It’s almost phone season again — the time of year when tech companies like, Google, and Samsung bombard us with glitzy marketing campaigns to persuade us to upgrade. Their new phones vary somewhat, but the pitch is always roughly the same: The phone you have is no longer good enough because this new one has a fancier camera and brighter screen, plus it’s faster. So give the “old” one to a less tech-inclined or trade it in for credit toward a shiny new gadget.
This hype cycle creates an annual dilemma: Is it time to upgrade? We all know that after a few years, our phones no longer work as well as they used to. It might not be able to run the latest apps. It can feel sluggish. Some components, like touch screens, may begin to fail. At some point, it does become practical to get a new phone, like when too many negatives add up, or the cost of fixing a broken part is too high. But often, upgrades may be unnecessary because the elements that make us unhappy with our phones can be remedied with some care.
Let your situation — not the allure of phone season — guide you, and take your time to contemplate. “In general, we need to get away from tying the upgrade to: ‘Hey, there’s a new iPhone out. Now is theNick Guy, a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, The New York Times’s sister publication that tests products. “There’s nothing wrong with getting a phone later.” Here are some questions to ask yourself advice — to help deliberate this decision.
Am I unhappy with my phone?
The first and most crucial step is gauging your phone’s satisfaction. If elements make you unhappy, drill down on the problems. What makes us displeased with our phones can be fixed, so it helps to be aware of the solutions. Here are two of the most common frustrations and their remedies:
- If the device feels slow or doesn’t last , replacing the battery is one of the most straightforward and affordable solutions. will replace an iPhone battery for $50 to $70, and plenty of independent technicians can service batteries for Apple and Android phones for around the same price. Replacing the and speeds it up. Because batteries have a finite life, it’s recommended to replace them every two to three years anyway, said Kyle Wiens, the chief executive of iFixit. This company publishes instructions on .
- Another common issue is running out of data storage, which prevents people from taking more photos and downloading apps. A quick fix is to purge apps that you no longer use. Storage tool on iPhones, which shows a list of apps that take up the most data and when they were last used. On , Google offers a similar tool, Files.
Some significant problems can’t be easily remedied. For example, a broken touch-screen could cost $200 or more to replace, which approaches the price of a decent new phone, like the $4004A. When a repair costs more than half the cost of a new phone, it may be time to consider trading your beat-up gadget for credit toward a new one.
Can I get software updates?
Phone manufacturers regularly publish software updates that include newvulnerabilities, so staying on top of installing them is crucial. A good to consider an upgrade when you can no longer get software updates.
Apple phones get software updates for five to six years. (Apple’s iOS 15 software, arriving this, will be compatible with phones back to the iPhone 6S from 2015.) Android devices get them for a shorter period — about two to three years. Although are essential, it may not be practical for some people to upgrade when software updates run out, said Sinan Eren, an executive at Barracuda Networks. In countries like Turkey, various taxes can add up to a markup of about 100 percent on electronics, he said, meaning customers have an economic incentive to hold on to a device for longer than five years. “It’s a tough situation and, therefore, a luxury to even think about security,” Mr. Eren said. There are ways to work around this problem. Anti-malware apps, like Malwarebytes, may keep older running safely just a little longer. Apple like 1Blocker, which blocks malicious ads from loading on websites.
How would a new phone change my life?
It is essential to imagine your life with a new phone, said Mr. Guy of Wirecutter. If you have a newborn on the way and yourtakes blurry shots, an upgrade with a better camera will probably change your phone experience remarkably. But if you mainly use a , messaging, and browsing the web, a newer, faster one won’t make a big difference because phones have been fast for years. “Don’t replace something that works just fine just because there’s a newer, shinier version out,” Mr. Guy said.