At the time of writing there are around 76.8 million unused phones in the UK. That equates to about 1.28 devices per person that could be reused or sold on to a new owner, so second-hand devices are widely available.
For a smartphone, look for a model that came out within the last three years. Beyond this, battery life is likely to be poor and you may be unable to install newer features and apps. If you are just buying a basic non-smartphone model, you have a little more leeway: the more basic the longer it is likely to last as there are fewer things to go wrong.
Battery life and storage capacity
Mobile phone batteries are often one of the first things to degrade, so it is good to read reviews that discuss battery life or check for details of battery life on the buyers’ page. In some models, batteries can be replaced, so it may be worth factoring this into costs when comparing models, although increasingly rare. The ability to change the battery also has the added advantage of being able to take a spare battery on long trips without access to a power source.
New smart phones often use a sealed design whereby the battery cannot be replaced without a complicated disassembly.
A quick web search will reveal lots of detailed comparisons and tests to give you an idea of which models tend to last longer. You will also find a range of ‘rugged’ models, which have physical robustness as their key selling point, although these tend to be on the more expensive end of the scale. Among the more standard designs, smartphones with plastic casing may look cheaper, but will actually be more durable than those cased in aluminium, which has a tendency to overheat and warp.
If you don’t need the all the capabilities of a smartphone, a basic model (known as ‘feature phone’) will usually save you money and last longer – you could even choose a rugged-design feature phone, which should last even longer and survive any mishaps along the way.