February 8

The cheapest smart phone in Singapore goes to…


We don’t get paid peanuts (or even peanut shells) by Apple to recommend its products.

I bounced the little iPhone SE on my lap.

Ah, it was still safe after all it had been through.

In June 2017, it had just been back from the dunes in Peru, where it had been subjected to high speed winds that gathered dust and sand onto its surface, as I tried to take some shots.

It went through the sand dunes, and survived.
It went through the sand dunes, and survived.

Earlier in December 2016, it had sailed through a car crash in Iceland, where I had knocked over a railing, in my car. It was a snowstorm, and I could barely see anything.

Not sure what I had hit, I walked out of my car, and was promptly buffeted by wind speeds of about 34km per hour.

How did I know that?

I had stupidly taken out my phone in that snowstorm, trying to check what the weather was like.

It went through a snowstorm, and too survived.
It went through a snowstorm, and too survived.

And still, the phone survived. The iPhone SE wasn’t even a flagship, top-of-line phone. It was a budget phone that Apple introduced to capture more of the lower-end of the market.

But it had been the most reliable phone I had.

The Android vs Apple debate

I’ve had 3 iPhones over the past 11 years, since being a pimply 18 year old buying my first phone.

Phones Lasted me from Changed because
iPhone 5s Dec 2013 – Jul 2016 (2 years and 7 months) It was growing significantly slower
iPhone SE Jul 2016 – Jul 2021 (5 years) The phone’s screen could no longer register my touches accurately. I would tap on 1 and it would sometimes not register the touch at all.
iPhone SE 2 Jul 2021 – Present  

If you look at the diagram below, you would quickly notice that the phones I used were all from Apple.

Not without reason.

The problem of looking through review articles like that

Often when we look through articles like that, trying to find the next phone to buy for our business, we quickly forget that the phone we buy, will quickly grow obsolete.

There will always be another newer model that appears, driving down the price of what we buy.

You can probably tell that I’m an Apple fan.
You can probably tell that I’m an Apple fan.

The cheapest phone, for the best quality

So what can help us to get the cheapest phone, at the best quality?

Let’s start with the myths though.

Myth: Android offers better technical capabilities per dollar spent

When I get into such a debate with peers about whether they should take Apple or Android, I quickly realise that the most common reason shared is:

Apple is more expensive.

They point out how they can get the same chip speeds, megapixels, at a far cheaper price.

But this often discounts the price of reliability.

If you’ve used Android enough, you would frequently realise that there are times when the system lags for no reason, or that apps don’t work the way they are supposed to.

It’s because Android is a far more open ecosystem than Apple is.

Apple is frequently more reliable

Apple has been often criticised for being a ‘closed ecosystem’, where customers find themselves slowly pushed to use everything Apple.

Walk into the ecosystem, and you might find yourself locked in a walled garden.
Walk into the ecosystem, and you might find yourself locked in a walled garden.

Buy the iPhone, and you will find yourself finding its integration to the Windows PC difficult.

You will soon find yourself wishing you had an Apple MacBook to transfer files, backup, and do everything else.

If you’re a developer, you will also find yourself subjected to many rounds of testing and feedback before your app is allowed to be published on the App Store.

Unlike Android’s Play Store, which has a more relaxed policy to publishing apps, Apple protects consumers from using buggy, apps that might possibly crash their phone.

Myth: Android is faster, but Apple lasts longer

Others argue that the Androids might load a game faster or have faster graphic processors.

What they might not realise is that the Apple iPhones do generally last longer.

Whilst you might see your Android start showing signs of lag after 1 year, your Apple iPhone, lasts longer.

It’s usually at the 3 year mark that you start seeing the iPhone demonstrate problems like:

  1. Decreasing length it can last per full charge
  2. Slower speeds in loading apps

If you spread out the higher upfront cost of the phone over the years, you will start to realise that its more worth it to just get an iPhone.

Myth: Its saving money, rather than time

If you’ve ever found yourself Googling,

How to find system settings in Android,

What to do with Android crash,

How to force quit my Android app

Why does Android keep lagging,

welcome to the dark side.

Where Android’s user interface is not as intuitive as you first expected.

One of my first phones was an Android phone. And whilst it was initially fun to get exposed to a wide array of apps, it slowly became a farce, as I found myself getting more and more confused by everything that was in Android.

Apple’s user interface is more intuitive

There is a legend that if you handed an iPhone to some bushmen who have never been exposed to technology, they too, will know how to use an iPhone.

I don’t know how true that legend is.

But beyond just saving money, what you actually need to save is time.

Over and over, we’ve seen how the Apple iPhone is a better saver of time, with its easy to use interface. Its design elements are specifically designed so that you save time.

Less touches, more function

One of the key ways you can see this is to see how many touches you need in order to do something, anything, on the Apple iPhone.

Want to find a contact? Drag down on your Home Screen, type the name, and the results start populating. It’s a little like the Universal Spotlight feature on the Mac.

Want to set an alarm? Flick up, click on Alarms, and you’re set.

Getting consumers unhooked from their phones

Any nifty thing I appreciated has been Apple’s dedication to consumer privacy and quality of life. Apple rightly recognised that people spending (too much) time on their devices wasn’t good for themselves.

One of iPhone’s market-leading moves was to make the Screen Time feature on its system settings, so that customers could know how much time they were spending on their phones.

Their Screen Time helped people be more aware.
Their Screen Time helped people be more aware.

Whilst such a feature was available through external apps, Apple was the first to lead with an internal Screen Time feature.

Get it on Carousell

One easy way is to get it through Carousell. You might want to be careful here though.

Two things you always need to check before you make the purchase are:

  1. The battery capability of the current iPhone (ideally 95% and above)
  2. How long has it been used (ideally below 1 year would be best)
If you buy on Carousell, take note of these things.
If you buy on Carousell, take note of these things.
Always check the battery health.
Always check the battery health.

Buy it on the refurbished store of Apple

Something better is to buy it on the refurbished store of Apple Singapore.

This also offers financing of up to 24 months, which allows you to spread out the cost.

But you need to be opportunistic though, because it doesn’t always have an iPhone that people trade in.

They guarantee the quality, but they also need people to trade in the items first.
They guarantee the quality, but they also need people to trade in the items first.

Buy the model that’s just past

Another cheap hack is to buy the outdated model.

Whilst Apple phones generally preserve their resale value (with the price depreciating about 35% per year after release), the depreciation occurs at a slower rate compared to Android phones.

It allows you to save a lot more money than just buying the latest model out on the market.

Buy the iPhone SE

As you can tell, my favoured, cheapest phone, is still the iPhone SE. I think this is the perfect blend of horsepower and budget.

It gives you the latest chip, without the fancy gimmicks like a Pro Max camera, or a Face ID.

You might not even be able to notice the differences in how sharp a picture is. After all, a camera is only as good as the person who’s using it.

The iPhone is really the better way to go

Whilst many have complained about the exorbitant prices Apple extracts from its customers, the reasons why you pay this is because of

  1. Its reliability, which means less crashes
  2. Its longer lasting lifetime, at an average of 3 years before you notice any dips in performance

Save your money, and your time, with the iPhone.



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