It’s almost phone time again – the time of year when tech companies like Apple, Google and Samsung bombard us with flashy marketing campaigns to persuade us to upgrade.
Their new phones are a bit different, but the pitch is always the same: the phone you have is not so good anymore because this new phone has a fancy camera and a bright screen, plus it’s fast. So give the “old” to a low-tech family member or trade it for credit to 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 don’t work as well as they used to. It may not be able to run the latest apps. It can feel sluggish. Some components, such as the touch screen, may start to fail.
At some point, getting a new phone becomes practical, such as when there is a very negative increase or the cost of repairing a broken part is too high. But often, upgrades can be unnecessary because the elements that make us unhappy with our phone can be treated with some caution.
In any case, your personal situation – not the inclination of the phone season – will guide you, and take your time to consider.
“In general, we need to get away from tying the upgrade: ‘Hey, there’s a new iPhone out there. Now it’s time to think about it,'” said the sister of the New York Times publication, a senior at Wire Cutter. “There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone later,” said Nick Guy, a staff writer who reviews the product.
Here are some questions to ask yourself – and some practical tips – to help you make that decision.
Am I unhappy with my phone?
The first and most important step is to gauge your satisfaction with your phone. If there are elements that make you unhappy, solve the problems.
Anything that makes us unhappy with our phone can be fixed, so it helps to be aware of the solution. Here are two common frustrations and their treatments:
If the device feels sluggish or doesn’t run all day, the easiest and cheapest solution is to replace the battery. Apple stores will replace the iPhone’s battery for $ 50 to $ 70, and many independent technicians can offer batteries for Apple and Android phones at almost the same price.
Replacing the battery greatly extends the life of the device and speeds it up. Because batteries have a limited lifespan, it is recommended that they be replaced every two to three years, said Kyle Vance, chief executive of iFix, a company that publishes gift repair instructions.
Another common problem is the depletion of data storage, which prevents people from taking more photos and downloading apps. A quick fix is to clear the apps you no longer use. On iPhones, Apple offers the iPhone Storage Tool, which lists the apps that take the most data and when they were last used. On Android devices, Google offers a similar tool, Files.
Some big problems can’t be solved easily. A broken touch screen can cost 200 or more, for example, close to the price of a good new phone, such as the $ 400 iPhone SE or $ 300 Google Pixel 4A. When a repair costs more than half the price of a new phone, it may be time for you to think of credit for the new phone in your beat-up gadget.
Can I get software updates?
Phone manufacturers regularly publish software updates that include new features but also eliminate security vulnerabilities, so it’s important to be on top when installing them. A good rule of thumb is to consider upgrading when you can’t get any more software updates.
Apple phones receive software updates every five to six years. (Apple’s iOS 15 software, which arrives this fall, will be compatible with phones returning to the iPhone 6S from 2015.) Android devices get them for a short time – about two Two to three years.
Although security updates are important, for some people, upgrading to software updates may not be practical, said Sanan Erin, executive of security firm Barracuda Networks. In countries like Turkey, electronics are taxed at 100 percent, meaning consumers are financially motivated to own a device for more than five years.
“It’s a difficult situation and so it’s a luxury to think about security,” Mr Erin said.
There are ways to solve this problem. Anti-malware apps, such as malware bytes, can safely run older Android phones for a while. Apple phones can also run apps like Blocker 1, which prevents malicious ads from loading on websites.
How can a new phone change my life?
“It’s important to imagine what your life will be like with a new phone,” said Mr. Guy of Wire Cutter. If you have a newborn on your way and your phone’s camera takes blurry shots, an upgrade with a better camera could potentially significantly change your phone’s experience.
But if you use most of the phone only for basic tasks like making calls, messaging and browsing the web, a newer, faster one won’t make much difference because phones have been so fast for years.
“Don’t change anything that works just fine because there’s a new, shiny version,” Mr Guy said.