As you may already be aware, a global shortage of semiconductors has hampered the mass production of various products they are usually built into – such as automobiles and video game consoles. Though it took a little while for the smartphone industry to start feeling the pinch as well, it’s finally happened.
The shortage has come about due to various factors relating to the COVID-19 pandemic – like factory closures and increased demand for devices intended for work-from-home purposes.
Though smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung had already stockpiled such chips, you should now tread carefully if you have just recently started planning to shell out for a new phone.
Choose a phone from a major company
Apple “has proved remarkably resilient so far throughout the pandemic,” Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, told CNBC – adding that smaller manufacturers such as China’s Lenovo and TCL and Finland’s HMD Global were likelier than Apple to struggle with supply.
Like Apple, Samsung is at least somewhat shielded from the chip shortage’s worst effects due to the company’s size and bargaining power. Therefore, you could find that major brands have smartphones in better supply compared to smaller companies – despite the reportedly high demand for low-end devices.
However, consider buying an iPhone rather than a Samsung handset
This is advised because Apple is apparently weathering the storm more easily than Samsung. Dale Gai, a semiconductor analyst at Counterpoint Research, reported earlier this year that “Samsung seems the one under greater impact” – with some of the company’s manufacturing facilities having temporarily closed.
The South Korean titan’s semiconductor fabrication plant in Austin, Texas was shut down for a month in early 2021 amidst snowstorm-induced power outages. Meanwhile, COVID cases were detected at Samsung’s Vietnam factories – leading them to suspend operations.
Therefore, for the time being, you might find a better choice of iPhones than Samsung handsets in stock.
Purchase a pre-owned or refurbished phone
Gai has predicted the chip shortage to trim device makers’ production forecasts by 10%. “I don’t believe the shortage will have a severe impact, but it will have an impact,” Glenn O’Donnell, VP and research director at analyst firm Forrester, has opined.
“The likely outcome here is higher prices for phones and deeper shortages for certain models,” he said about how the crisis would impact consumers. However, it would be easier for you to sidestep both problems if you peruse only pre-owned and refurbished models.
You could find plenty of these on the OnBuy website, which has a wide selection of mobile phones for you to choose from.
See if you can hold onto your current phone for now
According to figures published by ZDNet, smartphones generate between 85% and 95% of their carbon emissions at the production phase. Therefore, simply by continuing to use your current smartphone, you could avoid inflating your carbon footprint.
Of course, you could achieve much the same benefit by buying a pre-owned device if you find that you genuinely have no practical option but to replace your current phone.