It’s almost phone season – that time of year when tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung bombard us with gimmicky marketing campaigns to convince us to upgrade.
Their new phones differ slightly, but the pitch is always roughly the same: The phone you have isn’t good enough anymore because this new phone has a better camera and brighter screen, plus faster speeds. So give an “old” one to a less tech-savvy member of the family, or exchange it for credit for a shiny new device.
This cycle of hype creates an annual dilemma: Is it time to upgrade? We all know that after a few years, our phones don’t work as well as they used to. It may not be able to run the latest applications. It can feel sluggish. Some components, like the touch screen, can start to fail.
At some point, it becomes practical to buy a new phone, such as when there are too many negative devices or the cost of repairing a broken part is too high. But often, the upgrade can be unnecessary as the factors that make us unhappy with our phones can be carefully remedied.
In any case, let your personal circumstances – not the appeal of phone season – guide you and take time to reflect.
“In general, we need to avoid tying the upgrade to: ‘Hey, got a new iPhone. Now is the time to think about that,” said Nick Guy, a senior staff member of Wirecutter, the sister publication of The New York Times that specializes in product testing. “There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone later.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself – and some practical advice – to help weigh this decision.
I’m not satisfied with my phone?
The first and most important step is to assess how satisfied you are with the phone. If there are factors that make you unhappy, delve into the issues.
A lot of things that make us unhappy with our phones can be fixed, so you need to be aware of the solutions. Here are two of the most common frustrations and their fixes:
If the device is slow or idle throughout the day, one of the simplest and most affordable solutions is to replace the battery. Apple stores will replace iPhone batteries for $50 to $70, and many independent technicians can service the batteries for Apple and Android phones for about the same price.
Changing the battery will extend the life of your device and speed it up a lot. Because batteries have a finite lifespan, batteries should be replaced every two to three years, says Kyle Wiens, chief executive officer of iFixit, a company that publishes repair guides for devices.
Another common problem is running out of data storage, which makes it impossible for people to take more photos and download apps. The quick fix is to delete apps you no longer use. On the iPhone, Apple offers the iPhone Storage tool, which displays a list of the apps that take up the most data and when they were last used. On Android devices, Google provides a similar tool, which is Files.
Some major problems cannot be easily fixed. For example, a broken touchscreen can cost $200 or more to replace, roughly the price of a decent new phone, like the $400 iPhone SE or $300 Google Pixel 4A. When repair costs are more than half that of a new phone, maybe it’s time to think about trading your old device to get money for a new phone.
Can I get software updates?
Phone manufacturers regularly publish software updates that include new features but also address security holes, so it’s important to keep them up to date. A good rule of thumb is to consider upgrading when you can no longer receive software updates.
Apple phones get software updates every 5 to 6 years. (Apple’s iOS 15 software, arriving this fall, will be compatible with phones going back to the iPhone 6S from 2015.) Android devices receive them in a shorter time – about two to three.
Sinan Eren, chief executive officer of security firm Barracuda Networks, said: “While security updates are important, upgrading as soon as software updates expire may not be practical for you. with some people. In countries like Turkey, electronics are taxed at 100%, which means that customers have an economic incentive to keep a device longer than 5 years.
“It’s a difficult situation and therefore a luxury when it comes to security,” Mr Eren said.
There are many ways to solve this problem. Anti-malware apps, like Malwarebytes, can keep older Android phones safe for just a little while longer. Apple phones can also run apps like 1Blocker, which helps block malicious ads from loading on websites.
How will a new phone change my life?
It’s important to imagine what your life would be like with a new phone, says Wirecutter’s Guy. If you have a newborn on the go and your phone camera takes blurry pictures, an upgrade with a better camera could change your phone experience in a noticeable way.
But if you mostly use your phone just for basic tasks like calling, texting, and browsing the web, a newer, faster one won’t make a huge difference as the phone already has blazing speeds. fast for many years.
“Don’t replace something that works well just because there’s a newer, brighter version,” says Guy.