just, and it'll triple the bulk of your otherwise cutting-edge phone, as well as buzzing like a wasp in a can all night long.

Anything 'premium'


It'll either cost a lot or be pointless

We're not talking about the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, we're talking the same phone with a god-awful 'new' design that's been 'created in association' with some brand.

There's a long list of these, which we're not going to gratify with shout-outs, but we're offering similar advice as we did for anything 'bling'.

A 'reimagined' keyboard, different colour backlight and 'bespoke' leather car kit do not a poor phone rescue - even if a premium motoring brand has bolted their chrome logo onto it.

On the bright side, you'll be able to shock annoying car passengers into horrified silence when you tell them how much the entirely standard spec USB charger cable cost...

Phablets if you don't carry a bag

Phablet phun

Remember - these things are massive

Bear with us on this, we know many plus size phones have great specs. Yes, they've got huuuge super-resolution screens, epic chips and batteries to match. We've given many of them serious scores over the years because of this, but think it through, people.

Unless you wear cargo pants regularly you'll inevitably be facing a lack of trouser space on this one. The next set of stairs will get you thinking maybe that massive screen was an error - just sayin'...

And finally... anything with an aerial


Nostalgic... because it belongs in the past

Admittedly, you can pull them up with your teeth, like a modern-day Murdoch from the A-Team, but that's as far as the positives go.

The stubby ones from the 90s don't even give you that pleasure - although in fairness we never got told poor reception was down to 'holding them wrong', like Apple did with the iPhone 4's inbuilt version.

And sorry LG, that goes for TV aerials on phones too… this isn't a 1985 Gazelle caravan.

Mark Mayne
Freelance editor and copywriter

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.