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Consumer Reports: Phone sticker shock

Posted at 8:39 AM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 17:36:14-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Anyone who's shopped for a new smartphone recently knows they're not cheap. CR's top-rated phones are Samsung's Galaxy Note9 for a thousand dollars, Apple's iPhone XS Max for $1,100 and XS for $1,000. But the experts at Consumer Reports know not everyone's running out to buy the latest and greatest.

"There's nothing cheaper than keeping the phone you already have," says Consumer Reports Tech Editor, Bree Fowler.

Start off by giving your phone a tune-up. First, make sure the operating system is updated. That can help speed up a sluggish phone. You can also swap the battery if it's not holding a charge. A new one can cost you less than $100. Also, if your screen has seen better days, you can replace one on many older phones for about $150 or less. But, if your old phone is beyond saving, there are ways to pay less when buying a new one.

"You should think about phones like you think about cars," says Fowler. "If you wait a year and you buy last year's model, then you're going to save a lot of money."

CR says since smartphones are evolving more slowly than they used to with each new generation, you can get an even better deal by buying one that's two years old.

"Samsung and Apple do sell the vast majority of phones out there, but they're not the only players in the game," says Fowler.

LG, Sony, Google and OnePlus all have recommended models in Consumer Reports' ratings. Another way to save?

"Our readers really like refurbished smartphones," says Fowler.

In fact, 67% of people in CR's survey with refurbished phones had no problems. That's roughly the same as people who bought new models.