I had to buy a new phone. My 4 year old Huawei Honor 8X had been acting up for the past 3 months. Would shut down when 30% battery life remained. Once, when we went out for a meal, that I was treating to, by the time the bill arrived, the phone went kaput. It became somebody else's treat. At 70%, if the camera was turned on, the cellphone would switch off. Despite this, a dead mobile phone was what got me out of a traffic violation. A Powerbank, therefore, became a perpetually connected accessory.
I, therefore, bought a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, the 8 GB/256 GB variant.
My Honor 8X, other than the battery issue, had no issues. Most contemporary mobile phones are designed in the typical phablet/bar form factor. This did nothing to evoke a desire for change. There are no more devices in the veins of the Nokia N-Gage, the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, the Samsung SPH-N270, or the Motorola Mpx, to get you saying, "I want that". Slightly varying rectangles, are how most current phones are. Back in October 2022, before the phone started acting up, I toyed with the idea of buying a Nokia 2660 as a secondary device. The idea eventually fell through. So, when it finally came to buying a new cellphone, it had to be "different". Unfortunately, currently, "different" handsets are in the flagship range. No way would I be paying MRP for any device I buy.
To channelise efforts, I set my eyes on the flip phone only. Minimalist miniaturisation was a big reason. A fold phone, though different, reminds one of the bank passbook of the yesteryears & can only transform from huge to huger. Handset sizes have gotten ungainly over the years. Earlier, these devices were handy & cool. Today, we have normalised holding a bathroom tile to our ear. The sight of cellphones almost entirely jutting out of the hind pockets of well-endowed women wearing tight fit jeans steals attention from the derrière to the device.
Another reason, being a 90s-2Ks adolescent, the flip phone would inevitably be the ubiquitous communication device of the Hollywood protagonist of that time. Form factor decided, it narrowed my options. Since it was to be my primary device, it had to be a full-fledged 5G supporting Android phone. I also had to go max on the onboard storage, since such phones do not have provision for expandable memory. This precluded Nokia's offerings - the Nokia 2660 & Nokia 2780. Atmanirbhar Lava too has the Lava Flip in it's product portfolio. They can all be worthy contenders if you're looking for a novelty as your secondary device.
Buying at MRP was out of the question, more so considering what the MRP is. I was gunning for a deal, & a big one. Therefore, Amazon & Flipkart was out of the equation. I first put out my requirement on my locality's Telegram group for buying/selling/renting. Got more than a few responses, all offering to sell their Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 devices for around ₹25,000/= - ₹35,000/= [~$301-422 USD*]. Met a few respondents to get a hands-on feel. Much used handsets, these were, visible especially in the hinged portion of the screen. Even though I was looking to buy it second-hand/refurbished, I did not want it to look like one. Very demanding, the self.
Extended my exploration to the offline market too. Almost all were also offering the same Flip 3, some even the older single-SIM Flip 1 phone. All bore easily visible signs of prior use. My hunt continued. In midst of this search, I came across a Huawei P50 Pocket. Spec'd at 12 GB of RAM & 512 GB storage capacity, it runs the Harmony OS, an Android fork. The store manager confirmed that Google Playstore could be sideloaded on to it, something he would do for me if I bought it for ₹70,000/= [~$845 USD]. However, given Huawei's current street cred, decided to sidestep it.
The Motorola Razr series was my first choice of purchase. However, what was available locally, the pre-owned RAZR 2019 handset, was a single SIM 4G cellphone. The Motorola Razr 2022, sparingly available online at ₹121,500/= [~$1,466 USD] was not to be found in the seconds/refurbished market. A much fancied device, from a company making cellphones of which I have have very fond memories of using - the Motorola Moto G5 Plus, Motorola W180 & the Motorola T190.
I diversified my search on to OLX. Stumbled upon a listing of the Flip 4, that was purchased only 2 months ago. Thus, if purchased, it would come with 10 months of company warranty. Price listed ₹65,000/= [~$784 USD]. After initially contacting them in early January '23, communication tapered off, as I focused attention on the brick-mortar stores. When nothing fruitful was coming off it, I pinged them again. After haggling textually, they agreed to ₹55,000/= [~$664 USD].
Met at Starbucks. Verified the IMEI numbers. Clean. The device was in pristine condition. No creases whatsoever, no nicks, no bumps. Immaculate. Lady received the device as gift from husband on her birthday in November '22. She wants an Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. Hence, the sale within 2 months. At the start of the conversation, I let it slip by that I was observing that stores were stocking up on a lot of barely used Flip 4 & wondered why so. Partial truth, though, it was. Just a thought I sowed. Eventually I said I can not afford it at ₹55,000/=. They asked how much I was willing to shell. ₹50,000/= [~$603 USD], I said. Perhaps, because they had come from a long distance, they revised it to ₹51,000/= [~$615 USD]. We shook hands on ₹50,500/= [~$609 USD].
She did not, however, hand me the device immediately. Wanted to first buy the fruit company phone, so that she could transfer the data into it. 2 days later we promised to meet again, even though they offered to Dunzo it & I could UPI them after receiving it, they assured. I insisted on a physical meet to conclude sale. They had purchased a 1-year insurance for ₹3,500/= [~$404 USD], that offers protection against screen damage. They handed over that too.
Once I had transferred my data from the Honor 8X, I sold it on Cashify for ₹3,040/= [~$36 USD]. Also discovered lying at home, an old Huawei Honor 7X, once belonging to my mother, with it's screen cracked. Cashify paid me ₹1,747/= [~$21 USD] for it. Thus, I effectively paid ₹42,213/= [~$509 USD] for an almost brand new device, costing ₹106,999/= [~$1291 USD]. Amazon is retailing it at ₹87,999/= [~$1062 USD]. You can also order the Flip 4 off Flipkart.
One interesting offer, be it of undeniable illegality, is a "Global Warranty" phone. A few stores offered such a brand new, seal packed Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 device for ₹60,000/=. Cash only trade. No warranty applicable.
While exploring the stores, came across some interesting phones, never officially released in India - an Oppo Find N2 Flip, a Vivo NEX Dual Display, ZTE Axon M, at very competitive prices. The market for such phones, however, are overwhelmingly dominated by iPhones. People were even buying iPhone 6. iPhone 11, 12 & 13, people appeared to be buying by the minute.
Still playing around with my new purchase, finding my way to newer features. Plan to post my impressions after sufficient usage.
* - taking $1 USD = ₹82.80
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