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Potential Purchaser: What kind of smartphone buying habits do you have?

In this fun piece, we ask you - the reader - just what kind of smartphone purchasing habits you have. Are you a Wheeler-and-Dealer or a Carrier Centrist?

Published onOctober 17, 2015

Midrange smartphones 2015-7

Once upon a time, phones were merely a proverbial blip on the radar, second string to the first fiddle of Windows based PCs. Back in the day, feature phones had extremely limited functionality. Things have obviously changed, and we are now reaching a point where smartphones have become an outright commodity, where any random company can sell them, and where even veteran established players are falling victim to the agile newcomers.

There are so many devices to choose from, and seemingly each week brings tidings of even more to come, be it a leak, rumor, or outright officiate. With this in mind, we thought it time to ask you – our readers – just what kind of spending habits you have when it comes to mobile phone purchases. This piece will look at several of the more general “archetypes” and then leave the question open to your own stories and sharing.

Let’s get this show on the road!

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Time-Related Spending

This category relates to the timing of when customers purchase their devices, be it immediately upon release or a significant time later.

Day 1 (Dedicated)

This category will be defined as those users who have to have the latest and greatest device on day 1. They may pre-order the purchase, may wait in line at a store, may import from overseas (even at inflated costs), or may change carriers just to have a desired device on or around the launch.

Day 1 (Addict)

This type of consumer is similar to the Day 1 Dedicated, but must have all major phones the second they release. They typically buy a new phone, use it for a short period of time, then immediately sell it – sometimes at a profit, sometimes at a loss – so they can get the necessary funds to finance the next big thing.


This type of consumer will buy a new phone, but doesn’t feel any particular need or rush to do so. It may be before their contract ends, it may be after their contract ends, or it may be if/when their phone breaks.

Contract Careful

This type of consumer will only purchase a new device when their current contract ends, be it to save on fees, or to get the most out of their purchase.

flagship smartphones aa (10 of 18)


This category deals with where a customer purchases their device: locally or elsewhere.

SIM-Free Supporter

This type of spender will only purchase SIM-free (factory unlocked) devices. It may be a result of faster updates, no carrier bloat, hatred of carrier logos, faster availability, no local availability, or a combination of these or other factors.

Import Master

This type of consumer will frequently import devices to their country instead of purchasing directly. This may be as a result of wanting a SIM-free device, it may be a result of carrier-related issues, or it may be a result of availability issues. For these individuals, the accompanying tariffs associated with importation are irrelevant to their needs.

Carrier or Country Bound

This type of customer will only purchase devices that are officially released in their country, and/or sold directly through a carrier.

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Psychological Behavior

This category refers more to the psychological conditions of the consumer’s habits.

Fundamental Follower

This type of consumer bases their purchasing decisions on the recommendations of others or on what is popular around them. They don’t necessarily care about brands or specs so much as having that which will allow them to better fit in.


This type of consumer wants exactly the opposite of what those around them may have. This might entail purchasing a device like the LG Vu or Galaxy Note Edge, or else a brand that is decidedly unpopular and unlikely to be seen around town.


This type of consumer will purchase a device, regardless of its specs or price tag, and stick with it for as long as possible. They may be interested in new phones, but are fine with what they have until theirs either breaks or else becomes unusable due to spec-related issues.

The Purist

This type of consumer will only purchase a device from the OEM’s home country of origin, either as a result of superior product accessories included in the box, or else a feeling that they must own the most “authentic” variant possible to truly have the “real” phone. Examples include Samsung Korean variants or HTCTaiwanese variants.

The Fanatical Fan

This type of consumer will buy literally any  device a company makes, or at least most of them barring a certain spec requirement. While they may enjoy the latest and greatest, they are equally interested – if not more so – in testing out all the offerings of their favorite OEM just to compare and contrast.

Android L lockscreen contacts multitasking cards

The Skin Trade

This category deals with the Android skin situation.

Flavor Free

This type of customer will only purchase Nexus devices as they do not want any skins or modifications whatsoever.

A Total Tinkerer

This type of consumer wants a phone that can easily be modded. They love to install custom ROMs and tinker with all kinds of settings.

OEM Please

This type of consumer doesn’t care about the skin, rather they just use whatever the OEM in question has put on their device.

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Financing Options

This category deals with how the customer finances their purchase.


This type of customer buys and sells phones constantly in order to finance their next purchase. This may come at a net gain, a wash, or net loss as a result, however in all cases a new device will be procured after sale.

Saving Spender

This type of consumer purchases a device at full price, but waits until they have enough cash on hand/to spare before doing so.

Carrier Centrist

This type of consumer purchases devices from a carrier, subsidized whenever possible.

Superfluous Spender:

This type of consumer will basically purchase multiple devices at any given time. They may have a separate one for each month/week/day be it a different color variant or different device altogether. They aren’t so interested in any given OEM as they are just having lots of phones and/or tech to show off.

Galaxy Note 5 clear back

Internal Concerns

This category pertains to the components inside the phones themselves.

Simply Superior Specs

This type of consumer only buys products with the best specs possible.

Spec Conscious

This type of consumer knows about spec differences but doesn’t care so much as their own personal usage situation isn’t affected by them.

Spec Sparing

This type of consumer doesn’t care the slightest about specs, and can’t understand why people need their devices to do so many things. They are mainly interested in making calls, occasionally using the internet, and sending some e-mails.


Bonus: Smartphone Saving

This bonus category deals with what consumers do with their current smartphone after it’s replaced by a new one.

Consummate Collector

This type of consumer saves every device he or she has ever purchased. Perhaps as a memento, perhaps because of data on the device, perhaps to use as a spare; the device is never discarded.

Could Care Less

This type of customer has no personal “connection” with the device, even if they may love the design or have had it through important moments in their life. It’s ultimately just a piece of tech and thus when the time comes, it’s either sold or tossed.

Hand Me Down

This type of individual prefers to give their old devices to friends or family so that others can use it.

Sentimental Seller

This type of individual does feel attached to their device, but nonetheless sells it because they want to get the money.


Wrap Up

While we have created a rather sizable list of categories and conditions, these are hardly all the possible permutations of purchasing. Rather, we have opted to include most of the more general options so as to offer you some kind of similarities to select or discuss. It is unlikely that anyone will be a single category or contention, as there are ultimately a multitude of decisions that come into making a smartphone purchase.

We want to hear from you now! Which descriptions best define your smartphone purchasing habits? Did we miss some? Leave us your stories, suggestions, and thoughts below, and be sure to vote in our survey so that everyone can see where you stand!