Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) introduced the cheapest member of the iPhone family on Tuesday, but when it comes to technology: do you get what you pay for?
The smaller price tag, which can be as low as $99 for the iPhone 5C, can be attractive to cash-strapped consumers looking to get an iPhone, but experts recommend shoppers do their thorough research to make sure the smartphone will still meet all their needs.
For a customer with the means to spring for a pricier product, that is often the better option, says Jamie Lendino, lead analyst for consumer electronics at PCMag.com.
He points to Amazon’s NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindle offerings as an example, saying paying for the Kindle HD at $199 is a much better investment than the Kindle Fire at $159.
He explains that a gadget’s storage and RAM offerings tend to dictate price. Consumers who don’t need a lot of storage can get away with the lower-priced models.
However, he warns shoppers not to get falsely lured into buying a gadget simply based on its price, saying Apple’s phone for $99, isn’t much cheaper than the fully-loaded phone for $199, but the actual prices are $549 and $649 for consumers.
“This trips up a lot of people with phones; the upfront price tends to throw people off,” he says. “You will probably spend about $2,000 on the phone for the next two years. The carriers are subsidizing the upfront cost, so $100 in the long run is next to nothing.”
But some consumers buy more expensive products before doing the research, just because they want the best, no matter the cost, says Ari Zoldan, president and CEO of Quantum Media Holdings.
“More often than not, most people don’t even use half of the phone’s capacity in terms of memory, functionality and capabilities,” Zoldan says. “If you can get a price-sensitive phone and have the ability to upgrade down the road and try new models, I would look to get the inexpensive phone for starters.”
However, Lendino says if a new phone comes up with a long contract (two years or more), the pricier model could be a better choice.
“You will be spending a ton of money over the next two years, and I would say there is a certain minimum cost to get the job done correctly. You want to do some research first, and realize that in your efforts to save $100, you may be buying something that isn’t up to snuff,” Lendino says.