2019 showed some really cool phones. 5G is now official, screens are now fingerprint sensors, and painting jobs look a lot like magic. The temptation to pick one is pretty strong, especially when we grab the current phone and see how that new car no longer smells. Here's a crazy idea – however, those features we love will still be here next year, and that phone we already have probably still does all the things that made us love it in the first place.
New phones are fun and can be worth it. But your phone probably still works fine.
This may be an unpopular opinion on the smart phone enthusiast site, and I can imagine that the people who work tirelessly to show off these new phones feel very different, but you probably shouldn't buy a new phone every year.
We all know that person who's been on the phone for four or five years and says they'll use it until it's turned on. While admiring the determination, I know that most of us simply cannot go that way because we are enthusiasts (read: side effects that need a techno-fix) and a few years is like forever in the tech world. But if you have a Pixel 3 or a Note 9 or a OnePlus 6T, you could probably sit down this year and be fine. And save a bunch of money that you can use to buy into another obsession.
That's not to say that 2019 doesn't bring (or will bring because Google wants to keep up) some really innovative stuff. Design improvements – both hardware and software – are everywhere and everything you most want to have on a smartphone is probably better with phones this year than it was last year. I'm not trying to argue that these improvements are not worth having. Me I am saying they would still be there when we spent a lot of money on the phone last year is so old, we no longer appreciate it.
Of course, this is not always the case. If you want everything the Galaxy S phone has to offer but hates the rounded display, the S10e was a godsend. If you had a Pixel 2 XL and burned holes in the screen, the Pixel 3 XL might be worth buying even at that level. OnePlus has moved into a robotic camera in combat. Huawei has that camera and its cool AI. If you find something that you really want to see, buying a new phone can be well worth it. The only right and wrong thing is that you decide. I'm just saying that upgrading just because something new is usually wrong. Fight with me.
If you're lucky, your boss buys your phone. Enjoy that danger!
Throw all this out the window if the boss buys your phone or you have a crazy deal from the carrier that brings you something new at the drop of a hat. But if it's not you, think about what you can do with that money in a minute. Let's call the average price of a new flagship phone at $ 800. Buying a new phone every other year instead of annually saves you $ 4,000 over 10 years. Will you get the extra $ 4,000 you enjoy because you buy a new phone every year? Or you'd rather buy fill in the blank with that money? I'd rather buy a pony made of diamonds or something, myself.
I'm happy with my current phone and the money I save if I don't upgrade.
I'm not immune to this, but I really came back. Last year I got a company-provided Pixel 3 and I will get a company-provided Pixel 4 this year. I need someone to do my job, and since I'm not paying, I'm glad to get the new model on arrival. But I'm also really happy with my other phone and BlackBerry will need to greet me with KEY3 before it can convince me to send money. All the things I liked when it was new though are things that are well-liked and while a new feature or two is cool, they should be good enough to justify the cost of upgrades. In most cases, now I don't see this reason from phone manufacturers.
Maybe we've reached top smartphones or maybe the phone makers want to keep going every other year. All I know is that no matter how great the Note 10 or Pixel 4 looks, I just don't see a reason to throw out a working phone that I liked enough to buy in 2018. If you do, go for it. Be happy. That's what really matters.
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