If you routinely upgrade to the newest flagship model each
year, your decision is almost automatic. On average, most folks now replace
their phone every three years, since new features are evolutional rather than
revolutionary. Older users tend to keep their phones longer. A recent survey
showed that 55% of Gen Y users replace their smartphone every two years or
less, but only 38% of Gen X users and 22% of Baby Boomer follow that pattern.
The average smartphone lithium ion battery lasts two to
three years. If your battery will only hold a charge for a few hours, it’s time
to replace the battery – if it can be replaced. User replaceable batteries are
all but extinct. Professional replacement costs range from $45 to $95, but some
replacements are so difficult that no one is willing to make the attempt.
Damaging your phone will often force a replacement. The cost of replacing a cracked screen out of
warranty ranges from $110 to as high as $300; there may be associated hidden
internal damage requiring further repairs and expenses. If you’re brave enough
to consider fixing it yourself, take a look at the IFIXIT website for advice and
instructions. If the repairs would exceed the residual value, a new phone is in
Older devices will eventually be unable to update to the
current operating system software and thus become technologically obsolete.
This usually is the case by or before 5 years from the manufacturing date. If
your phone’s operating system is currently several years out of date, it’s time
to start shopping for a new phone.
Your service plan will be your largest expense. Begin
shopping by selecting a carrier that provides reliable service in your area.
Larger carriers often have excellent coverage and high speed networks, but many
alternative carriers piggyback on larger networks. For instance, Straight Talk
and Total Wireless use the Verizon network, often offering lower rates for the
same service. Carefully estimate your data usage and select the appropriate
data plan; most of us overestimate requirements and overspend.
When it’s time to buy a new phone, a highly rated model can
be far less expensive than you might think. If you’re switching after just a
year or two, you may be able to sell or trade in your current phone. Consider
all brands; Apple and Samsung may have the most recognized names, but they are
not the only companies that make terrific phones. Buying a slightly older model
can save hundreds of dollars and still have more features than you really need;
the latest and greatest phone may feature only minor improvements. Heavy
discounts pop up shortly after the new models are announced as carriers close
out older models. Comparison shop rather than selecting the most convenient
location; they may be selling the same product but have significantly different
If you’re a new or inexperienced smartphone shopper, you can
find some solid, unbiased advice at consumerreports.org, Tomsguide.com,
Lifewire.com or thewirecutter.com (search for smartphones)