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Upgrading Your Smartphone? 5 Questions to Ask Before You Do

Megan Ellis 01-10-2019

With companies vying for consumer interest and a crowded smartphone release cycle, you’ll likely feel the pressure to upgrade to a new smartphone sooner than expected. After all, within six months manufacturers are already promoting the latest and greatest release.


But do you really need to upgrade your device? Here are five questions you should ask yourself before choosing to upgrade to a new smartphone.

1. Does Your Budget Allow for a New Smartphone?

The very first thing you need to consider when it comes to getting a new smartphone is your budget. Premium smartphones are going for higher prices than ever, with more and more new phones exceeding the $1,000 mark.

If you don’t have much disposable income, the last thing you need to do is purchase a device that loses a significant portion of its value as soon as you open the box. If you are buying on contract or credit, this locks you into a monthly payment. Other considerations include interest on credit purchases or potential penalty fees for early contract cancellation.

Even if a shiny new gadget looks tempting, you need to take a realistic look at your own finances first. There are many budget devices on the market that you can choose. But if your current device is a recent flagship, upgrading to a budget device could prove to be a downgrade instead.

2. Has New Smartphone Tech Advanced Enough?

smartphones compared in a line


Release windows for devices are mostly set. This means manufacturers will release the scheduled iteration of their device regardless of whether they’ve made real advancements in their technology. Sometimes you’ll see vast improvements. But often there are only minor tweaks or improvements and a slight update in design.

Regardless of the technological strides made, prices tend to increase based on the market. So you need to decide whether the technical improvements made since your current device was released justify a new replacement. After all, you want to make sure you’re still getting value for your money.

Usually, when it comes to yearly release cycles, the improvements are incremental. For example, there’s not that much difference between a Galaxy S8 and a Galaxy S9. However, the Galaxy S10 is a more significant improvement on the S8’s tech and is way ahead of the Galaxy S7.

When it comes to software improvements, this depends on whether you receive regular software updates on your particular device. OS upgrades can improve your device How to Upgrade Your Android Phone Without Buying a New One Upgrading your Android phone can be expensive, so how can you get the most out of your current device? Read More significantly, reducing the need to update your hardware.


Unfortunately, Android updates are inconsistent across brands so not everyone can rely on these refreshes. If you do receive timely updates, consider when the next major update is scheduled. If it’s in the near future, you may want to hold off on a potential upgrade a little longer.

When it comes to both hardware and software on new devices, make sure that you don’t fall for marketing pitches. Look at the actual improvements and user reviews to see whether the latest phone really makes such great strides.

3. Does Your Smartphone Contract Need Reviewing?

smartphone with sim card

Another consideration to make is whether it’s time for you to update your contract, switch to a new provider, or move to a prepaid plan. With most contracts lasting between 24 and 36 months, a lot could have changed since your last upgrade.


For example, over time data costs tend to decrease. New apps and communication methods also change the ratio of SMS limits, talk minutes, and data limits that you need.

Take a look at your current contract and see whether it’s time to move to a cheaper provider. You could also choose to forgo the upgrade your provider offer at the end of the period and cancel your contract completely.

If your phone is still in great shape and you have Wi-Fi at home and work that you can rely on, a prepaid SIM might suit your needs better.

4. Does Your Smartphone Still Meet Your Daily Needs?

Speaking of needs, you should consider whether your phone meets your daily needs and requirements before you choose to upgrade.


If your phone doesn’t hold enough charge to last more than a few hours, can’t efficiently run the newer apps you need to use, or is stuck on an old OS that has performance and security issues—you should go ahead and consider a new device.

But if your new phone does exactly what you need it to, you might want to delay an upgrade. You don’t need the latest camera technology if you don’t rely on smartphone photography for your work or hobbies. You also don’t need an ultra-high-performance device if all you use your phone for is WhatsApp and Candy Crush.

A flashy new device might be tempting, but assessing wants versus needs will help you decide if an upgrade is really needed.

5. Are There Cheaper Alternatives to Upgrading?

repair smartphone components

Upgrading is not the only solution when your phone is underperforming. For example, more manufacturers are offering battery replacements for smartphones to increase their longevity. Since lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, phones start losing battery capacity and battery efficiency.

Replacing a degraded battery fixes this and can improve the phone’s performance. If your phone’s battery is the main reason you want to upgrade, rather see if your manufacturer warranty provides a battery replacement.

You can solve issues like storage capacity in a cost-efficient way if you have expandable storage. You could also move certain items to cloud storage. Storage problems can slow down your phone’s performance 5 Reasons Your Phone Slows Down Over Time Is your smartphone suddenly slow? We've got good news: you're not going crazy. That loss of device power hits both Android and iOS users. Devices do slow down over time. Here's why. Read More , making the entire device feel outdated. If performance is your main motivator for an upgrade, see if a factory reset and upgrades storage helps.

Meanwhile, take a look at smartphone accessories that may offer the features you’re looking for. These include camera accessories, audio accessories, and more. You’ll be surprised with how much accessories can improve your experience.

When to Upgrade Your Phone

If you’re still weighing up whether it’s time to upgrade your smartphone, you could look for signs that your phone is no longer running properly.

Check out our guide on warning signs that you need a new Android phone 7 Warning Signs It's Time to Upgrade Your Android Phone Find that your Android phone slows down all the time and can't run new apps? It might be time to replace your phone. Read More to see if your device is showing any of these problems.

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  1. Davin Peterson
    October 1, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    You don't need to spend $500-$1000 on a new smartphone, when one under $200 will meet your needs. Not everyone needs all the bells and whistles. There are many sub $200 Android phones available.

    One problem with Android is that not all phones will receive the newest version. It is up to the manufacturer to decide which models to upgrade. Most phones only get 1 to 2 years of updates. After they they are stuck on an old version of Android forever

    • Me
      December 18, 2019 at 9:05 pm

      Can always load a stock version on. Easy enough to do, so I'm told. Haven't actually needed to go down that route myself. Samsung S5 still going strong. Does all I need and want it to do.