Is it necessary to upgrade your smartphone year-over-year?

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The smartphone has become the single most used tool for millions of people across the globe. This little pocket computer has given a vast swath of people instant access to anything and everything they could ever want or ever need. And all of it is just a few taps away.

Not so long ago…

It wasn’t that long ago when pocket PCs, like those made by BlackBerry and Palm, were exclusive to business users. These early smart devices were bulky and mostly aimed at business productivity and communication. It wasn’t until Apple’s iPhone and Google’s G1 Android phone that the potential for mass-market use was understood.

Those very early years in 2007 and 2008 were the first steps into what has become a necessity for most and an unhealthy obsession for many. Most people are often glued to their smartphones, and much of this time is spent consuming entertainment and life-sapping social media. I’d be so bold as to say that most of us wouldn’t know what to do if we had to go without a smartphone for 24-hours.

Smartphone marketing is effective

This obsession is what is feeding our desire to upgrade our smartphones every year. Combine the latter with the marketing skills of major smartphone brands enticing us with the big, new, shiny thing, and we’re hooked like the mindless fish we refuse to believe we are. And don’t think for a moment that the “leaks” we all see aren’t part of that marketing effort. Smartphone makers know they have to keep the luster on the product and what better way than to leak it ahead of launch.

You still have a great phone

Consider the iPhone XS Max you have in your hand now. It likely has 256GB storage capacity, 4GB of RAM and is sporting Apple’s A12 Bionic chipset with Apple’s Neural Engine. That sort of performance will last you at least 3-years if not longer. The Galaxy Note9 has 256GB storage 8GB of RAM and is powered by the Snapdragon 845. These are also performance specs that will last you more than a few years.

Both the iPhone XS Max and the Galaxy Note9 have excellent cameras on the front and rear that are going to give you amazing photos. The new iPhone and the new Galaxy Note10 have slightly improved cameras with the performance gains being nominal at best.

smartphone upgrade
The Galaxy Note10 is very nice looking, but if you’re rocking a Note9, you’re probably okay for another year or two.

We all have our reasons

So are these phones really worth a thousand dollar upgrade? That depends on why you’re seeking to upgrade in the first place. Most people want to believe the marketing spin that tells them life will be faster, better, and more fun if they have this new shiny thing. But once they get it, they find it’s not that much different from the old shiny thing.

I make a living from reviewing new shiny things, so I’m always upgrading my smartphone year-over-year. What I’ve learned over these past 6-years of doing this is that the new shiny thing is certainly nice, and there are some incremental improvements each year, but there is usually not enough improvement to consider upgrading for performance or usability reasons. That is, of course, if you’re not already using a smartphone that’s 3 or more years old.

Most of us who have a smartphone that is less than 3-years old don’t really need to upgrade our smartphones.

Consider waiting for a year or two longer

The majority of users upgrade their smartphones because they’re either bored with their current smartphone or they want to belong to the crowd that has the new shiny thing, this applies to both iOS and Android users. New shiny things are cool, and if you have the money to burn then, by all means, upgrade each year. But if you’re strapped for cash, this year’s iPhone and Galaxy Note aren’t that much better than last year’s. Hold out for another year or two when your upgrade will actually feel like an upgrade. There’s no shame in using last year’s smartphone.

Do you upgrade your smartphone every year? If so, why? If not, why do you wait? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

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