How Often Should You Upgrade Your Smartphone?

Nowadays, the smartphone serves so many functions for both personal and business needs that it’s hard not to become dependent on one to navigate through life. Sometimes this dependence becomes an issue, though, as technology advances so quickly that it can be hard to keep up with new systems and devices. When your smartphone becomes antiquated, you’ll find applications crashing more often, software updates won’t be compatible with your system, and you may not even be able to download new applications. So the question is, how often do you need to upgrade your smartphone?

Even though millions of Americans stormed Apple retail outlets September 2014 to purchase the newly released iPhone 6, statistics reported by Yahoo!’s Tech Columnist Rob Pegoraro show that the majority of Americans don’t actually purchase a new phone all that often – they’re actually buying phones less frequently than in previous years. In 2007, the average upgrade cycle for every type of phone – including simpler models than smartphones – was about every 19 months, whereas 2013’s average upgrade occurred about every 23 months.

Four Generations of iPhone: Original + 3G + 4 + 5

Four Generations of iPhone: Original + 3G + 4 + 5

Smartphones are pricey, and it can become overwhelming when you finally upgrade your phone just to learn another version will be released a few months later.  If you pride yourself on having the newest technology in your possession, carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer frequent phone upgrade plans that allow you to purchase a new phone for less money, at regular intervals. To help keep you current and ease the financial burden, they also have monthly payment plans that allow you to pay off the cost of a new phone over time, so that you don’t have to shell out $600 all at once. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.

Distinguishing Between Your Smartphone Wants & Needs

It’s important to assess what you, as an individual, really need in a smartphone before investing in an upgrade. Even though technology seems to be improving at rapid speed, when you compare one smartphone with the model just before it, not too much typically improves. Generally, tweaking occurs in aesthetics – font sizes and styles might change, along with the overall size, color, and features of the phone. The quality of pictures and security features also tend to get bumped up a notch.

If you’re satisfied with your current phone, these aren’t really sufficient reasons to lay down hundreds of dollars on a new model. If you’re just looking for a phone you can use for jotting down notes, taking pictures, making phone calls and texting, surfing the Internet, and playing a few games, there’s no need to upgrade your smartphone for years.

At a certain point, though, the world will outgrow your device, and your smartphone will no longer be so “smart.” You won’t be able to perform software updates on it or download new applications. And, if you’re looking to buy accessories for them, such as fitness armbands or chargers, they might be harder to come by. Especially if you use your phone for business, as well as for personal reasons, it might behoove you to upgrade more often so that you will always be up to date with your operating system and to ensure everything is always running smoothly.

It’s always nice to have the newest smartphone and latest technology in the palm of your hand, but for a device so expensive, you might want to upgrade at the pace of the average American: every 2 years.  When you do upgrade your smartphone, it’s important to recycle your old device.

Worldwide, hundreds of millions of outdated smartphones are sent to landfills where their toxic metals leach into the soil and water, and hundreds of pounds of precious metals used in those smartphones are wasted. In fact, the EPA estimates that for every million smartphone devices that are committed to landfills, “35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.” To properly recycle your old smartphones, drop them off at EcoCycle‘s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) facility.

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