Should you upgrade to the latest and greatest phone?

What’s stopping you from buying that shiny new flagship phone? Is it the cost? Is it the judgmental look from a significant other? Is it a feeling of guilt or dissatisfaction knowing you could do “just fine” with a $200 phone? Or are you just angry because the price of top phones has jumped so much in the last year? Let’s take a look at the reasons you should upgrade to the latest phone. If they make sense to you, you should probably think long and hard about upgrading.


Yes, I get it. Phones are expensive. It’s even more obvious when you realize that the top smartphones of 2010 generally set you back $200-$300 and now phone prices are inching up to $1,500. That’s a pretty big jump and it takes some explaining.

Back in 2010 you paid a small amount for a phone. That amount was subsidized… carriers put you on a two-year contract and they knew they had you. The cost of the phone was hidden in the cost of service. Carriers did this partially because they wanted to sell you on the benefits of the phone. Today everyone agrees cell phones are a necessity. You don’t need someone to sell you on them. So, the subsidies ended. This means you pay full retail for the phone but you can upgrade whenever you want. No more waiting two years before getting a new phone.

Today’s phones are larger, more complex, faster, and do more than ever before. Costs still haven’t gotten under control as the major manufacturers scramble to get the latest features. That’s what’s driven the price up, along with crazy demand for the top phones.

How to control costs

The good news about buying a top end phone is that they do hold their value pretty well. You can expect to sell that phone for about $200 less than you paid for it. Wait two years and do a private sale and you’ll have no problem making back a lot of what you spent. Of course this means you’ll have to keep the phone in good shape and that means a good quality case. A case is going to make the phone bulkier but it’s also going to keep it looking good. The phone’s looks really determine resale value.

Another way to control your long-term costs is to adopt a “downstream” model for who gets phones when. You, the top wage earner, get the best phone first. After a year you pass it to your spouse or partner, and then each year the phone flows down to one of the kids. Yes this means the youngest kid gets the oldest phone pretty much all the time, but it also means that you’re not buying five new phones every other year.

Today’s top-end phones should work for up to five years depending on what you ask them to do. Buying a phone that’s incredibly fast today should mean that it’s still usable for years to come. I think this is more true than ever now, since phones are becoming more mature. An expensive phone is becoming an investment now.

The “feel-good” factor

Don’t underestimate the value of pampering yourself a little bit. If you can afford the phone that unlocks with your face, why not do it? Having the latest hardware in hand is going to get you some smiles from bystanders and your friends and coworkers might just be impressed too. There’s nothing wrong with doing something that makes you feel a little bit like a rock star now and again

Because new phones just work better

If you’re a “heavy user,” if you use all the latest apps, stream a lot of video, and play the hottest games, a new phone is going to work better for you. You can avoid the frustration that comes with app crashes and extreme slowness by choosing a phone with enough power to get the job done.

Don’t think it’s all about fun and games either. If you use your phone for business, you need to know it won’t conk out on you when you use Slack, Skype, or any other business app. Those business apps aren’t as demanding as Fortnite but you’d be surprised how much better they work on a newer phone.

When you’re ready for a new phone…

Sure you can go to the mall (if there’s still one in your town) but there’s another option. You can get real advice from real professionals by calling the experts at Signal Connect, the business arm of Solid Signal. They can help you figure out what you really need and help you get the latest phones and the best service from AT&T. THe number is 888-233-7563.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.