Phone Upgrade Guide: Should You Buy Now Or Wait?

It’s almost phone season again – the time of year when tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung are bombarding us with lavish mark...


It’s almost phone season again – the time of year when tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung are bombarding us with lavish marketing campaigns to persuade us to upgrade.

Their new phones vary somewhat, but the pitch is always about the same: the phone you have isn’t good enough anymore because this new one has a more sophisticated camera and a brighter screen, plus it’s faster. So give the “old” to a less tech-savvy family member or trade it in for credit for a shiny new gadget.

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 perform as well as they did before. It may not be able to run the latest applications. It may seem slow. Some components, like touch screens, can start to fail.

At some point, it becomes practical to buy a new phone, such as when too many negatives add up or the cost of repairing a broken part is too high. But often upgrades can be unnecessary as the things that make us unhappy with our phones can be addressed with some care.

In any case, let yourself be guided by your personal situation, and not by the lure of the telephone season, and take the time to reflect.

“In general, we should avoid tying the upgrade to, ‘Hey, a new iPhone has come out. Now is the time to think about it, ”said Nick Guy, editor-in-chief at Wire cutter, the New York Times sister publication that tests the products. “There is nothing wrong with having a phone later. “

Here are some questions to ask yourself – and some practical tips – to help you think through that decision.

The first and most important step is to assess your satisfaction with your phone. If there are things that make you unhappy, dig deeper into the issues.

Much of what makes us unhappy with our phones can be fixed, so knowing the solutions helps. Here are two of the most common frustrations and their remedies:

  • If the device seems slow or doesn’t last all day, one of the easiest and most affordable solutions is to replace the battery. Apple stores will be replace an iPhone battery for $ 50 to $ 70, and many freelance technicians can service Apple and Android phone batteries for about the same price.

    Replacing the battery greatly extends the life of a device and speeds it up. Because batteries have a limited lifespan, it’s recommended that you replace them every two or three years anyway, said Kyle Wiens, managing director of iFixit, a company that publishes instructions on repairing gadgets.

  • Another common problem is the lack of data storage, which prevents people from taking more photos and downloading apps. A quick fix is ​​to purge the apps you no longer use. On iPhones, Apple offers the IPhone storage tool, which displays a list of which apps are using the most data and when they were last used. On Android devices, Google offers a similar tool, Files.

Some major problems cannot be easily solved. A broken touchscreen could cost $ 200 or more to replace, for example, which approaches the price of a decent new phone, like the $ 400 iPhone SE Where $ 300 Google Pixel 4A. When a repair costs more than half the cost of a new phone, maybe it’s time to think about swapping out your used gadget for credit for a new one.

Phone makers regularly release software updates that include new features but also fix security vulnerabilities, so it’s important to stay on top of their installation. A good rule of thumb is to consider upgrading when you can no longer get software updates.

Apple phones receive software updates for five to six years. (Apple’s iOS 15 software, which will arrive this fall, will be compatible with phones returning to the iPhone 6S from 2015.) Android devices get them for a shorter period – around two to three years.

While security updates are important, it may not be practical for some people to upgrade as soon as software updates run out, said Sinan Eren, an executive at security firm Barracuda Networks. In countries like Turkey, electronics are taxed at 100%, which means customers have an economic incentive to keep a device for more than five years.

“It is a difficult situation and therefore a luxury to even think about safety,” Mr Eren said.

There are ways around this problem. Anti-malware applications, like Malwarebytes, can make old Android phones safe to work a little longer. Apple phones can also run applications such as 1 Blocker, which prevents malicious advertisements from loading on websites.

It’s important to imagine what your life would be like with a new phone, said Mr Guy of Wirecutter. If you’ve got a newborn baby on the way and your phone’s camera takes blurry photos, upgrading to a better camera will likely change your phone experience in a remarkable way.

But if you primarily use a phone only for basic tasks like making calls, sending messages, and browsing the web, a newer, faster phone won’t make much of a difference, as phones have been super fast for years. .

“Don’t replace something that works great just because there’s a newer, brighter version,” Guy said.

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