What You Need to Know Before Buying a First Generation Smartphone
2017 promises to be a very significant year for first-generation smartphones. Android creator Andy Rubin has unveiled the Essential Phone of his new company , which uses built-in magnets to connect to gadgets such as 360-degree cameras and charging docks. Gaming accessories company Razer has announced its entertainment Razer Phone , the spiritual successor to another first-generation smartphone, the Nextbit Robin with cloud connectivity. You might be intrigued by the idea of trying out one of these new smartphones. But you should consider what goes into buying what is essentially a standalone smartphone before you jump into unverified waters. Phones with modular accessories or high-performance displays are definitely worth considering, but you must be prepared to face potential roadblocks.
First, know what you are getting yourself into.
When buying a first-generation smartphone from a new company, know that you are good at it, and not for long.
Phones from startups like The Essential Company and Nextbit are full of innovative ideas and new interactions that you probably won’t see in more mainstream devices. For example, the gaming-friendly Razer Phone features a 120Hz display, perfect for fast-paced gaming and unheard of for smartphones.
Unfortunately, they also tend to lose support faster than products from more reputable smartphone manufacturers, for a variety of reasons. Blame it on poor sales (Amazon Fire Phone), poor management (HP Pre 3), or other corporate acquisitions (Nextbit Robin).
Every first-generation smartphone also runs the risk of being the company’s last phone. Take Nextbit’s Robin, a Kickstarter project that culminated in the acquisition of Razer after building just one phone. Or Canonical’s Ubuntu Edge, which never saw the light of day after hitting 40% of its $ 32 million crowdfunding goal. HP (through the Palm acquisition) released its first webOS smartphone, the HP Pre 3 , only to discontinue its entire line of webOS devices the next day. If you don’t bet, you should stick with what you know.
Read the warranty
If you are buying a first generation smartphone, there are probably a few flaws that have not been addressed. If you run into any problem with your device, your warranty is your friend. While companies like Apple have time-tested repair services like the accident-safe Applecare +, new companies lacking such infrastructure mean you mail your smartphone and wait a few days instead of take it to a retail store for a quick replacement.
And it is much more difficult to repair it yourself than with a more popular phone. You can buy parts for popular iOS and Android devices from sites like iFixit, but parts for new phones are nearly impossible to find. If you can, take advantage of any extended warranty or insurance you can get from your device manufacturer or your wireless carrier. These attachments will save you the hassle of replacing your cracked screen.
Take this for a trial run
While getting a first-generation smartphone is a gamble, you don’t have to stick with it if you feel like it’s not for you. Please refer to your retailer’s or wireless carrier’s return policy. If you are purchasing from the manufacturer itself, please read the fine print of the return policy. Most companies offer a 14-day return policy, and some companies and wireless carriers charge restocking fees for this privilege. You may lose a few dollars, but at least you won’t be left with a phone that you like just because it is different.
Third party support is not really an option
Brand new phones don’t make money for anyone other than the phone manufacturer. This means that you probably won’t find many compatible accessories from popular accessory manufacturers. Don’t expect to walk into a Best Buy store and grab an extra case or screen protector. Your best bet is to buy accessories directly from the manufacturer, the only company that cares enough about making accessories that may or may not sell well.
You support innovation (until support ends)
While it may seem like you are subscribing to change, take comfort in the fact that you support innovation. Seeing it as an investment in competition is one way to share this with yourself and your friends who ask why you didn’t buy an iPhone. After all, if no one had bought Nextbit Robin, Razer’s new gaming smartphone would likely still be a glimpse in the eyes of CEO Min-Liang Tang.
The purchase of a first-generation smartphone is essential to stimulate the spirit of competition. Diversity of competitors is one of the many ways to improve the quality of your products. After all, if you’re a company that has taken the lead year after year, why rush if someone else isn’t catching up with you?