Dropping $2,000 on the latest smartphone might not be the smartest way to spend your hard-earned cash, according to tech commentators.

Technology commentator and journalist Bill Bennett says it really depends on what you're looking for.

He says the difference between Apple's iPhone and other cheaper smartphones on the market comes down to the privacy you purchase when buying a smartphone, and the software.

"One of the reasons why Android phones are cheaper is because you are basically trading privacy for money," Bennett told the Herald.


"The companies that snoop on you - that collect your data - think that it's worth however many hundreds of dollars it is that you save when you buy an Android."

Bennett says there was little difference in hardware but in software terms, the iPhone and Android existed in "different worlds" such as the connectivity capability between devices, apps available and functionalities.

iPhones and Apple tended to be "more secure", says Bennett. An example of this is encrypted text messages sent between iPhones.

"Apple does collect data about you but it doesn't sell it to anyone and that's not true with Android phones."

Outside the Apple and Android debate, Bennett says the price difference between phones and brands on the market often came down to how good the camera was.

"Every one of the phone makers will tell you they have the best camera."

A saturated and mature smartphone market meant people would struggle to find a bad smartphone these days. Even the cheapest smartphones were reasonably good, Bennett says.

Though higher priced smartphones were nicer and had better features, Bennett says, they were not "much" better compared to cheaper and older models on the market.


Bennett recommends Nokia smartphones as they were offered good value for money and also had a greater focus on software security.

Do you really need the latest model?

Until about three years ago each new generation of smartphone released was noticeably better. This is no longer the case and Bennett says there was no need to upgrade your phone every year.

Consumer NZ technology expert Hadyn Green also believes there was "no real" difference in iPhones and Andriod smartphones on the market. In fact, many were made in the same factories, he says.

"We jokingly say 'the Apple premium'; you pay a little bit more because you are buying an Apple product but there's not a whole lot there to justify it."

Green says the processing power, screens and exterior quality of both types of phones were about the same. Five or six years ago $700 was considered high price for a top of the range iPhone. Today, Apple's most recent release iPhone XS sales for between $2200 and $2400. A Samsung Galaxy S10+ is costs around $2100.

Green says phone makers can get away with charging so much for the latest release despite developments being minimal because people continued to buy them. He says smartphone prices had significantly jumped in the last three years.

When buying a new phone, Green recommends people opt for the previous year's model as it would be significantly lower in price and of similar capability to latest model: "Each year the step up is tiny."

He also recommends to wait at least four months for the "price drop" after a new release if you do want the latest model as that will be enough time for any problems to be aired.

Wired's picks on the best cheap phones:

• Google Pixel 3A 64GB - $789
• Motorola Moto G7 - $399
• Nokia 7.1 32GB - $395
• LG G6 Plus - $531
• OnePlus 6T - $749
• iPhone 7 128GB - $780
• Moto Z3 Play - $399