Get the newest technology without breaking the bank

KIMT News 3 – We rarely leave the house without it. The technology that fits in the palm of our hands and keeps us connected to the world around us in an effort to make our lives a little bit easier. You’ve likely realized we are talking about our cell phones. The simplicity of using the device can be overshadowed by the seemingly ever-changing improvements.

“There’s always going to be new phones coming out,” says Consumer Technology Expert, Ryan Stephen.

The very first mobile call was made by cell phone inventor, Dr. Martin Cooper in 1973. The mobility of these not-so-small phones was impressive, but today we expect so much more.

“I use email for work. I also use texting, surfing the Internet, and sometimes, for making reservations, checking in for flights and so forth,” says Cellular Consumer, Steve Nash.

He’s one of millions relying on that technology every day.  Stephens has worked in the cell phone industry for 6 years. He’s one of those technology-savvy folks who’s always looking to get that newest gadget.

“There’s certainly a lot of people who are always looking for the best and brightest. I’m actually one of those people. People who are really into it and really passionate about it, like to have that new device,” says Stephen.

Other folks say they usually wait it out.

We actually spend some time between upgrading cell phones, probably about every 4 years or so. When it does come time to upgrade, we have some tips and helpful hints.

“A lot of times people make the mistake of saying,  I just want to go this route because of this phone, but they don’t recognize the billing side, or how much things cost, or coverage,” says Iowa Cell Phones and Repair Owner Philip Biermann.

He says, if you’re always wanting the most recent model, you better have a thicker wallet.  The question is, are they worth the money? Biermann says it seems like that earth shattering new technology has come to a standstill.

“When they come out with some phones, it’s like holy cow, it can do this, this, and this. Just a big list of different things. Where now, it’s just kind of cool, it has everything that it had before, and maybe two or three cool new things,” says Biermann.

We compared the key features in the iPhone 4s and 5s, because according to a 2013 Nielson report, it’s the device of choice for 40 percent of cell phone users.  Most retailers sell the 5s for upwards of $200.00, more than the 4s when renewing a two year contract. The two models are almost identical. The few differences include, the 5s has a larger screen and will hold its power longer, but the most desirable upgrade could be its speed.

“As far as the features coming out on the phones, you don’t see a lot of differences in the overall technology, you just see the general speeds increasing of the phones,” says Stephen.

The 4s is only capable of a 4G signal, while the 5s utilizes new LTE towers. Making it much faster. Those high speeds are only beneficial though, if you get the LTE service. When testing speeds throughout the area, we found fast speeds in the areas including Charles City, Albert Lea, and Rochester. The speeds in Mason City, however, were somewhat slower in different areas. It really depends on where you are, and what towers are near-by. Nash recently upgraded his phone for this very reason, and is happy he did.

“It’s a lot faster. Screen resolution is a lot higher, and the apps are better, so I probably shouldn’t have waited quite as long,” says Nash.

Let’s say you’re ready to trade that older model in to utilize those faster speeds, but you don’t want to spend big bucks on a phone just to have another one come out a few months later. Our experts have some advice.

“Generally, after a phone has been out for six months, the new one is going to be closer than farther away so you’re better able to wait,” says Stephen.

Big name companies like, Apple and Samgsung always have the next best “thing” in the works.

“They use that to reel people in, so the more money they can get quickly helps get those new ones out, the more they can pull them in,” says Biermann.

Even though that contract is up, waiting a little longer, may be your best bet.

“Really, if your current phone is meeting your needs and you’re not seeing any slow downs or nothing is wrong with it, it may not be a bad idea to wait it out,” says Stephen.

Once that newest model comes out, chances are the price on the next one down, could drop to a penny. Stephen says those phones still have a lot to offer. However, that’s not the only reason to wait.

“Definitely shopping around is important. The holiday season is a time when you’ll see a lot of cell phone sales. You don’t necessarily even need to look at only brick-and-mortar stores, online offers a lot of available options as well,” says Stephen.

If you don’t have the luxury of waiting, due to a broken phone or other issues, ask your retailer if they have any recycled or lightly used phones. They often have newer models for half price, which comes in handy if you’re still in a contract.

Many folks always want to know what’s in the works behind the scenes, before it hits the shelves. Biermann had an opportunity to sit in on a Google conference where they unveiled a phone they have in the works. He says this phone will be fully customizable and more affordable than what is on the market now. What’s even more interesting, he adds is that it doesn’t appear as if they are partnering with anyone, that they are creating their own, very different network. It’s not 4G or LTE, rather it would be a wi-fi based network using drones to disperse the signal.

“There’s even talk of, instead of having physical big ugly towers, having actual drones that can fly distributing the signal,” says Biermann.

He says those signal-baring drones could fly for 5 years straight. Google will potentially launch this ground breaking technology in the next year and a half.

 

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