Tech products: how to choose

It’s probably natural for someone to think the iPhone 12 Pro Max is better than the Mini. However, this way of thinking is probably a mistake. For years now, I’ve believed in choosing tech products that are “the best,” or with the fastest specs. However, after making this mistake too many times, it’s becoming obvious that price is not an indicator of quality. 

Let’s start with the iPhone comparison. The $1,099 base model iPhone 12 Pro Max should be better than a $699 iPhone Mini, right? Not the case. In my experience, the more premium iPhone 12 was bulkier, heavier, and seemed like it came from a time when smartphones were bigger. The $699 iPhone Mini, with two cameras instead of three, same processor and 5G, all inside of a compact aluminum frame, feels like it comes from the future. Be careful of what you wish for. 

I’m in the market for a drone right now. There’s a $1,599 Mavic Pro, $1,349 Mavic Zoom, and a $449 Mavic Mini. The most expensive one is the best, right? Not the case. The $449 Mavic Mini is smaller, has the same 31-minute flight time as the other Mavics listed, has good enough range, and best of all, no extreme pain when you’re flying the drone and afraid that you’re gonna lose it. 

From a physics perspective, here’s the same idea: velocity is change (in this case, net benefit) over time, while speed is distance (in this case, the amount of money you spend) over time (cost is time in this metaphor). A tech product could cost a lot of money, but that doesn’t directly translate into net benefit. In the case of the Pro Max vs. the Mini, my net benefit is actually greater with the Mini as compared to the Max, even though the Max is almost double the price, which accounts for a greater “velocity” in this metaphor. 

In decision making, it is often good to evaluate the net benefit of the product, weighed against price, instead of automatically assuming that “Pro” or simply the product with the most hype will be the best. In addition to using a better suited product, you will probably find that you’ll waste less resources on what you don’t need, and will have more resources to put elsewhere.

Baron Begier

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