We're all feeling the impact of the economic recession underway due to the coronavirus. With millions of Americans filing for unemployment benefits, now more than ever should we focus on the best deal rather than the best model. And in no industry is that more evident than smartphones.
With the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, many OEMs have already stated their 2020 release will be delayed. So for now, if Americans want to upgrade their phones, the single best option, on paper, is the Samsung Galaxy S20.
But there is another option that is often ignored: 2019 flagships. And while you might be aware of this concept in general, we actually did the math. And the results, we hope, will change how you buy phones forever.
A common complaint about buying older devices has been Android updates. Why buy last year's model, which will likely run an older version of Android for most of its lifetime? Thanks to Project Treble (and other initiatives), this is no longer the case.
OEMs such as Samsung have led the way in improved software support. Samsung promises two full OS updates, which means the Galaxy S10 will receive Android 10 and 11 after shipping with Android 9. By comparison, the Galaxy S20 shipped with Android 10 and will receive 11 and 12.
Samsung will push out monthly security patches for three years and quarterly security patches in its fourth year. For context, this translates to the Galaxy S10 receiving its last OTA in December 2023, followed by the S20 a year later.
According to Geekbench 5, the Galaxy S20 (and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865) is around 14% faster than the Galaxy S10 in single-core performance, and 27% in multi-core. Those numbers might sound big, but in the real world, these are not gains you'll really notice.
But the story is much different for OnePlus. The 7T, with its Snapdragon 855+ SoC, is only 4% faster in single-core and 1% faster in multi-core performance. The result is a compute score that's merely 11% better than the 7 Pro.
One of the biggest factors for the high price of 2020 flagships is the 5G modem that Qualcomm requires all OEMs to buy when they purchase the latest flagship chipset. But like the early days of 4G, for most consumers, it isn't worth adopting yet, as there are only 40 cities that offer true 5G speeds.
The biggest take away is how much you are not losing by getting an older device. The OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T have such similar components that you really should only look at the price as a deciding factor.
So is it worth it? Nope. With the Galaxy S10 40% cheaper than the S20 right now, the average 34% increase in sheer spec numbers doesn't offset the difference. And that's just specs, not real-world performance, which should be an even smaller gap. Same could be said of the OnePlus 7 Pro's current MSRP being 17% lower than the 7T's — the 5% spec bump just isn't good value for your dollar.
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