Investing in a high-end gadget is a better idea than going for a budget device, even for technophobes.

When you walk into an electronics store, and ask the salesperson to show you a smartphone, the first question that you encounter would be “What’s your budget?” Now you probably would’ve had set your budget, based on your needs and wants – some of you would’ve decided that you want the best device in the market. But it is highly likely that most of you would’ve struck off most of the high-end devices because you reckon you don’t have the need for such a device.

The lure of a ‘budget’ smartphone is somewhat an irresistible one, but think about this – will you get the best that your money can buy? Further, will you be content with the device after some time? And most importantly, will the device survive the onslaught of constant refinement in personal technology?

Build quality

With gadgets, nobody can be too careful. Tablets, cameras and smartphones are highly prone to damage by physical drops, moisture and just about anything and everything that the world has to offer. The biggest enemies are scratches on the display.

A budget device is most likely to be built in plastic or plastic fibre casing. One drop and the shell can come apart in pieces. In case of inexpensive tablets and smartphones, the first thing to break after a fall is the display. The cost of repair for a touchscreen display is quite high – most warranties do not cover repair for physical or water damage. If you are lucky and the display is the only part that shatters from the fall, the cost of repair would be as good as a new device.

The reason why premium devices are usually expensive is because they are constructed out of more durable material. For example, HTC’s One X+, Butterfly, Nokia’s Lumia 920 and 820 are built up of polycarbonate plastic, which is much more durable than the average plastics used in gadget construction.

Apple’s devices come in aluminium casing. And if you think that it adds heft, Sony has gone ahead and made the water and dust-proof Xperia Z’s frame out of glass fibre polyamide, the same material that’s used as a metal substitute in automobile parts.

And if you are thinking that only a person who clambers over volcanoes needs gadgets like these, try remembering the number of times your phone has been carelessly dropped.

Design factor

By design, it’s not just about the way the gadget looks, but also how ergonomically the device has been built. The placement of buttons, ports, speaker grilles and such is much more convenient on a mid to high-end gadget. The quality of tactile feedback that you get from the buttons also tells a lot about how great a design it.

Most of the higher end smartphones use Corning Gorilla Glass on their displays, which is not just very tough, but is also scratch-resistant up to a great extent, and thus keeps your smartphone looking new for a very long time. Moreover, the quality of the glass is such that you can’t keep your hands off the buttery-smooth touchscreen display.

And accept it, a beautifully designed gadget with chamfered edges, machined aluminium frames, curved glass edges or back panels or just elegant metallic accents on the side spines look really, really good. Anyone would just love to take pride in owning a beautiful car – so why not a gorgeous gadget?

Tech edge

Attention technophobes, this bit is for you – the better the specs, the easier it is for a novice or uninitiated to handle the gadget. If you had to go skydiving, while you have acrophobia, would you hire the best teacher you can or go with someone with no certification only because they are much more affordable?

Most low-end smartphones and tablets come with slow processors, inadequate RAM, storage memory and outdated or un-upgradeable versions of the operating systems – this just translates to the phone freezing frequently, not getting your work getting done on time and basically defeating every other purpose for which you bought a smartphone for.

With a premium device, you’d get a very competent processor, adequate memory and good performance, making you master the learning curve in no time. A quad-core processor in a phone would enable you to finish your work on time, make apps run extremely smooth and also multitask.

High-end devices also get the most frequent updates, ensuring that your current operating system remains bug-free. Premium devices also tend to be more customisable, and have more ease-of-access options .

But the affordability factor definitely kicks in. Most of these devices on easy monthly instalments with zero percent interest from a hoard of retail outlets and online shopping malls. By investing in a premium device you can save on repair costs, aftermarket accessories, and simply the frustration that arises out of seeing your phone freeze over and over again.

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 7, 2013)
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