iPhone Upgrade or Not

Way back in January of 2009, I wrote an article about a new device that was taking the world by storm. The iPhone. You may have heard of it. When I bought one, it was version 3 and had been out for about 18 months at that point.

It was then and is now an amazing piece of technology. The new iPhone 13 is a powerful computer and multimedia device that also lets you make phone calls. Pretty neat. I upgraded to an iPhone 13 a few months ago. The camera is amazing. It’s faster. The screen is better. But is it so much better that I needed to upgrade?

Every person has to ask themselves the upgrade question at some point. Sometimes upgrades are thrust upon you, such as when a piece of equipment dies or is lost. But more often than not upgrades are wants not needs.

How do you know when you need an upgrade? That’s a tough question, but there are a few clues that one should heed.
How long is your battery lasting? Rechargeability is truly one of the wonders of the modern era. Being able to charge up a device instead of purchasing new batteries and throwing out old 
ones is cheaper and much better for the environment. Unfortunately, rechargeable batteries lose their ability to recharge and discharge as well over time. When you start noticing that you can’t get through a normal day without charging, it’s time to consider it.

Are you out of space? This one can often be fixed manually. Delete apps you’re not using anymore. Delete photos that you no longer need or have been transferred somewhere else. Eventually, though, new applications will fill up your space. Once you’ve gone through the file diet exercise a few times and you’re still losing it might be time.

Has your telephone provider left you behind? New applications often depend on faster cellular data being available. If you use your phone for work in the field and you can’t upload and download in a timely fashion, it’s costing you money. If you’re still in the 3G world, then LTE and 5G are here and they are much faster.

Your phone is broken. Cracked screens are unfortunately a fact of life and more of a fact for older phones whose screens were more fragile. iPhone screens are repairable, but it’s not cheap. If the rest of the phone is working great and you just need to replace the screen it may be cost-effective to do so, but if other parts of your phone are failing too, it’s probably time.

Before you replace your phone think hard about it. Phones are expensive, not just in money, but environmentally. If you do decide in the end to replace it there are some options to consider.

Apple buys back older phones. There is a limit in age, but when you sell your phone back to Apple during a purchase, the components wherever possible are reused and you get some money off your new purchase.

A refurbished phone is cheaper than a new phone. apple.com/ca/shop/refurbished has refurbished equipment of all kinds including phones. They have been fully serviced by Apple and come with a one-year warranty. This is often returned equipment that’s been repaired. You reduce the environmental impact because these phones already exist, and you save some money.

Those are some ways to help decide and afford to upgrade, but if you’re phone’s working well keep it. The best thing for the environment from a technology perspective is to stick with the technology you have.