Smartphones are incredible pieces of equipment and fundamental to our modern lifestyles. But eventually, they come to the end of their useful life, and it is time for an upgrade.
When we should change our smartphones, however, is a matter of contention. There is a group of people who think that you should do it every year so that you’re up to date with the latest technology. But there are also a bunch of savvy individuals who think that it is worth waiting – at least a little while – until it is absolutely necessary to switch.
Nobody can tell you which camp to occupy – that’s a matter of personal preference. However, there are certain warning signs that you really should upgrade, no matter what your personal preference. Smartphones don’t last forever.
It’s Damaged, And It Affects Everyday Use
Using your phone every day will eventually take its toll. Even with a case and Gorilla Glass, most handsets wind up looking pretty beaten up after a couple of years. You can try to take care of them as best as possible, but eventually, the chaos of life will inevitably lead to damage.
Two types of damage afflict smartphones: the kind that doesn’t have any bearing on your enjoyment of the device, and the type that wrecks it. Broken screens are probably the number one most annoying thing that can happen. The phone is still usable in all other senses – it’s just that you have to text people through smashed glass.
Loose buttons and ports are also a major catastrophe. Having cables wiggle about while you’re trying to charge your phone is definitely a pain. USB ports can also become loose, making it hard to connect your device to your car or computer.
The good news is that you can get most of these issues fixed by taking your handset to the repair shop. Some, though, require outright replacement.
Your Display Has “Burn-In”
Most phone screens use something called OLED technology. Manufacturers like this tech because it allows them to display deep blacks against super bright whites. It’s why you can watch a video in the dark on your phone with black bars and barely notice them – in contrast to a regular computer monitor.
Unfortunately, the technology comes with drawbacks – the fact that it can lead to screen “burn-in.” Here an image of the display remains on the screen, even when the backlight is off. The screen burns an image into the surrounding material, creating an annoying afterglow every time you switch on your phone.
Usually, you won’t notice this effect too much. But if you’re the type of person who is on the same apps, day in, day out, it can become quite apparent.
Unfortunately, some type of burn-in is usually inevitable. OLED technology invariably leads to residual marks on the screen, so the time will come when this will force your hand, and you’ll need to splash out on a replacement.
Your Battery Life Is Poor
In the past, you could quite easily replace the old battery with a new one if life was poor. But today, that’s easier said than done. Most phones are fully-sealed, self-contained units.
Currently, the vast majority of handsets rely on lithium-ion technology to power them. The battery technology is suitable for around 500 charges, but after that point, the cell starts to degrade. Thus, you’ll notice that the time between charges goes down about 18 months into owning a handset.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way around this problem. It is something inherent to all devices currently on the market. Some people have to sell Samsung Galaxy S9 handsets or their Apple iPhone X because of battery degradation. It can happen that quickly.
Evidence suggests that batteries only have about 70 per cent of their original capacity after about 500 cycles. For some people, that will mean two charges per day, which can get a little annoying.
You’ve Noticed Serious Declines In Performance
People like to chalk loss of performance up to malware and app bloat. But, unfortunately, it is usually more severe than that. Merely resetting your handset to factory settings probably won’t restore full functionality. Typically, the hardware itself is degraded.
Developers also have an annoying habit of increasing the performance requirements of apps over time. They know that the vast majority of people have newer handsets, so they change the program to become more data-intensive. When they do this, it has an immediate impact on performance, especially on an older device that doesn’t have the same level of hardware.
Storage drives, though, are the main problem. At first, they store all your files neatly, one next to the other. But as you accumulate more apps, media and texts (and delete stuff), they become more fragmented. Eventually, there are bits and pieces of programmes all over the place, and it is a total mess. The firmware on the phone then has to work extra hard to retrieve the information that you need. And it is not always efficient in its efforts. The effect, therefore, is a phone that runs more slowly.
You Can’t Upgrade To The Latest Patch
After a while, software developers stop supporting various handsets. They do this for several reasons, not least the fact that it saves them money.
Both Android and Apple regularly update their operating systems to ensure that they are robust against hackers and don’t crash while you use them. They also do it to add new features and upgrade them in line with the performance characteristics of the average smartphone.
Sometimes, though, they will discontinue support for old handsets, simply because new versions of the OS aren’t suitable. They might be too large (in terms of file size) or require more processing power than the device can handle.
If your phone can’t upgrade to the latest OS, you’re in trouble. It means that you don’t have access to the newest patches and that you’re a target for hackers. Where possible, update your phone as early as possible.