How Often Do You Upgrade Your Phone?

Ancient Phone

Januarybe this was a “smart” phone in its day?

First off, I’m NOT talking about a landline here.  Just to get that clarification out there, up front :)

In terms of buying a new phone – smartphone at that – there seems to be a culture here in the U.S. where replacing it every 2 years is the norm.  Januarybe not among all people, but people who can feasibly afford a smartphone seem to look to replace it every two years.

Why? Well, there’s the little aspect of a 2 year agreement that many folks seem to have.  I’ve had a few people tell me that as soon as their agreement was up, they immediate sought out a new phone.  That 2 year time marker was the signal to go phone shopping.  Apparently, everybody “must” upgrade phones at that time.  Or so some people say.

I had this conversation with some friends a few months back, and the people are really solid, sensible folks.  They’re good with their money, and don’t overspend much.  Yet, they’re a lot of fun.  That’s a good combination!

Anyway, I was good-naturedly teased a bit for not wanting to upgrade my phone right away.  You see, my 2 years have been up for many months – to the point where soon, it will be 3 years since my last upgrade.  They simply couldn’t understand why I would use such an “outdated” phone when I could instead go pick up a new iPhone.  To them, it was almost incomprehensible that I would be so hesitant to do that, and instead use a phone well over 2 years old.

Here’s the thing: just because a 2-year agreement is up, it doesn’t mean that you need to get a new phone.  Besides, a new phone that’s cutting edge isn’t likely to be free anyway with another agreement.  Additionally, if the phone you have still works well, what are you truly missing? So why spend when you don’t have to do so.

Let’s say you replace phones every 2 years.  This means, through 6 years, you will have used 3 phones before your next upgrade.  If you upgrade every 3 years instead, it will mean 2 phones are used in 6 years before your next upgrade.  You’ll save on the cost of a phone, just by stretching out each purchase by a year.

To me, it’s a case of wants vs. needs.  Yet, for many, any new technology within a product category might be perceived as a “need”.  I think at some point in time it might eventually become a need, but an immediate upgrade is usually a “want”.

Readers, what do you think about phone upgrades? How often do you replace your phone? Do you get very tempted to upgrade as soon as possible, or do you prefer to use your existing phone for as long as feasible?

15 thoughts on “How Often Do You Upgrade Your Phone?

  1. Edward Antrobus

    I personally have only bought a new phone when switching carriers, which I have done twice now since 2004. But my wife has gotten phones a few times that she wound up not liking as much as she thought she would and upgraded as soon as she could get a discounted phone. Then I get her hand-me-downs. :)

  2. [email protected]

    Probably every 2 years not so much to change model (although they will have changed anyway) but that the battery life becomes very short! For some reason phone batteries always go down on me! I think I must be a natural aerial or something like that so the poor phone has to up the micro-watts and that chews the batteries!

    1. Post author

      John – now, that’s actually a reason that makes sense. My battery life is only a small percentage of what it once was. I just deal with it :)

  3. The First Million is the Hardest

    I would routinely go beyond the 2 year period when I was on a contract. Nowadays I’ve switched to a prepaid plan an pay half as much for service as most people do on a contract with a major carrier. When you upgrade every 2 years and sign a new contract you’re essentially renting your phone from the carrier. I wrote a post about it when I switched on why it might be better to break out of this model (shameless plug)

    1. Post author

      Interesting approach! I really haven’t thought of that path, as it just seems so mainstream to get a phone as part of a contract. I’ll have to check out your reasoning…

  4. Pauline

    My phones get lost and stolen so often I don’t think I ever went through the 2 years plans and was faced with a choice to upgrade. Now I upgrade by default to whatever cheap phone there is at the moment. My current phone is a free hand me down… most people I know in a 2 year plan are really excited to change phones once then plan expires.

    1. Post author

      Pauline – yeah, lost and taken away are good reasons to upgrade. That said, I also agree with you that most people are really excited to change phones when the plan is over.

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