When is it time to get a new phone?

By Kim Wong-Shing
Apr 28, 2020
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Remember when there was only one basic type of cell phone that you could hang onto for years with no problem? Yeah, those days are long gone. In today’s world of iPhones and Androids, it can be confusing to figure out whether you really need to upgrade to the latest model or not. Brand new smartphones cost as much (or more) as a computer these days, so this is no light decision.

If your phone still works as well as it did when you bought it, you can likely wait to purchase a new one, unless you’re just itching to upgrade. But if your phone is having issues due to its age, you may have to switch to a new one — or you may be able to update the operating system (OS) of your existing phone to keep it functional for longer.

Here are all the signs that it may be time to get a new phone, and how to get away with waiting a little longer.

1. Your phone is slowing down.

Older smartphones often become slower, so it takes longer to load apps or send messages. Sometimes, the screen simply freezes altogether or apps crash and have to be reopened. This can become a huge pain, and it’s one of the main signs that your phone is wearing out. Phones sometimes slow down over time because the operating systems continue to update, and the older hardware can’t handle these newer programs.

Other factors can also affect the speed of your phone. If you want to avoid buying a new one, the below steps may help make it a bit faster.

2. You’re running out of storage.

The longer you keep a phone, the more likely it is to be packed full of apps, photos, videos, text messages and more. All of these items use up your phone’s processing resources and slow it down. Try deleting any apps you’re not using, old photos, videos and screenshots you don’t need anymore, and any other unnecessary items. Remember that you can transfer photos to a computer, external hard drive or cloud storage to make even more extra room.

In addition to deleting apps, it’s important not to keep a ton of apps running at the same time. Explore your phone’s settings to make sure that apps aren’t running in the background when you’re not using them.

3. Your phone is losing battery life.

Low battery life can also affect the speed of your phone. And if your phone tends to die quickly in general, it’s another sign that your phone is aging. Thankfully, if the battery is the main issue, then you don’t necessarily need to get a whole new phone — your phone’s battery can easily be replaced. The price of a new battery will depend on the phone model, but it’s often very affordable (especially compared to a new phone). You can check your phone’s battery health in the settings. If you replace it, be sure to keep the new battery healthy by charging it regularly rather than letting it die.

You may also consider purchasing a battery case for your phone, which will provide your smartphone with an extra battery to extend your use each day.

If none of these steps make your phone any faster, then it’s probably time to look for a replacement.

4. You can’t access new apps or OS updates.

As your phone becomes more and more outdated, you may find that you’re not able to upgrade to the latest version of your favorite apps anymore. Eventually, you may be unable to access certain apps at all as the older versions of them become unavailable. Also, you might be unable to download the most recent operating system.

This is one key sign that it’s time to upgrade to a newer phone, as this issue will only continue to worsen over time.

5. Your phone has physical signs of wear and tear.

Is your phone screen glitchy or cracked? Are there buttons missing? If you’ve dropped your phone one too many times over the years, it may have all of these issues and more. Older phones can also overheat more easily or have headphone jack issues. Some of these issues are fixable, but the repairs can be expensive. It may be a good idea to put that money toward a new phone instead.

6. You want to try new features.

New smartphones typically introduce a few exciting features that everybody wants to try, whether it’s a higher-quality camera or underwater capability. You can’t just download these features onto an old phone — you need new hardware for them to work. So if you hear of any features that are appealing and you want to get in on the action, an upgrade could definitely be worthwhile.

Remember, if you do have to get a new phone and you’re worried about budget, you don’t necessarily have to get the newest one out there. You just need one that’s new enough to run the latest OS and apps easily, store your items and stay on all day long.