How often do you upgrade to a new phone?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
How often do you upgrade to a new phone?
Smartphones have quickly become an essential part of our lives. The question is no more if you have one, but which one you have. That comes with all sorts of implications, the worst one of which is probably people being judged by the device they own. Whether it’s the brand, the age, or the specific model, your smartphone is at least somewhat a reflection of the person you are.

The same goes when it comes to how often you switch to a newer device. People have all sorts of different approaches when it comes to deciding when it’s time for a new phone. I even made a flowchart about it if you’re facing that dilemma. This time, I’ve categorized some of the most popular philosophies into different camps, depending on the frequency of their upgrades. Check them out and tell me in the poll at the end if you identify with one of them.

Camp “Upgrade fever”



This camp consists of two very different types of users. We have all the tech junkies with deep pockets that are looking for that top performance and long features list on one side. On the other, there are those that don’t care as much about the specs, as long as it’s clear to everyone around them that they’re rocking the latest and greatest smartphone. Usually, people that upgrade frequently are riding the flagship wave and anything less than the best is a disappointment.

Camp “Whenever my contract expires”


This is where a huge part of smartphone users reside. They’re not too involved in the tech scene, but whenever the term of their carrier contract ends, they’re easily lured by the appeal of a fancy new phone. This means they usually upgrade once every two years and often go for a trade-in since they can’t be bothered with selling their old phone.

Camp “Out of spite”


Here things get tricky. The “out of spite” smartphone user is a rare breed. That’s the user that wants to upgrade but is unhappy where the industry is right now. There could be many reasons for that, from the high prices of flagships these days to notched displays or the lack of headphone jack. Whatever the reason, this user is teaching companies a lesson by not buying a new smartphone even if they objectively need one. When a quarter ends, they check the manufacturers’ financial results to see if their small rebellion had hit where it hurts the most: profits. They do crack eventually, their willpower is no match compared to that of the next camp...

Camp “Holding for dear life”



Users in this camp pride themselves with the life they can squeeze out of their devices. They often hold onto a smartphone for 4+ years. While the user experience towards the end of such a long upgrade cycle is far from ideal and borderline frustrating, the feeling when they finally get a new device, leaping over several generations, is exhilarating. These users don’t mind spending a bit more when the time comes because they’ll get their money’s worth until the last cent.

Camp “As soon as I can afford it”


Unfortunately, buying a new phone is not always up to your personal preference. Outside factors may prevent people from getting the smartphone they want. Usually, that means a lack of disposable income. Here the upgrade period varies wildly depending on when enough cash becomes available. Getting a new device is always exciting but sometimes other expenses rightfully take priority. And to be honest, people rarely really need a new smartphone.

So, do you identify with a certain camp? If not, just tell us how often you switch phones in the poll below below:

How often do you upgrade your smartphone?

At least once a year
21.23%
About once every two years
34.33%
About once every three years
23.09%
Once every four or more years
11.67%
Upgrade intervals vary depending on my financial situation
9.68%

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30 Comments

1. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 592; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

3 years is good for me. In that time you get good upgrades in CPU, Display, Camera's. I dont see the point of updating every year but if you got the money you may aswell ;)

2. AlienKiss

Posts: 198; Member since: May 21, 2019

2010 - HTC Desire (Bravo) 2013 - Sony Xperia Z (C6603) 2018 - Samsung Galaxy S8+ Next year I might get the Note 10+ or S11+. My Sony Z is still working and I managed to make it last longer by rooting it and debloating the OS to the bone. Sony phones last very long!

18. yalokiy

Posts: 1047; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

My friend wasn't that lucky with his Xperia Z. It would often overheat and refuse to launch any app, then the battery inflated and the screen popped out.

3. midan

Posts: 2984; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

I upgrade when there's something what i want, but usually it's been 2 years. If i wouldn't do so much photography i wouldn't have upgraded my X to Pro which was already near to perfect device for my use.

4. ahmadkun

Posts: 611; Member since: May 02, 2016

2010 - Nexus S 2013 - Galaxy S3 2014 - Galaxy Note 4 2017 - Galaxy note 3 ( I lost my note 4 ) 2017 - LG - G4 ( I lost my Note 3 ) 2018 - iPhone 7 ( alongside with my LG G4 ) Next month I'm getting the Note 9 because my G4 is contemplating death .. Tho I'm Obsessed with smartphones but it's not necessary to spend more than $500 - $600 on a phone .. at the end of the day they are still PHONES !!!

5. whatev

Posts: 2321; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Every two years, my next one will be the 2020 iPhone

6. Pureviewuser1

Posts: 156; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

Used to do so every 6 months which was costly now every two years

7. surethom

Posts: 1715; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Have a work sim contract so I purchase a new used phone via eBay every 18 to 24 months.

8. Sarkirssian

Posts: 5; Member since: Oct 01, 2019

I still use my P9 Plus and my iPhone 4s, so... And both are great!

9. ChrisLaarman

Posts: 19; Member since: Aug 12, 2016

I'm using four smartphones (larger and smaller on both Android and iOS). I may find myself replacing the oldest one every year. That would mean: upgrading every year, yet using not only the latest smartphone. (Impossible to vote.)

10. cmdacos

Posts: 4260; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

6 months. Every new flagship from Samsung

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 31291; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

With the Note, every year. iPhone wise, as of this year, and exchanging the Pro, it's every two years now. Apple has to earn the every year upgrade back.from me.

13. nickgreek

Posts: 11; Member since: Jun 01, 2015

I used to buy a new phone once a year and sometimes even less. I went from Galaxy S4 to Xperia Z1 Compact in 9 months, and from xperia to Galaxy S6 in a year. Then i went to galaxy S8+ in a year and a half. But now after i spent 2 years with my s8+ i do not find any phone worthy of an upgrade!

24. AlienKiss

Posts: 198; Member since: May 21, 2019

I know what you mean. Only the Note 10+ is somewhat appealing for me and maybe Xperia 1..

30. nickgreek

Posts: 11; Member since: Jun 01, 2015

I see but... what they offer is not enough

14. mrochester

Posts: 1020; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Since the iPhone X I can’t see any reason to upgrade as it’s still an excellent device just shy of 2 years later. As it’s lost 7% of its battery capacity over the past 2 years that would indicate another year or 2 before it needs a new battery and then it’d be good for another 2/3/4 years. I think I’d be very happy to get 5/6/7 years out of the iPhone X before needing to upgrade.

17. baldilocks

Posts: 1538; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Just look at my profile, I've had a few. :) I go further back, but PhoneArena doesn't list bag phones or old StarTAC phones.

19. yalokiy

Posts: 1047; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

It's been every year in the past 5 years. So far, I haven't spent more than $450 on a phone.

21. DFranch

Posts: 555; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

I'd say I average every 18 months. Sometimes I really hate a phone (Galaxy S5 Replaced in 6 months) and replace it sooner.

22. tokuzumi

Posts: 1925; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

More often than I would like. It usually takes me a while to find a phone I like, but when I do I try to stick with it. Sometimes the hardware makes the decision for me. I'm almost at the 18 month mark with my Galaxy S9. I plan to keep that for a while longer. Works just fine. I had a 2016 Pixel I bought a little over a year ago, and planned to keep using that. But once Google released the 3a, and gave huge discounts for old iPhone trade ins, I jumped on one of those. Hopefully I can keep each of these phones for the next year, year and a half.

23. Vancetastic

Posts: 1541; Member since: May 17, 2017

Mostly every two years, unless a phone is problematic. I'd list my devices, but it would upset fanboys from both sides.

25. lyndon420

Posts: 6823; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Didn't give the option: only when I break the screen, or if the battery is no longer any good on my current phone... I wish they'd bring back the ability to swap out our own batteries.

28. yalokiy

Posts: 1047; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

How often do you break screens?

26. Poptart2828

Posts: 422; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Switch phones twice a year at the very least. Always stick to android though.

27. Gianv

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 10, 2019

Every 4 year if the phone last. No reason to upgrade

29. tedkord

Posts: 17410; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I was doing annual upgrades, getting the latest Note each year. Then, the Note 10 came out, and no thanks. I'm not sure when the next phone that's worth my money will come along.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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