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How My Stolen Phone Made Me Realize How Unnecessary New Phones are in 2020

My Phone Got Stolen, and It Taught Me How Unnecessary New (Flagship) Phones Are in 2020.

Recently, my phone was stolen in a public area. It was a Samsung Galaxy S10, and it was beautiful. Thanks to technology, I was able to trace it being stolen, erase my data and more. But unfortunately, the phone itself is long gone. And I was SO upset, becuase it meant going back to my Samsung Galaxy S6 from 2016. But doing so has showed me how overly-engineered our phones are getting, and how shocked I was by just how great my S6 actually is in 2020. I’ve learned what I “need,” “want,” and “don’t care about,” and am convinced that most people really don’t need a new smartphone in 2020. 

Why Didn't I Upgrade After My Phone Was Stolen?

You might be wondering why I didn’t get a new phone, and the answer is also a realization. I didn’t get a new phone because my previous phone (the S10) was on a Samsung payment plan. I did NOT pay for phone protection, which would’ve covered it in this instance because I had plenty of proof that the phone was taken etc (via Samsung FindMyMobile). Not only that, but after over a decade of owning a smartphone without any major issues, I broke a phone in November 2019 (Samsung Galaxy S8), and now this in June 2020. Talk about a bad 7 month track record. That means I will be paying for my Samsung Galaxy S10 for the next YEAR AND A HALF while I don’t even have it. That really brought to my attention a few things. 1. Why do I need a $1000 phone? What do I even want a smartphone to do? and 2. Why is it normalized to pay off phones as we go and not own them? We’ve been debt free (minus the mortgage) since 2017….except we really haven’t because of these phones! Even when we got my S10 I recognized this, but didn’t really think twice because it was so normal. But what I DON’T plan to do is pay off two devices at the same time.

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What Do I Want a Phone For?

Ironically, Travis and I have talked before about how crazy phones are. It’s really cool the stuff flagship (the main phone launch) phones can do. But when I realized I was NOT going to get another new flagship phone, I had to sit down and prioritize my phone “must haves,” “really wants,” and the “nice to haves.” This time, the only priority was the must haves. 

  • The “must haves” Calls, texts, Google Searches/Chrome, Google Maps, Gmail, Calendar, Camera
  • The “really wants”: Social Media, Instacart, Spotify, Bluetooth connections
  • The “nice to haves”: Shopping apps (Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club), a *nice* camera, an app to track my runs, And content like Netflix/Hulu that I can put onto our Chromecast.

Once I wrote those down, it became obvious just how easy it was to find those exact features in a cheaper phone on the market, as opposed to the new and shiny. Let’s be clear: I always knew that current phones had more than I needed, but this was the time to look for how basic I could go while still having a functional smart phone.

After looking at many budget phone options, like the Samsung A10E, the Samsung A51, and Samsung A50, I realized that I should really just start with the phone that was in my closet. I looked up the technical spec of these budget phones and they seemed similar to my Samsung Galaxy S6 anyways. 

Samsung a10e: the budget option I'll buy if needed

Either way I felt decision fatigue and didn’t want to spend anything just yet. Actually, I started with my S8, but it was extremely glitchy from breaking it back in November. There was a reason I’d upgraded it back then. So I ended up just charging up the S6.

And it’s great.

Why did I think that a phone from 4-5 years ago would be going back to “the stone ages” ?! When I erased everything, I assumed it would be slow, laggy, and glitchy…. It wasn’t. I assumed that the camera quality would be awful…. It’s not. 

The more I’ve use it, the more I’ve come to realize just how crazy the new flagship phones in our pockets really are. My S10 was basically a computer and a professional camera all in one. Travis and I have talked a lot about how we don’t really need the best of the best. We don’t want to be stuck in the consumer rat-race. We want high-quality items that last, but they don’t have to be top-of-the-line. When I look at the technical specs of the budget smartphones, I can’t help but wonder why we haven’t been purchasing these all along. Or why the general public doesn’t hear more about these lines. The Galaxy A10e has really great specs, and costs only $150* (as I type this). If my S6 does become an issue, that’s the phone I’ll be looking at, NOT a S10 or other flagship device. 


Another consideration is how quickly phone depreciate in value. When I purchased my Galaxy S10, or rather put it on a payment plan….it was worth $1000 new. Now? The same phone brand new, unlocked (not tied to a specific phone carrier) costs $600 on Amazon* (This number can change, but as I type it the cost was $600). In 7 MONTHS my phone is about half the value, and I’m paying on the original high price with a phone that isn’t even “mine” anymore.


I’m not saying don’t buy a new phone. I’m really not. What I’m saying is, what do you want your technology to do for you? Do you have to get the newest to accomplish that? Think about it. 

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products mentioned

Samsung Galaxy S10 retail: $600
Samsung Galaxy A10e: Retail: $150
Samsung Galaxy S8 retail: $390

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