It’s almost phone season again – the time of year when tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung bombard us with dazzling marketing campaigns to get us to upgrade.

Your new phones are slightly different, but the pitch is always about the same: the phone you have is no longer good enough because this new one has a fancier camera, brighter screen, and is faster too. So give the “old” one to a less tech-savvy family member or trade it in for credit for a shiny new device.

This cycle of hype creates an annual dilemma: is it time to upgrade? We all know that after a few years our phones won’t work as well as they used to. The latest apps may not be able to run. It can feel sluggish. Some components, e.g. B. Touchscreens can fail.

At some point it becomes useful to get a new phone if, for example, too many negatives add up or the cost of repairing a defective part is too high. Often times, however, upgrades are unnecessary as the elements that make us unsatisfied with our phones can be fixed with some care.

In any case, let yourself be guided by your personal situation – not the charm of the telephone season – and take your time to think.

“In general, we need to get away from tying the upgrade to, ‘Hey, there’s a new iPhone. Now is the time to think about it, ‘”said Nick Guy, a senior executive at Wirecutter, the New York Times’ sister publication that tests products. “There’s nothing wrong with getting a phone later.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself – and some practical advice – to help you reconsider this decision.

The first and most important step is to measure your satisfaction with your phone. If there are elements that make you unhappy, address the issues.

Much of what makes us unsatisfied with our phones can be fixed, so being aware of the solutions helps. Here are two of the most common frustrations and their remedies:

  • If the device feels slow or doesn’t last all day, one of the easiest and cheapest solutions is to replace the battery. Apple stores will replace an iPhone battery for $ 50 to $ 70, and many independent technicians can service batteries for Apple and Android phones for the same price.

    Replacing the battery will greatly extend the life of a device and speed it up. Because batteries have a finite lifespan, it is recommended that they be replaced every two to three years anyway, said Kyle Wiens, managing director of iFixit, a company that publishes instructions on how to repair devices.

  • Another common problem is running out of data storage, preventing users from taking more photos and downloading apps. A quick solution is to delete apps that you no longer use. On iPhones, Apple offers the iPhone Storage Tool, which shows a list of the apps that are consuming the most data and when they were last used. On Android devices, Google offers a similar tool, Files.

Some major problems cannot be fixed easily. For example, a broken touchscreen could cost $ 200 or more, which is close to the price of a decent new phone like the $ 400 iPhone SE or $ 300 Google Pixel 4A. If a repair is more than half the cost of a new phone, it may be time to trade in your worn out device for credit on a new one.

Phone manufacturers regularly release software updates that contain new functions, but also close security loopholes. It is therefore important to keep an overview during the installation. A good rule of thumb is to consider upgrading if you are no longer able to receive software updates.

Let us help you protect your digital life

Apple phones receive software updates for five to six years. (Apple’s iOS 15 software, which hits the market this fall, will be compatible with phones up to the iPhone 6S from 2015.) Android devices will get them for a shorter period of time – around two to three years.

While security updates are important, some people may find it impractical to upgrade once the software updates expire, said Sinan Eren, a senior executive at security firm Barracuda Networks. In countries like Turkey, various taxes can add about a 100 percent markup on electronics, he said, which means customers have an economic incentive to keep a device for more than five years.

“It is a difficult situation and therefore a luxury to even think about safety,” said Mr. Eren.

There are ways around this problem. Anti-malware apps like Malwarebytes can keep older Android phones running safely for a little longer. Apple phones can also run apps like 1Blocker that block malicious ads from loading on websites.

It’s important to imagine what your life would be like with a new phone, said Wirecutter’s Mr Guy. If you have a newborn baby out and about and your phone camera is taking blurry footage, upgrading with a better camera is likely to change your phone experience in remarkable ways.

But if you use a phone primarily for basic tasks like making calls, messaging, and surfing the internet, a newer, faster phone won’t make much of a difference as phones have been very fast for years.

“Don’t replace something that works well just because there is a newer, shinier version,” said Mr. Guy.