Like how people have preferences about the music and food they eat, there will be a preferred smart device for you—iOS or Android for starters, then which brand, which model, what features, and more.
Now, while manufacturers would love to rush out to the stores each time a new model is announced, it is simply not financially feasible or logical for us to buy a new smartphone every year.
Phones are powerful enough that the average user won’t notice the difference between the newest, shiniest model compared to last years. Other factors such as e-waste and pollution, the constant price increases for new phones (looking at you, Apple), and many other reasons are actually causing people to hold off on upgrading as it is simply not required.
So when should you upgrade? It honestly depends entirely on you. How often do you use your phone? What do you use it for? Are you a power user who relies on their phone for their business?
There are many questions to answer before making a decision, and just like how your personality, needs, and wants ultimately shape the decision to buy the device you did, hopefully, I can help you make an informed decision on when you should look to upgrade your phone.
1. Your device has slowed beyond repair or fixes
Your smartphone’s performance will surely degrade over time, but with how powerful phones are getting each year, the slowdown can be attributed to software or apps. If your device has become laggy or slow, performing triage to locate the issue’s source should be your first action rather than outright buying a new phone.
A few things you can do is to free up space by deleting apps and moving data to the cloud, update your phones, try to identify if an app is putting an inordinate load on your phone, and the nuclear option, reformatting your phone.
If you reformat the phone and it is still slow, then yes, it is probably time for an upgrade.
2. Manufacturers have ceased updates for your device
If your manufacturer has ceased support for your device, there are a few things you should do. Pat yourself on the back for using a device till the end of its support cycle, and look towards getting an upgrade. With the constant cycle of devices being released, older devices will be dropped from official support, and if that is the case, an upgrade is warranted.
Software and firmware updates are important for security reasons as hackers are constantly seeking new methods and means to infiltrate your devices. Without the constant updates, it leaves your smart device open to a ruinous cyber attack.
3. Battery life has become poor
This comes with a caveat. Depending on your device, a battery is often a fairly easy replacement fix from either first or third-party stores. If your device is still losing its charge really quickly, try replacing the battery.
Sometimes though, even after a battery replacement, your device may still not perform well and could be indicative of failing hardware. If you have an old phone with a non-removable battery and it’s losing charge fast, rather than opting for a third-party battery replacement, you should think whether it would be more logical to get a new device.
There is an option for you to self-repair your device, and YouTube guides exist that show you how to range from basic component swaps to outright logic board revival. These, however, are not recommended as it can and usually will void the warranty of your device.
4. Component failure
Like a battery losing its capacity over time, components in your smartphone can fail. Depending on the component, an outright replacement device can make more sense if it is a particularly important or expensive component, such as the logic board.
Some smartphones are actually designed to be difficult to repair or have specific components replaced and actually utilize the scummy tactic of gluing or soldering parts straight onto the board to make it near impossible to fix your phones (looking at you again, Apple).
A good way to take care of your device is, as you obviously know, a phone case and screen protectors from a reputable online store.
5. Do you need it?
This is the simplest one. More often than not, you won’t need that new phone, but all that slick marketing and the advertising exist to ensure you into thinking that you need one. But, take a good long look at how you use your phone and whether you legitimately need one.
Suppose you are a tech aficionado and buy new devices as your hobby, sure. For the rest of us, though, if we are the average user who texts, uses social media, watches a video, and takes pictures regularly, then it’s likely that we don’t need to upgrade each year.
Frankly, phones are getting more powerful each year, and we’ve hit a performance ceiling. Sure, synthetic benchmarks will obviously show the increase in power, but real-world performance should largely be the same except for demanding games.
Suppose you are a power user who absolutely lives on their phone, then it is a different story, and even then if your current device still works great. Then why? Is there a new killer feature that will make your life easier?
If you do decide to upgrade, be smart, and look at options online. Some stores can offer great value for trade-ins or offer the best price.
So when do you upgrade? Every two or three years is a good general rule of thumb to follow if you feel the need to get a new device every so often. Otherwise, it really is quite simple. If your phone still works, then you probably don’t need to.