5 Signs You Need a New Phone

Mj 618_348_5 signs you need a new phone
Jan Stromme / Getty Images

The upgrade cycle for a new smartphone listed in your contract probably used to go something like this: Renew every two years, and get a discounted or free phone in return. But now most wireless providers are dropping contracts — and the phone discounts that came with them. That means you’ll fork out more upfront for a new phone. And the longer you keep it, the better deal that is for you. With new iPhones recently announced, it begs the question: Should you upgrade? In most cases, any one of these issues can be fixed or overcome, but here are some key points to consider.

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Weak Battery Life
Rechargeable batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, and then they need to be replaced. The rule of thumb is after around 500 cycles, you’ll get about 80 percent of the original capacity. But well before then you’ll notice the battery can’t make it through the day. To determine if your battery is the issue, you can check battery health. On Android, install Battery Monitor Widget. On an iOS device, you can take it to the Apple Store. Or, if you have a Mac, download coconutBattery. Both will tell you what percentage of the capacity is available. For example, a full charge on a two-year-old iPhone 5S had just 58.8 percent of its capacity left.

Time for an upgrade?
If battery life alone is the problem, you don’t have to buy a new phone. Samsung charges just $45 for a Galaxy S6 replacement battery; Apple will replace your battery for $79.

Slow Speeds
Over time, your once speedy phone will feel slower than a dial-up modem. Think of it as the aging process for electronics: cruft from cache files builds up, new software requires more processor horsepower and memory, and the whole thing slows to a crawl. To help keep your phone be as nimble as possible, make sure you have plenty of free space — delete unneeded apps and move your storage to the cloud. You can also shut down extras like animated backgrounds that can sap processor power.

Time for an upgrade?
If speed is the problem, then yes, it’s probably time for an upgrade. For example, Apple’s iPhone 6 used an A8 processor, which is about 25 percent faster than the A7 used in the 5S.

Not Enough Storage
Despite your efforts to free up space on your phone, you can’t seem to find enough storage. This will especially be a problem for phones with 8GB or 16GB of storage — as games and other apps get more sophisticated, they required more space on your phone’s storage.

Time for an upgrade?
Maybe. You can opt for a case that adds more storage, such as the Mophie Space Pack ($150). The Leef iBridge ($60) makes an additional 16GB available through an unobtrusive USB drive. But these add bulk and just aren’t as seamless as having all the data on the phone. Newer phones come with 32, 64, or 128 GB — another good reason for an upgrade.

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Missing Functions
With each new version of iOS or Android, the designers add features older phones just can’t handle. Even though an iPhone 5S, for example, runs the latest version of iOS, the Health app can’t tell how many flights you’ve climbed — you’ll need the sensors in an iPhone 6 or newer for that.

Time for an upgrade?
Yes. If there’s a feature you want that the phone isn’t capable of, that’s the best reason to upgrade. In most cases, there are no workarounds.

Low-Quality Photos and Videos
The cameras on our phones might be the most-used function. And chances are you’re probably using your smartphone as your sole camcorder to shoot everyday video. A scratched lens will leave marks on every photo you take. If you have an older phone, the camera probably isn’t up to snuff. Plus, the resolution and lenses on current models rival the best point-and-shoot cameras on the market. Older phones will hamper your selfies, especially because many front-facing cameras offer lower resolution.

Time for an upgrade?
If the lens is scratched, you can send the phone off to various online vendors that will charge about $100 for the job. But not much can be done about resolution issues. If quality is the problem, it’s time for an upgrade.

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