Technology is one of the most fun industries to be involved with. If you don’t like something, wait five minutes and it will change! Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but the point I’m trying to drive home is that in tech things change — and they change very, very fast.

That being the case, how can you possibly know when to buy any particular phone, tablet, or other piece of technology?

Lies, Damned Lies, and Marketing

The first thing you need to know is the kind of person that you are. Do you like long walks on the beach and romantic comedies? Wait, different website, sorry.

Seriously though, companies who want you to buy “stuff” really don’t care what the “stuff” is, they just want to make you want to buy it, then make you execute on that desire… That, my friends, is called “Marketing”. Think I’m wrong? I worked at an advertising agency for a few years, and that is exactly how they do business. You’re being sold something that you may not want, let alone “need”, but through their understanding of who you are — what kind of customer you are — they can embed a “need” into your psyche and instill in you a desire to fill that need. Lucky you, they just happen to have something to do that! How convenient! Just hand over your credit card…

You need to know that marketing does this, and they are targeting you. Once you realize this you can make more rational decisions based more on “real” needs than “invented” ones.

I’m not trying to disparage any marketers out there. Look around our website, we’ve given them the space to advertise to you right along side this article. The point I’m trying to make is that you need to be an educated customer and start looking at ads and hype and propaganda with a certain level of skepticism. Ask the hard questions. Do your own research by visiting websites like Pocketnow (shameless plug). The more raw facts you have, the better your decision will be. The last thing we want our readers to suffer is buyer’s remorse. (Suffering from puns and bad humor, well, that can’t be helped.)

Who Are You? Who, Who? Who, Who?

If you want the latest and greatest of everything then you sound a lot like me. However, I limit my upgrade cycle to something more realistic: I try to get a full year of usable life out of my phones and tablets. That doesn’t seem like a lot, especially since most cellular contracts are two-years. If I were to go latest-and-greatest I’d probably have a new handset every 6 months and a new tablet every 6 to 9 months. If you’re this person you need to have a separate budget to satisfy your techno lust. It’s expensive to update frequently, and doing so will cost more money than a less aggressive approach.

For example, my Galaxy Nexus was around US$900. That’s a lot for a phone. I bought the same phone for my wife a few months after it had been released for US$750. When it was “stolen” she replaced it for US$400. And you can buy it now for US$350. (Remind me to tell you the “stolen” story sometime, you’ll get a kick out of it.)

Why is the Galaxy Nexus now almost a third the cost that it was when it was released? Supply and demand factor in heavily. When I bought mine, there was high demand and low supply, that equates to a higher price. Today, why would you want a Galaxy Nexus when you could get a SGSIII? Ah, but that phone is the latest and greatest, so it’s carrying the premium price tag — for the time being.

If you’re a bargain shopper, you can wait for the next generation to come out and grab the previous one at bargain-basement prices. Sometimes carriers will just give them to you (as long as you extend your contract). And there’s always the used market, though you run a higher risk there. Caveat emptor.

When Should You Buy?

Once you know what kind of customer you are and know what marketing pitfalls to avoid, all you need to know is the timeline for when devices compatible with your carrier will be released. After that it’s a matter of how much your want to pay, and how current you want to be. Let your pocketbook guide you.

If you’re frugal, like I try to be, go for the generation one down from the hottest thing. The bigger the spotlight on the new phone or tablet, the more anxious re-sellers will be to clear their shelves of “old” stuff, and the better the bargains will be. Two or three weeks after the device is available for sale is your sweet-spot.

Now, go out and grab some deals, and let us know how you did in the comments below!

Image Credit: Undead Android

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