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Why You Don’t Really Need a New Smartphone Every Year

Hugh Grant

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new smartphone

About a decade ago, new smartphones were only released periodically by manufacturers. Today, that’s changed. Phone companies like Apple and Samsung routinely release new phones on a yearly basis, each time offering new features like a higher resolution camera, multiple lenses, or more storage space. For instance, the new Samsung Galaxy S24 comes with some pretty cool AI features, but do you really need it right now?

On the positive side, this particular release does offer something new and truly innovative with the AI features, so this particular model might be an exception. Plus, you can get a rugged, durable Unicorn Beetle PRO case to protect your investment for years to come. 

However, if you’re just thinking about upgrading to a newer version of the same phone you already own just to get more storage space or a better camera lens, here are some points to consider first.

  1. The cost of the phone you want will decrease with time

With each new smartphone release, regardless of the company, there are certain features that feel like a must-have. It’s tempting to rush in and buy the phone you want when it’s new, but you’ll pay far more this way. It’s much cheaper to wait a little while for the price to come down and buy it the next year when everyone else is scrambling to get that year’s model.

Truth be told, nobody is going to notice that your photos were taken with a camera that has a few more megapixels, and if you’re uploading them to the internet on social media, like Facebook and Instagram, those photos are being downscaled anyway, which lowers the resolution.

Some smartphones do tend to hold their value over time, but they still end up cheaper after their initial release. If funding your new phone is an issue and you need to save some cash, consider waiting at least a year to get your new device.

  1. You’re already paying too much

When you consider your current smartphone costs, you’re probably already paying too much just to have your phone. For example, you might still be on a payment plan to pay off your device, you’ve got your monthly phone bill to cover, and then you have to pay for phone insurance. If you spring for a new phone every year, you’ll either be paying full price or getting a discount for a trade-in or upgrade on your plan. However, trade-in and upgrade discounts are deceptive because you might get a few hundred dollars off, but you’ll still be paying $500, $700, or more.

When smartphones first became popular, they had a much lower price point for new phones and upgrades. They’ve been slowly raising the prices and decreasing the discounts for upgrades and trade-ins to ensure that people pay several hundred dollars no matter what.

When you calculate it out monthly, it doesn’t make sense. Say your phone costs $1,000 total. That’s $83 per month on top of your monthly bill, which has been reported to be an average of $144 per month. Add in your phone insurance at around $15 per month, and you’re essentially paying $242 per month just to use your smartphone. That might seem normal if you grew up with this technology, but it’s a big expense for something considered a luxury item.

  1. There’s always a better smartphone

Nearly 12% of people surveyed reported upgrading their phones every year, while just under 55.5% upgrade every 2 to 3 years. Many people get upgrades because they want the latest and greatest technology. Only a handful upgrade because of slow performance or incompatibility. It takes around 6 years for smartphones to start slowing down and lose compatibility with upgrades.

If you’re trying to stay on top of the latest trends and always get the best technology, you’re going to fall short. There will always be a better phone than the one you buy, and every year, manufacturers will release new models with a trickle of new features and specs.  

You probably don’t need a new phone every year

Although it seems like you’re getting good deals on the phones you buy, you’re actually spending more money than if you kept the same phone for a few years.

Most people don’t need to buy a new smartphone on a yearly basis. That’s a frequent purchase for a high-ticket item, even at a discount. The only time it makes sense to get a new device so often is if you have the money to burn.

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