How We Waste Money On Cellphones

Written by: David Scott

How often do you upgrade your phone? Do you spend hundreds of dollars on big phone brands that cost three times that of other brands? Getting the latest smartphone may seem like you are getting the newest technology on the market, but what are you paying for? Buying a new smartphone too often can cost you more money than you think. Let’s learn why!

The average American upgrades their phone every 22 months, and companies such as T-Mobile and AT&T encourage their users to upgrade every year. Phone and service companies know that you want the latest model phones in your hands, so they coerce the buyer with the “newest” tech as a marketing tactic.

Average Cost of a Smartphone

Smartphones are now more expensive than ever. Prices have skyrocketed over the last few years, and people are happy to pay the price. In 2017, smartphone sales were $69 billion, and within one year, it increased by $10 billion! Anticipated smartphone sales in 2022 are $74.7 billion, with Samsung and Apple taking 70% of the market share. 

Our phones are a large part of our budgets, and we can expect to pay up to $2,000 for the latest device. Just five years ago, the average price of a smartphone was $600. Unfortunately, once we use the device, its value depreciates, and we immediately lose money. This depreciation is due to the rapid release of new phones each year and the decline in software capabilities, causing your smartphone to become outdated quickly.

Why has the price of phones increased? The simple answer is – competition. Phone companies compete for the biggest and best screen, photo quality, storage, and software. Thus, parts are more expensive, and software is being developed rapidly at the consumer’s cost. This is hardly considered a long-term investment since we replace it within a year or two.

How Often Should You Buy a New Phone?

  • The standard time to upgrade smartphones is every two years, but it’s not always necessary. If your phone is working perfectly fine, don’t break the bank and save money by using it for a year or two more. But how do I know I need a new phone? There are some tell-tale signs to look out for if your phone needs an upgrade:
  • Software updates: If your model no longer receives software updates, you should replace it. It can be a security risk and leave your phone vulnerable to cyberattacks. 
  • Battery: An upgrade is in order if you find your phone’s battery no longer lasts throughout the day with typical use.
  • Storage: While there are various online storage solutions, such as OneDrive for all your apps and pictures, some software updates can use up the device storage. 
  • Features: Let’s face it, there are some fun and exciting features that newer models have which are appealing. With a smartphone in our hands, we all consider ourselves amateur photographers. Phone companies are constantly competing to be better than the rest for picture quality and features. 

Is it a good idea to buy a new phone? That’s up to you. Consider how you spend your time on your phone. Do you listen to music, browse social media, and take photos? The average person doesn’t need professional camera equipment or features to take everyday photos. It’s an unnecessary expense. Upgrade your phone if you want more from your device that your current model doesn’t offer. However, there are ways you can save money and get a good device too!

How To Save Money When Buying a New Phone

Buying the last generation phone from manufacturers is just one of the ways to save money when buying a new phone. They are normally significantly cheaper and offer most of the latest features. There are various other ways you can save money: 

  • Buy a used phone: Most of the phone’s features are completely unnecessary. Make a list of the must-have features you want from your device and shop according to your list. Since millions of people upgrade their phones every year, you can find a newer model smartphone at a fraction of the cost.
  • Wear it out: Use your phone until it stops working. Phones can last between 2 and 4 years. Some brands, such as apple, can last 4-10 years! So if your phone is still making updates and the battery holds up, there is no need to waste your money on a new device.
  • Avoid contracts: Pay for your phone outright if you can. When buying a phone on loan, you will pay hundreds more in interest, and you are instantly buying it at a higher price.
  • Trade-in your old phone: Don’t leave your old phone sitting in the drawer. Most carriers will offer credit towards your new phone with a trade-in.
  • Work or school phone: Some jobs will pay for your phone, and it is an excellent opportunity to save money. Check with your service providers because some offer student discounts too!
  • Budget: Does your budget allow for an expensive new phone? Many phones out there will keep you within budget while still offering the same features you want in a device.

Shop around and compare prices from different carriers. Some service providers will even buy you out of your current contract or have BOGO deals for family plans. So shop around and compare deals to see what offers are available. 

Final Thoughts

While having the latest gadget on the market might be fun at the moment, it is rarely worth the money. Instead, you may end up spending a small fortune on interest and insurance costs for features you won’t use anyway.

Is it a good idea to buy a new phone? If your current device is working perfectly fine, consider keeping it a while longer, especially if your battery is working well, your device is receiving software updates, and you have enough storage. Go online and compare deals between different service carriers and phone companies – get a new phone without hurting your wallet! 

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