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Being smart about smartphones

Cost and functionality the main factors considered when buying device that is both a work tool and status symbol

30 Oct 2020 / 12:49 H.

PETALING JAYA: It is inconceivable that anyone would go without a smartphone today.

Statistics show that there are an estimated 30.41 million smartphone users in Malaysia now, for a population of 33.22 million.

Not unexpectedly, the younger generation (those aged 30 and below) make up the largest proportion of smartphone users. Latest statistics show that they account for 70% of total usage in the country.

Oddly, very few people actually make full use of these costly devices. They have more apps on their devices than they can use, and they carry higher capacities than they actually need.

Consulting firm LGMS Group chief executive officer Fong Choong-Fook said this is driven by the need to keep up with their peers.

Smartphones do not come cheap. A mid-range model could cost more than RM2,000 each. The high-end ones sell for nothing less than RM5,000, and come with all the bells and whistles that we do not usually need.

Smartphones now are so full of functions that they can replace the laptop entirely and this comes in useful for work, Fong said.

However, utility is not the only consideration when a person chooses a smartphone.

“It has gone beyond the status symbol that it once was. For the younger generation today, it also means keeping up with or staying ahead of their peers,” he told theSun recently.

Smartphone maker Apple has built on this to establish a marketing image that enables its iPhones to command a high market price.

Unlike most users, Fong does not believe in splurging on high-end smartphones if he does not need all the features.

Copywriter Eileen Lim is one smartphone user who likes to keep up with the trend, but she tempers her desire for new devices with cautious spending.

“I buy a new smartphone every two years but I go for a more moderately-priced version so I do not feel the pinch.”

She agrees with Fong that it is not necessary to go for high-end processors or large storage space if she does not need it.

Consultant coordinator Dorothy Low believes in getting her money’s worth.

“I don’t mind paying a bit more for a phone that won’t fail me after a year or two,” she said.

“A phone with the best specifications all-round may not be ideal for everyone. For instance, I hardly use the camera, so I don’t go for smartphones that boasts the best cameras.”

Web developer Jasdev Singh Bedi believes that youngsters spend excessive amounts on smartphones just to make a statement, to uphold a certain status or to retain their “presence” in society.

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