Weekend Open Forum: How often do you upgrade your smartphone?

By on July 19, 2013, 6:30 PM
wof, smartphone, weekend open forum

This week the US’ three largest wireless carriers unveiled plans aimed at people who want to upgrade their smartphones more frequently than the usual two-year period attached to device subsidies. It’s all a bit complicated and there’s a lot of math involved, but no matter how you look at it the savings are marginal or inexistent, as you’re still paying nearly full price and have to trade-in the device when upgrading. With AT&T or Verizon you're also paying inflated service plans that fail to reflect the savings from dropping monthly subsidies.

For very frequent upgraders it might make sense, though. With that in mind today we want to know: how often do you upgrade your smartphone for the latest and greatest? Do you prefer to swallow the upfront cost of the phone for an unlocked device or commit to lengthy contracts for a chance at a more affordable flagship handset?




User Comments: 42

Got something to say? Post a comment
Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

Most likely - never. Do not have one now. Us older folks may find it a lot easier to have tablet size or larger for that kind of stuff. I may breakdown and get a cell phone someday, but I'll probably just get by on VoIP and the laptop.

If I were in the market, I might want to check the prices on the smartphones that others are trading in - and buy it once.

Guest said:

I had been searching for my dream phone over the last couple years...

In this order:

1) 3gs, first smart phone, had no idea they were this incredible and what they were capable of

2) iphone 4, needed front facing camera.

3) lg p500?, someone said Android is way better, tried it, puked, returned to iphone 4

4) Galaxy s2x, someone said Android was "fixed", tried it, semi-puked, returned to iphone 4

5) HTC 8X, freind needed cash, tried it, nice, but no apps that I needed daily, return to iphone 4

6) 3gs, lost iphone 4, went back to 3gs, still an incredible phone I think.

7) Nexus 7, traded a pc for it, expected to hate it, loved 4.2.2 (not phone but see next 2 points)

8) Note 2, got cheap, expected to love it, hated it, not pure google and not 4.2.2, back to 3gs

9) Nexus 4 since supposed to be like nexus 7, it is! dream phone found.

This is all in the last 2 years.

Dyson Parkes Dyson Parkes said:

Age 14:

First had a Samsung Fantasy - very useable phone, but due to a network change made by Telecom NZ I had to get a replacement.

Age 16:

Went to a cheap and nasty ZTE R100 (made specifically for Telecom). Used it for a fair while because it 'simply did it's job', but after a while I got sick of the lack of functionality and the really noisy buttons.

Age 17 1/2:

Went to a Blackberry Bold 9000 for a while, was pretty happy with that but NZ just doesn't support all the 'special' features that RIM build in.

Age 18:

Shifted to a Nokia N8, and loved it. FM transmitter built in? Brilliant! My absolute favorite feature in a phone so far. Unfortunately, support for Symbian ended and apps for things like TeamViewer and RDP just don't exist for it, so a shift was required for work following a role change.

Age 19 1/2:

I am now running a Samsung Galaxy S4, and while I am finding it to be a very good phone, I miss the transmitter and bulletproofing of my Nokia.

nakamichi217 nakamichi217 said:

Smartphones are a great way to interact and stay connected on the go. However, when it comes to upgrading these devices, it is really quite simple. I have a high end smartphone with 1.7GHZ quad core processor with 2 GB of RAM. I'm using a Sharp Aquios phone SHL22 with a 4.9 inch screen. I plan on keeping the device for two years. After that I will sell my phone to a resale shop. I should get about $200 back. I can use that for the next phone I get. Keep this in mind smartphones are in a race to catch up with the performance of the standard laptop PC. This process will take about ten years to complete. Once the process is completed the sale of these devices will start to drop dramatically. People will eventually upgrade these devices every five years by the end of the next decade. But for now, if you have a high-end hand set it is better to upgrade every two years and not waste money. For people who have low end smartphones, they usually are not tech enthusiasts and don't care too much about performance and are usually light users. Frequent upgrades only apply to tech savvy people and people who can afford to do so. Bu t then again the average person does not know how to maintain their device properly. I look at a smartphone as a handheld computer with a touchscreen. The word "smartphone" is just a BS word that means nothing to me. I treat it the same as my regular home PC. The maintenance of the device is very important to keep it functioning in perfect condition for as long as possible. This is the key to having what you want and keeping it without worrying whether the device will become less stable. I treat all my electronics like they are made out of gold, because they mean that much to me. When you do this why do you need to upgrade them so frequently?

1 person liked this | Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

Never owned a smart phone or a cell phone

windmill007 said:

2 years is about right. I resell my iPhone back for what I paid for it.

howzz1854 said:

4 years

let me just reiterate. I use it until the battery is dead dead, pop it open, and replace it with another battery myself until the 2nd battery is dead, or until the 3g modem is dead, or the wifi nic is dead. basically until the wheels fall off. that iphone 3g lasted me over 4 years, if it wasn't the fact the wifi module died, I would've popped that shit open again and replace it with my 3rd battery.

coppersloane coppersloane said:

I had been searching for my dream phone over the last couple years...

In this order:

1) 3gs, first smart phone, had no idea they were this incredible and what they were capable of

2) iphone 4, needed front facing camera.

3) lg p500?, someone said Android is way better, tried it, puked, returned to iphone 4

4) Galaxy s2x, someone said Android was "fixed", tried it, semi-puked, returned to iphone 4

5) HTC 8X, freind needed cash, tried it, nice, but no apps that I needed daily, return to iphone 4

6) 3gs, lost iphone 4, went back to 3gs, still an incredible phone I think.

7) Nexus 7, traded a pc for it, expected to hate it, loved 4.2.2 (not phone but see next 2 points)

8) Note 2, got cheap, expected to love it, hated it, not pure google and not 4.2.2, back to 3gs

9) Nexus 4 since supposed to be like nexus 7, it is! dream phone found.

This is all in the last 2 years.

How much did this searching cost you in total?

1 person liked this | coppersloane coppersloane said:

I hate the smartphone industry with a passion.

I remember a year ago, I went to our biggest mall in the area in search of a new case for my Nexus S. Whenever I'd ask a clerk if they had any cases, I'd tell them the model of my phone and they'd look at me like I was stuck in the past. AT THE TIME IT WAS ONLY A YEAR OLD!!! The goddamn phone was released in April of 2011! What kind of ***** upgrades in less than a year?

I still have the damn thing, too. It works fine. If it gets bogged down with files stored on it, it runs slowly, but that's just incentive for me to be diligent about keeping it clean. It's been 2 years and 3 months now I've had this phone and people think I'm crazy. The only thing that tempts me to upgrade is to go Windows across all platforms, since I have Windows 8 on my desktop and Surface. I've been eyeing a Nokia Lumia, but I'm not going to break my wallet to get it.

Railman said:

Still on my first smartphone HTC Sensation XL. I have no plans to replace it in the near future. I find it does all I need. Use it for Internet (this site for example). It has FM radio and I can get the BBC digital radio via internet. Take photos when I don't have a camera on me. Does HD video. Occasionally listen to music. Play games etc. Can also maintain simple spreadsheets. Finally it can be used as a phone.

My daughter is asking if she can upgrade from iPhone 3G. This may be done when my contract comes to an end.

1 person liked this | Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

When it breaks and I can no longer get parts for it.

Guest said:

@coppersloane

1) 3gs: Bought used for $150

2) iPhone 4: bought used for $200, sold 3gs for $150

3) LG P500?: bought super sale for $75, immdeiatly sold for $75

4) S2X: super cleanarence $150, sold for $150

5) HTC 8X: extreme deal from girl :$100 sold for $375

6) 3gs (again): $80 used.

7) Nexus 7: $50 (what I paid for the PC)

8) Note 2: used for $300, sold for $450

9) Nexus 4: used for $200... keeping :)

Over all, I have only basically put in $145 into finding (and owning) my dream phone :)

TechGamer TechGamer said:

What smartphone I still have the ones which can break a brick never bothered with cell phones haha

RzmmDX said:

When Droid 5 comes out.

But it took me 2 years to upgrade from Droid to Droid 4.

Scshadow said:

My first smartphone is the HTC Inspire. I've been contemplating upgrading ever since the 2 year mark. half a year later, my trigger finger just isn't itching and I'm likely to use this phone until it stops working. I'm using prepaid so there isn't any subsidizing contract scams to make me feel forced to upgrade.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I upgrade when there's a substantial upgrade available, especially for the camera and network download speed.

I have a Nokia N8 3.5G not-so-smartphone but the camera is fantastic (still better than the latest iPhone) so I'm still waiting for something the same size (must be discreetly pocketable so no Samsung S4), with a better camera and 4G.

I've seen images out of Galaxy S4 and they seem on par with my Nokia so I guess I have to wait for that camera module to appear in a smaller body.

FLWrd said:

I bought my Samsung C140 probably 6 or 7 years ago, because it was the cheapest unlocked phone I could find, and I still use it. I've never had the need of checking email or browsing the web while commuting, only to occasionally call someone. Count me as a dinosaur.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I've only ever had 1 smartphone. I don't use contracts so I only upgrade when it's necessary which is if I loose or break the phone. At the end of the day all smartphones do the same thing,.. Right?

Nobina Nobina said:

I have original HTC Desire (no contract) and there is no reason to upgrade cause the phone does everything that it needs to, plus I tweak every phone I have (Install faster ROM, overclock a bit, flash v6 and other scripts) so it's fast and opening everything in an instant. High end smartphones are simply an overkill cause you can to same stuff at same speed with mid-range sphones, especially if you tweak them.

Guest said:

On both my Symbian phones, Nokia 5800 and N8, I am using RDP for at last 3 years! It is SymRDP and TRDP respectively . Software for Symbian still exist, just some developers are stopping to sell retail versions for their latest applications. Only corporate versions are getting regular upgrades.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I upgrade frequently when I'm not happy about the phone I have, or miss some feature; but I never upgrade if I will loose something I really use.

I have a Nokia N82 which I've had since July '08

Now I also have a HTC One S company phone and I kinda like it, except the keyboard is too small, I need a slightly bigger phone. And it's soooo riddled which useless software that I don't need, uninstalling all crap would take me an eternity!

What I want now is a phone with dual SIM slots so I can keep both my private & company number in the same phone, that phone will also need to have a good camera.

It will be whichever phone arrives in Europe with this functionality, the HTC One already exists in China with this configuration, but I would prefer not to import it.

I think I would love the new Nokia Lumia 1020 but unless it comes out in a dual SIM version it's ruled out...

1 person liked this | Alpha Gamer Alpha Gamer said:

To be honest, I don't even know what a smart phone is. All the phones I've had in the past 9 years were given to me, because someone else upgraded theirs and didn't know what to do with the old one.

psycros psycros said:

When a significantly improved version of what I'm already using comes out. Last time around it was nearly two years. This time it may be never since I'm currently using a Bold 9900 and BB Inc seems determined to commit suicide. I'll probably end up getting another OS7 phone off Ebay unless BB wises up and restores the trackpad, improves (or largely eliminates) the gestures in OS 10, etc.

Railman said:

Reply to Alpha Gamer

One indicator to show if you have a smart phone is how long the battery lasts. If the battery does not need charging for five days it is not likely to be a smart phone

1 person liked this | mrtraver said:

I can't justify the cost of a data plan that costs as much as my home internet, so will keep using my old Samsung Rant "texting phone" as long as it works. Had it over four years now!!

Railman said:

I don't have an expensive data plan. In fact I tend to use my home WiFi for connecting to internet.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Every year or so. I buy my smartphones used off kijiji.

baN893 baN893 said:

Bought a iPhone 3G back in the day, and lasted me until I bought a Sony Xperia Tipo Dual this summer.

So a new smart phone about every 6 years roughly. Don't expect my Sony to last that long though.

Alpha Gamer Alpha Gamer said:

Reply to Alpha Gamer

One indicator to show if you have a smart phone is how long the battery lasts. If the battery does not need charging for five days it is not likely to be a smart phone

I usually charge it once a week, this is the one I've been using for the last year. Considering it was free, it's the best phone I could ever have (along with all the others I've been given in the last decade) .

JC713 JC713 said:

I just got my first smartphone in September. I am not sure if I will upgrade in 2 years, but I probably will.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

Every 18 months even though AT&T and Verizon recently moved eligibility out 2 years. Still using a Note 1 waiting for the Note 3 in September and will pay what it takes to get one.

t3chn0vamp said:

Usually in one year but now that I got Nexus 4, I guess I am good for next 2 years.

Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

I usually upgrade every 1-2 years. But, it all depends on the particular device. Right now I have a Galaxy Note II. The phone is very capable and may last me longer than the norm 1-2 years.

stateofjermaine stateofjermaine said:

Wow, I'm surprised at how few TS readers seem to be enthusiastic about mobile devices. I love trying out new devices of all kinds, and I normally use my wife's or daughter's upgrade when it rolls around, since they have found a home with Apple devices. This puts me at roughly once every 12 months, I suppose. In rare cases, sooner. But I'm always reading and learning about new devices and I love to try out new tech.

If I could upgrade every 6 months, so long as manufacturers keep pace with compelling products [HTC One, Lumia 1020, HTC One mini], I would absolutely do so in a heartbeat. That's not to say that my mind is made up regarding these new services [always a skeptic with wireless carriers], but I definitely have enough interest to keep up with a plan like this.

veLa veLa said:

October 2011 - My first smartphone, Galaxy S2

August 2012 - Galaxy S2 was stolen, got the Galaxy S2 Skyrocket for cheap

May 2013 - Upgraded to the Galaxy S4 because police officers confiscated my Galaxy S2 Skyrocket after I was the victim of gun violence. I tried really hard to get it back since I was the victim and was never charged with a crime but I was never able to get it back. This led to a growing distaste for American Law Enforcement.

On another note the police also took my $1500 gaming laptop as 'evidence'. Total BS, I got abused by the law and I wasn't even the bad guy.

Guest said:

1) 3gs: Bought used for $150

2) iPhone 4: bought used for $200, sold 3gs for $150

3) LG P500?: bought super sale for $75, immdeiatly sold for $75

4) S2X: super cleanarence $150, sold for $150

5) HTC 8X: extreme deal from girl :$100 sold for $375

6) 3gs (again): $80 used.

7) Nexus 7: $50 (what I paid for the PC)

8) Note 2: used for $300, sold for $450

9) Nexus 4: used for $200... keeping [image link]

Guest said:

Aged 15 had a Nokia brick, all the usual stories of total indestructibility, but this one also survived a 100ft drop onto grass from the open cockpit of an old glider that was coming in to land, followed by a week of being left on the airfield before it's discovery the next Saturday.

Aged 17 replaced it with a HTC Desire HD, which did everything I needed, and was reasonably tough until one night when it fell 3m from my pocket onto concrete, which cracked the screen a bit. (I would tell you that it was a long story, but it isn't - I was quite drunk and hanging from the roof of a garage) Anyway, got the screen sorted, and bought it an armored case, haven't had any problems since (2 years)

Guest said:

My first smartphone was Nokia 5320

in 2011 I changed it for a Nokia 500

then I stopped using Symbian now because lack of Apps :S and Ended Lifecycle

so now I use Lumia 620 and I'am prett happy with WP8

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Depends on what you call a smartphone. I've owned several Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile phones, and those were considered smartphones. So I guess every year or two for a while. Then I got a Motorola DEFY, grew tired of it and went back to the Nokia 6120c. Its main advantage is that it fits nicely in my pocket, and because smartphones have only grown bigger with time, I don't see myself getting one any time soon. The Sony Xperia SX SO-05D did catch my eye, because it has a decent size and enough power, but it's Japanese only, and too pricy.

I do like the idea of a smartphone, just don't know of one I'd like to own. If and when Google Glass and such solutions become more common and cheap, I might get one as a phone replacement (or companion to a small phone, depending on how the technology pans out).

tonylukac said:

Had my dumbphone for 10 years. Programmed a few apps tho.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Usually after 1+ year. But I do get to try out most new smartphones when they come out, so that perhaps help in keeping the upgrade cycle bit more realistic.

Currently I am using Lumia 920 as my daily driver, and it is a fantastically stable and consistent performer, along with an crash prone S3 (that is why I use it for my work number ) which is mostly a testing device for trying out ROMS these days.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Only when it breaks. currently using Nokia 6350 from 2005 and completely satisfied, ergo no need for so-called upgrades

It supports the obvious plus GPS maps, Java, Browser, secondary micro-sd which gives pictures and music storage.

(btw: the 6350 is a non-touch dummy, like me).

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.