Now Is a Terrible Time to Buy a Phone

Even in the fast-paced world of tech, where companies are constantly one-upping each other to be on the bleeding edge, you’re bound to hit a lull now and then. And by all indications, it appears that’s exactly where smartphones are at this very moment.

The Moto G6 looks to be a compelling budget phone, but you'll have to wait a bit longer to get one. (Credit: Adam Ismail/Tom's Guide)The Moto G6 looks to be a compelling budget phone, but you'll have to wait a bit longer to get one. (Credit: Adam Ismail/Tom's Guide)The industry is in something of a holding pattern right now. There are two major releases on the docket for this month — the OnePlus 6 on May 16, and HTC’s next flagship (believed to be the HTC U12 but technically unconfirmed) on May 23. There have also been rumblings of a long-overdue successor to the iPhone SE dropping at some point in the next few weeks, with the spotlight shining on Apple’s WWDC 2018 on June 4 as a possible venue for the announcement.

Then there are the phones we’ve already seen. Motorola’s new Moto G6 and E5 look to be solid budget buys, but we’re still waiting for those to hit store shelves. Meanwhile, the LG G7 ThinQ — the device the South Korean tech giant was counting on to claw back some ground against Samsung’s Galaxy S9 — emerged not with a bang, but a whimper.

MORE: Galaxy S9 Killer? The LG G7 ThinQ Can’t Even Beat Last Year’s Phones

It’s just not a good time to buy a smartphone, and things look to remain that way for at least another few weeks. If your once-trusty handset is burning a hole in your pocket, we suggest enduring the heat for just a little bit longer — at least until we see what OnePlus and HTC have been working on in the flesh.

OnePlus in particular produces its handsets in very limited production runs (the OnePlus 5T notoriously sold out after just four months), so that may pose an exception to the rule. If you’re eyeing a OnePlus 6, that’s probably a device you should jump on as quickly as it goes on sale, likely during the last week of May.

Of course, the most highly-anticipated phones are usually saved for the end of the year, where Apple and Google introduce their newest premium hardware and set the course for imitators in the process. Samsung typically unveils a new Galaxy Note product around that time as well, which you can expect to raise the bar established by the company’s more mainstream Galaxy S line.

As 2018 rolls on, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how those devices will look, too. All of Apple’s upcoming iPhones (save for that rumored iPhone SE successor) are expected to sport notches as customers continue to snap up iPhone Xs. The Pixel 3, which comparatively remains shrouded in secrecy, may even get a cheaper variant which could emulate the kinds of Android One phones we’ve been seeing more of lately. Meanwhile, a flurry of reports suggests Samsung will finally bring under-screen fingerprint sensing to the Galaxy Note 9.

The OnePlus 5T was an amazing value for the short time it was available, and a successor will be unveiled on May 16. (Credit: Jef Castro/Tom's Guide) The OnePlus 5T was an amazing value for the short time it was available, and a successor will be unveiled on May 16. (Credit: Jef Castro/Tom's Guide) None of this is to say the devices that will arrive over the summer months aren’t worth your attention — quite the opposite, in fact. The OnePlus 5T was one of our favorite handsets of 2017 because of the way it blended quality hardware and software with an extraordinarily low price compared to its flagship peers. We were also really impressed with HTC’s eye-catching U11, which dazzled us with its design, camera and power. We’re looking forward to the successors to both, and you should too.

Then again, buying a new phone isn’t always a matter of choice. Sometimes, fate forces our hand. If you find yourself in one of those emergency situations, you may as well try to get the best deal possible. The Galaxy S9, which only went on sale in March, has already seen some aggressive promotions from carriers, and those only figure to continue with Mother’s Day just around the corner.

But if you aren’t in a rush to pick up a new phone, or haven’t got a reason to be, hang on — your choices are about to get a lot more interesting very, very soon.

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  • carswell
    The last two LG phones I purchased were HORRIBLE. There is no wonder their sales suck, nobody wants garbage.
  • dallasbesty
    The latest smartphones are asking and getting premium phone prices. The absolute latest ones need time to work out the "bugs/issues" with all this new technology they are sporting. I can't support financing through a carrier, even with their "aggressive pricing". You are locked into that carrier for a period of time and have to put up with their bloatware. If you can't afford cash, it is time to come down in price point.

    I make no secret that I am a big fan of the Essential Phone (PH-1) from Essential.com They have the latest specs sans the IP-67 rating and it is only $499.00 from their website and can be used with ANY carrier except Google-Fi. If you buy it from their website, you can purchase the extended warranty at the same time you purchase the phone, and only then, and get accidental coverage.

    However, Amazon has run some great specials from time to time. Use honey.com to get alerts and you might pick it up for as little as $399. I got mine for $429 for getting the Amazon Prime Visa at the same time. So, I get the accidental coverage through the Visa card issued by Chase bank through Amazon with no fees and cash back perks.

    Why do I like the Essential besides that it dropped from it's original $799.00 price I was first offered during the pre-order stage last year. They have issued all the software fixes that plagued the phone at release and continue to do so and I don't wait for my carrier; it comes straight from essential. The other new phones on the market will do the same over the next year, but the Essential is running great RIGHT NOW! Tom's Guide needs to revisit the phone now and review it again.

    One last tip: Get a case for ANY of these new smartphones. Their tiny bezels and gorilla glass curved edges protruding above the phone'sedges are a weak spot on every new smartphone and they are all failing drop tests on the YouTube reviews testing that issue. Doubly so for the iPhone X and its glass back and front.

    In my opinion, if you are looking to replace that old phone, give the Essential Phone a good hard look. I recommend putting it on one the prepaid or pay as you go plans and save 50% or more over the regular "subscriber plans". My AT&T prepaid plan offers all the same plans, no bloatware, and is only $44.21 per month including taxes. Why would I want to be a regular AT&T subscriber, pay more than double that, and also be asked for a $500 deposit because I was a "new subscriber" for them? Shop around. If the carrier you choose stinks, take your phone to another carrier until you find the right one for your town or travel needs because the Essential comes unlocked already.
  • casmith2006
    Here is the question NO one is asking, what if any of these phone will be 5G ready and will the phones purchased have the ability to add software to get them 5G ready????

    That is the question that needs to be answered!!!