When Should You Change Your Phone?
July 5, 2021 Andrew Cheng

The smartphone industry moves at a very rapid pace. That new, shiny phone you just got, for example, will be “replaced” with a newer, more feature-packed device just one year after its initial launch. With that in mind, there’s a good chance the desire to upgrade your phone is an annual affair.

While it’s feasible for some folks to upgrade their smartphones every year, it’s not always practical. If you’re contemplating to change your phone, here are a number of things to consider:

It’s Beginning to Show Its Age

We’ve all been there: phones that could barely last through a whole day of use with a battery that had gone through many cycles of charging and discharging; stuttering and lagging that seem to get worse every day; or just a camera that isn’t up to snuff anymore.

While some of these issues can be rectified easily – such as getting the battery replaced – there comes a time where it’s just more practical to change to an entirely different phone. The question is, how long should you use a phone before it’s time for a replacement?

Personally, I think the best time to upgrade is after three years of use. It’s a good rule of thumb: there should really be no major issues at all in the first two years of use, especially if it’s a high-end flagship phone.

In my experience, it’s only in the third year of ownership where a phone will start slowing down and start showing signs of major battery degradation.

To put this into context, I still swap back to the 2019 Samsung Galaxy S10+ in between phones I’m reviewing. Sure, it doesn’t feel quite as speedy or as cutting-edge as a 2021 flagship phone, but it’s still fast enough for regular use. Of course, its camera performance is still very good too.

Anyway, let’s move on to the next point, which happens more frequently than one might think.

The Screen Is Cracked

Chances are, you’ve dropped your phone (hard) once or twice, and if you’re unlucky enough, the screen cracked from the impact. Even if the phone still works with a cracked screen, you should really consider getting the screen replaced or getting a new phone.

Obviously, it’s not safe to use a phone with a cracked glass screen; you wouldn’t want to cut yourself. This is why a screen protector – especially a tempered glass one – is worth investing in. It’s also wise to use a casing with a “raised lip” over the screen that prevents it from making contact with the floor in the event of a fall.

Granted, it’s entirely possible that even with a casing and screen protector installed, the display can still break. In this case, get the screen replaced if it’s still a relatively new phone, but keep the next point in mind first.

It Costs Too Much to Repair

When it actually costs more to fix a phone than to outright buy a new one, it makes more financial sense to go with the latter option. However, there are a number of factors to consider. If it costs, say, RM1,000 to replace the screen of a flagship smartphone, it may be worth it to fix it up than to buy a RM1,000 mid-range device.

That being said, it’s a different scenario entirely if we’re talking about repairing a mid-range smartphone for the same amount of money, especially if a brand new unit doesn’t cost that much more.

Limited Software Support

This relates back to our first point, though it differs from one brand to another. While some phone makers promise up to four years of security updates – such as Samsung – a number of other manufacturers don’t provide the same level of support; worse if they promise nothing at all.

There’s no denying the importance of software support over the years of ownership. It’s not just about not getting the latest features; security updates are vital to ensure that your phone is protected from malicious software. This is why it’s also important to consider how well a phone maker handles software support when deciding to buy a certain phone.

In this regard, Apple’s commitment to providing software updates to even its six-year-old phone is worth commending – how many other phone makers do the same thing?

Of course, at the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you whether or not it’s time to change to a new phone; this article is only meant to be a guide. After all, everyone has their own preferences – there is no one rule that applies to everyone.