How do you decide when to upgrade your smartphone?

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is one of the latest phones tempting people to upgrade.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is one of the latest phones tempting people to upgrade.

With Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 hitting the shelves and Apple's iPhone 8 not far behind, how will you decide when it's time to give your current phone the flick?

Most people replace their smartphones every three years, according to, but of course that's only an average figure.

Some of us always upgrade our phone at the end of our 12 or 24-month contract – perhaps feeling like we're getting a "free" phone even though the cost is built into the contract compared to a SIM-only plan.

At the other end of the spectrum, some people would hang on to their phones for much longer than three years. They'll stick with a handset until the screen breaks, the battery dies or it becomes painfully sluggish when performing simple day to day tasks – just like some people drive their old car into the ground before replacing it.

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I'd say there's a rough correlation between a handset's price tag and how often you replace it. If you feel the need to drop more than $1000 on this year's flagship Apple or Android smartphone then you'll probably be prepared to do so again in a year or two, even if the old handset is still meeting your needs, to ensure you've always got the latest and greatest.

You might even sell your old handset to offset the cost of the upgrade.

On the other hand if you're satisfied with a sub-$500 Android handset then you're probably not going to feel the need to upgrade just because a newer model comes along with a few extra bells and whistles.

Finder's figures don't break down the upgrade stats by price tag, but the age demographics are still telling.

It seems that 55 per cent of Gen Y smartphone owners replace their handset every two years or less, dropping to 38 per cent for Gen X and 22 per cent for Baby Boomers. It's not unreasonable to assume that Gen Y smartphone owners tend to favour more expensive handsets than Baby Boomers.

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Your priorities also change over time. As a Gen Xer who sits in the middle, over the years I've found myself replacing my phone a bit less often and my car more often.

Another factor is that a two year-old smartphone isn't as terrible as it once was. By the time the iPhone 4 hit the shelves, the iPhone 3 was struggling to keep up. That won't be the case with the iPhone 7 when the iPhone 8 arrives, even if the 7 groans a little under the first few releases of iOS11 – perhaps a deliberate ploy by Apple to encourage you to upgrade.

We went through the same thing with desktop computers and later notebooks. There was a time when a two year-old PC was painfully slow but that's no longer the case so we replace them less often.

Is the smartphone in your pocket looking a little long in the tooth? How will you decide when to retire it?

 - Sydney Morning Herald


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