How Do I Know it’s Time to Buy a New Phone?


A new smartphone is a pretty big investment. With flagship models going for close to a thousand pounds these days, it can be tough to justify getting a new device every couple of years. If you're money conscious, you might be holding on to an older phone, which is pretty smart. However, there are sometimes when getting a new mobile is just the right thing to do. Think about how much of your life, and maybe even your job, depends on having a reliable mobile and being in constant contact, and justifying that new phone price might get a little easier. But just how do you know that it's really time to go for a new phone? Read on to find out…

When You're Not Being Updated…

By far the biggest telltale sign that it's time to get a new handset is if your old phone is no longer receiving operating system updates. Operating systems tend to receive updates at least every couple of months. That doesn't mean that you get a whole new OS version (you're not necessarily jumping from Android Marshmallow to Android Nougat, for example). What you're getting is what we call “patches.” These patch updates fix security holes and known problems with the OS that you're running. Companies tend to support older operating systems for a while. So even if you're running, say, Android Lollipop you'll still get patches for that as long as Android decides to support it.

The problem comes when you no longer receive updates. After a while, companies stop supporting older OS versions. Your phone might be capable of moving up to the next OS version (from Lollipop to Marshmallow, for example), but it might not. Newer OS versions tend to need faster processors and more memory space. Once your phone no longer gets OS updates, you need to consider getting a new handset. A lack of updates means potential security problems, potential slowing, lagging or freezing, and is a sure sign that app makers are also no longer going to support your older OS (so no more Candy Crush updates, for example). This is pretty serious, since you don't want your phone compromised by identity thieves, and you want a reliable handset, so get shopping!

When You've Got a Cracked Screen…

Touch screens are the most fragile part of a smartphone, and once they're cracked (maybe because of a fall, or because you dropped it), it's time to consider a new mobile. A cracked screen will eventually shatter (though you can try putting a screen protector on to stop this in the short term) and will become less touch sensitive. Which means, in the long run, your phone screen is going to stop working.

There are some exceptions here. Top end newer models like Samsung Galaxys and iPhones can usually have screens replaced easily and fairly cheaply (though you'll probably need a professional to do it). Less popular or older models generally can't be fixed though, since the spare parts are no longer manufactured. So a cracked screen is a pretty good sign that it's time to shop.

When There are Charging Problems…

Battery life is a big deal for smartphones. And whilst batteries are getting bigger and stronger, the bad news is that over time the battery on your phone will get less efficient. This is simply a result of repeated charging, and there's nothing much that can be done to prevent it. Your phone will be able to hold less power, and the battery will drain faster until eventually, the battery can't hold a charge at all. There's also the issue of charger ports, which over time become less effective. Ports for chargers break easily too, since the thin metal strip that allows a connection is very delicate.

In some old phone models, you can replace the battery quite easily, though this does depend on the availability of spare batteries (certainly never put a non-manufacturer brand battery into your phone, this is a huge fire risk). Newer phones tend to have non-replaceable batteries, and these will need to go to a professional to be fixed. Depending on price and availability of spare parts, you'll probably want to think about just getting a new mobile once you start to experience battery or charging port issues.

When Your Phone Contract Needs Renewing…

This might be a surprising addition to the list, after all, we've been talking about physical faults with your old phone for the most part, but it's important to consider buying a new phone when your mobile contract comes up for renewal. Signing that new contract means the opportunity to get a new incentive phone, and that's not to be sniffed at.

It used to be that experts recommended NOT buying incentive phones (phones that come with a contract and that you pay for monthly as opposed to paying full price up front). This is because incentive phones used to work out more expensive than just buying a SIM-free handset with a separate pay monthly sim deal (the total of those monthly instalments was more than the actual price of the phone). However, this is no longer true as a general rule. You can usually save yourself at least a few pounds by going with an incentive phone, and sometimes even more. And you get the obvious benefit of not needing to find hundreds of pounds in cash right now. You don't HAVE to get a phone when you renew your contract, but if you think you're going to need a new model in the near future it's definitely worth thinking about doing so. Keep in mind that some operators limit getting an incentive phone (or save the best deals) for contract signers, so you might lose your chance if you wait.

There's nothing wrong with having an older mobile, as long as it still serves your needs. But there does come a time when you'll want to think about getting a new smartphone. If you're getting performance issues, if you don't get updates, or if you're renewing your contract, a new phone might not be a bad idea.

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