If you follow the latest tech news, you can’t escape the excitement and hype about the new smartphones. Fall has become the time each year when the new models are introduced, and this year we’re seeing more new models than ever. Tech reviewers are lusting over the new Pixel 2 phones from Google, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the LG V30, and the iPhone X and 8. And true to form, we’re told to buy now before the supply runs out. To get an iPhone X you needed to be among the first to order beginning at 12:01 a.m. this past Friday.
But before succumbing to the pressure to buy, I suggest you think this through carefully. In spite of feeling the need to upgrade your old phone, there are good reasons why it’s not necessary, or even advisable.
- Functionality is much the same — The advancements made in phones over the past three years have been mostly incremental, and not sufficient to change the phone’s functionality. They run the same apps and work much the same way as your old phone. While they may have faster processors, improved cameras, or sharper screens, the differences are incremental and not huge. Even battery life has improved only marginally. If there’s a feature you really want, such as longer battery life or wireless charging, there’s usually an accessory that can provide it.
- They’re really expensive – These new phones are really expensive. An iPhone X with the least amount of memory and AppleCare+ costs about $1300! The other phones listed above can cost $800 or more. Think about what else that money can buy or what worthwhile charity would appreciate it.
- The new phones are more fragile — The newer phones are generally more fragile as they add edge-to-edge displays, glass backs, and thinner metal frames. Many will shatter with just a mild bump or drop. It’s become almost mandatory to buy insurance for damage that adds another $10 per month (which just gets you a refurbished unit, not a brand new one). With your old phone, you can enjoy it more and worry less. And if you do break it, it’s no big loss.
- It’s not environmentally friendly – Discarding a perfectly good phone to replace it with a new one means you’re wasting resources, which eventually makes an impact on our environment. Sure, you can recycle it, but why not take pride in getting full use from your purchase?
- You’ll experience more problems – You might think a new phone will eliminate problems or annoyances you’re experiencing with your current phone. But, every new model has issues, and being among the first to buy means you’ll experience them before those who wait. You’ll be what the manufacturers call guinea pigs, because they really can’t predict what problems will be found until the phones are in the hands of thousands. We’re already hearing about defective displays on the Pixel 2, and we’ll likely hear about issues with the iPhone X. And a minor problem on a $1000 phone will be more annoying than one on a 3-year-old phone.
- Having the latest is fleeting – There’s something alluring about being first and having the latest phone to use and show off to your friends. But that’s so fleeting because we’ll be hearing about the next generation of phones in just a few months, as our new phone begins to show its age.
- The advantage of deferring – If you’re still tempted to buy, consider waiting a few months until the problems are worked out, the software fixes are made, and the second wave of product reviews are written. You’ll be better informed and likely find special promotional deals after the initial sales subside.
- Easy to fix your current phone — If your old phone has a battery that doesn’t last long or a cracked display, it’s still much cheaper to get the phone fixed. And consider buying a nice new case to hide the scuffs and dents. That may satisfy your need for something new.
In my case, I was tempted by several of the new phones, but couldn’t justify the high costs as long as my iPhone 6 was still working well. In addition, I didn’t want to give up my headphone jack, which is missing from the new iPhones.