Modern technology is advancing at an incredible speed. In the last 20 years, mobile phones have gone from a useful gadget to essential pieces of kit. Whether you are using it for communication, news, games, music, or photography, chances are your smartphone comes everywhere with you.
These devices are becoming parts of our lives more and more to the point where you may even feel lost if you leave it at home! As with any electronic device, phones can become outdated within 6-12 months of the release of newer models.
With this high production of new models and the wide choice available, you may feel increased pressure to upgrade to a new model - especially if you are on a contract and the pushy salesmen start calling!
In this article, we’ll be looking at whether it’s time for you to change phones and what to consider when looking.
Do you really need to upgrade your phone?
The main point to consider is whether or not you really do need a new phone. Even if you have reached the end of a contract or a new model has been released, your current phone may be perfectly adequate for what you need it for.
When considering an upgrade, there are a few areas to think about;
- The age of your current phone.
- What you use your phone for.
- Condition of your phone.
The age of your current phone
The age of your current handset is an important factor when considering an upgrade. The main point to remember here is that as manufacturers release more models, they will continuously upgrade their operating systems (OS) to accompany them.
At a certain point, the OS will overtake the older phone models, meaning they will not be able to be upgraded. Missing out on upgrades will lead to your phone developing software glitches which will not be fixed. An outdated OS also limits the number of apps you will be able to use in the future as developers will be updating them to match the current software version.
As well as OS upgrades, the phone service providers will also upgrade their signal services (i.e. 4G and 5G). Older phones will not have the capability to work with faster signals, although unless you are streaming music or video, this will not affect you hugely.
What you use your phone for
Newer phones may have upgraded features that suit your usage habits, or, these may just be features that you will never use. Make sure to check what the new features are - if you don’t think you’ll use them, sticking with your current phone or buying a new, less recent model will save you some money!
If you are only using your phone for communication (phone, text, and email), then you won’t be worried about having the fastest processor or the latest screen technology. As long as your phone is still receiving those all-important software updates, you don’t need to rush to get a new handset.
For phone photo/videographers, not only do you want your camera to be up to scratch, but you will also need to consider storage space. As camera technology changes, some phones now have two, three, or even four lenses with different functions. These can make a massive difference to your photo and video quality. Storage is another significant factor here. Decide whether you want to use built-in storage rather than a cloud-based solution. If you go with built-in storage, make sure to check the capacity of your prospective phone and compare it to your current model. Check how much storage you currently have/use so you can decide to go for higher capacity or not.
If you are using your phone on-the-go be it for music & video streaming or navigation, you will want to focus on battery life. Batteries tend to improve with each new batch of models for most manufacturers. This means the latest release may not be the only one with an upgraded battery, consider checking the models from 6 months before to check the difference - it may be slim and save your wallet!
Condition of your phone
The condition of your current phone can be a significant deciding factor when debating getting a new one. A cracked screen can be annoying, but if the damage isn’t too bad, you may be able to live with it. As the repair costs may be high, if the screen breaks completely, it may be worth considering an upgrade.
An inevitable part that wears on all phones is the battery, eventually leading to it not lasting the day on a charge (depending on usage) or even having to be always plugged into a power source. Replacing the battery can be a reasonably inexpensive fix and can keep your phone going for longer.
If your camera lens gets cracked or stops working, it may be worth replacing the phone as this is an expensive repair to have carried out!
Upgrading your smartphone: the pros and cons
As you can see, when it comes to upgrading your phone, there are many pros and cons to look at.
- Newer/latest technology.
- Improved screen and camera quality.
- Improved battery life.
- Latest software available for now and the next few years.
- Maybe more economical than fixing a broken older model.
- Expensive to buy a new phone.
- Unnecessary if your current phone is working and updated.
- New features may not be of any benefit.
Should you upgrade your smartphone?
Upgrading your smartphone is not always necessary. Even if you feel pressured by your phone provider at the end of your contract or the release of the newest models, take a step back and consider your options.
Andy Aitken, CEO & Co-Founder of honest mobile, told Age Times: "Buying a new smartphone can be expensive and big networks will try to get you to upgrade every two years. We don't think this is necessary though, particularly if you're not glued to your phone all day.
"Technology does come on leaps and bounds, so if you're still using a phone from four years ago or more you will probably notice the impact of getting a newer handset - the cameras are much better, the battery will last longer and you'll find that all your apps open quicker too.
"A happy compromise - and one that's better for the planet too - is to get a refurbished handset. These are often the latest models but ones that were returned to a manufacturer during the 14-day cooling-off period while others will be second-hand with light signs of use. You can buy these online and some top sellers are BackMarket and Reboxed. They'll tell you if there's any damage and make sure you get a suitable handset whilst saving some money and saving the planet.
"While you're thinking about your phone, make sure you're not paying more than £25 a month for your SIM card - there are much cheaper plans out there than the big four networks offer and it's possible they might be overcharging you."