So many new phones, so many cool features, so many neat innovations ... the time couldn't be better to buy a new cell phone! Right?
That new phone you're about to buy? Don't do it. Unless you absolutely have to get a new cell phone right this instant, now's a good time to wait - and not to buy. Allow me to explain.
The ever-expanding Holiday Shopping Season (TM) is more or less upon us - so far as I'm concerned, it starts with Back to School (TM) time, and runs straight through New Year's Day. Between now and Black Friday (TM), the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., you'll see a slew of new smartphones, tablets and other carrier-subsidized goodies hit the market, and you'll see lots of stuff go on sale. Black Friday and its equally silly sibling, Cyber Monday (TM), are the biggest shopping days on the American calendar. Lots of stuff goes on sale then, or leading up to then.
Pretty much everything that will be for sale in the US mobile marketplace will be out by Black Friday. But it's not out yet. And the stuff that's out might go on sale before then. And we all know there's nothing worse than Buyer's Remorse: The Geek Version.
So unless you really need a new phone RIGHT NOW, just wait. Wait three months (a little less, really) for everything that's coming out to come out, and for much of it to go on sale. Epic and Evo and iPhone and Droid X will all still be around come Thanksgiving time. But by then we should also see G2 and the first Windows Phone 7 devices and the Galaxy Tab tablets and who knows what else ... So really, if you can, just wait a little for it to hit the shelves and get discounted.
You might not want to buy a 3G-only smartphone right now, unless your the type who doesn't mind paying ETF fees to get out of your two year contract before two years are up. 4G networks are coming - some are already kinda-sorta-partially here - and 3G phones simply won't work with them.
Before Black Friday turns to Cyber Monday, we should know a lot more about what the 4G landscape in the U.S. will look like in the coming months. Sprint's WiMax network is already rolling out slowly but surely, and they've currently got two 4G smartphones in stores. Verizon's LTE network is rumored to be going live in at least a few markets before the end of the year, perhaps including San Francisco and/or another major metropolitan market. T-Mobile's HSDPA+ network already offers faster speeds than Sprint 4G in a handful of markets, and their first HSPA+ smartphone (G2) is launching at the end of this month. Even Metro PCS is about to get into the fray with the Samsung Craft and an LTE network to run it on.
(You're right, I didn't mention AT&T. Don't expect 4G from them this year. They're rolling out more WiFi hotspots to bridge the gap until they're ready to deploy 4G.)
So before you buy that new 3G phone, maybe hold off a minute and think about the next two years of your mobile life. Are you going to be alright with your device when 4G goes live in your neck of the woods? Are you going to wind up spending more money to break your contract and buy another new phone as soon as it does? Knowing that about yourself, might you be better off waiting a few months to see what's what with HSDPA+, LTE and WiMax where you live and work? Right, thought so. Now doesn't that feel better?
There's a teeny, tiny chance that instead of a new smartphone, what you actually want is your current smartphone plus a new tablet computer. I'm just sayin': Tablets are new and shiny and trendy, tablets are bigger and therefore possibly better for Web browsing and emailing and video watching. So maybe, just maybe, you want to keep that RAZR a little longer since it's paid for and still fine for calls and TXTs, and pick yourself up a Galaxy Pad, iPad, Motorola "Stingray," or one of the five thousand Android tablets destined to come out between now and Turkey Day. Just a thought.
Windows Phone 7, Nokia N8 and MeeGo, Web OS 2.0 and the first HP/Palm hardware - ultimately these things may or may not matter. But, heck, you've waited this long so why not wait a few more months to find out for yourself?
Seriously. The best present is the one you give. Or something like that.