chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

GPSolo eReport

GPSolo eReport Article Archives

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? That Is the Mobile Phone Question!

Jeffrey M Allen and Ashley Hallene


  • When deciding whether to upgrade, consider the age of your mobile phone and whether you would truly benefit from new features.
  • If your phone does not run on 5G, you should consider upgrading to one that does.
  • Service providers may offer discounts if you trade in your old phone
To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? That Is the Mobile Phone Question!
Xavier Lorenzo via Getty Images

Jump to:

About this time each year, Apple releases its newest iteration of the iPhone and usually an upgrade to its operating system. While more phones use the Android Operating System than Apple’s iOS, more people use the iPhone than any other brand. As most of our readers know, we strongly prefer the Apple universe. We regularly receive questions from people asking whether and when they should upgrade to a newer phone. Sometimes, we get questions about whether they should switch to an iPhone and occasionally questions about upgrading Android phones. While we do not pay as much attention to the Android phones as to those from Apple, we have developed a favorite Android manufacturer, Samsung.

You have many considerations in deciding whether to upgrade your phone. The tips below discuss the most important ones.

Tip 1. Consider Age

How old is your current phone? The longer the period of time since its manufacture, the more likely you should consider upgrading. Both the software and the hardware have a shelf life. The battery on a phone can only recharge so many times. The software that powers the phone will only be supported and maintained for a finite period. Out-of-date hardware and out-of-date software both pose security risks and are strong indicators that it is time to upgrade.

Tip 2. The 5G Question

Does your current phone run on 5G? If not, we think you should consider upgrading. Note, however, that not every provider offers 5G service everywhere. If your current provider does not make 5G service available in your area, you might also want to consider switching to another provider or delaying an upgrade. We think 5G offers enough advantages to make it worth moving from one carrier to another and upgrading to a 5G-capable phone if you can get 5G service. If you live in a rural area, you may not have 5G service available at all for the present, which moots the question of whether your current phone runs 5G.

Tip 3. Compare Features

Does the new phone under consideration add features that you need or really want? You should also compare the prospective new phone to your current model in terms of battery life per charge, camera capabilities, processing speed, memory, and what type of biometric security it offers (if any).

Tip 4. What about the Cost?

Cost will not influence some users but may deter others. You will not find a cheap date among the top-end phones. Often, you will look at an acquisition cost of more than $1,000. We cannot answer the question of whether the newer phone and its features justify the cost to you; you will have to make that decision, but you certainly will want to give some thought to that question. In making that analysis, remember that many service providers offer discounts to get you to switch to their system, and some manufacturers and providers offer discounts if you trade in your old phone. A number of manufacturers have special financing structures allowing you to return your phone and get a new one every year or two.

Tip 5. iPhone or Android?

While you will have to make your own choice, in the “for what it’s worth” department, we have always preferred the Apple universe and have previously disclosed that bias. We prefer the Apple iOS to the Android Operating System and have stayed with iPhones as our primary mobile devices for many years. Our attitude about this has not changed. We think iOS works more smoothly and reliably than Android, and we prefer the selection of apps in Apple’s App Store over those in the Google Play Store. The hardware capabilities of the top-end phones may differ, but all seem to work well. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you prefer. Of the new phones available, we prefer the iPhone 14 Pro. We like the 14 Pro Max, too, but think it is just a bit too large for convenient carrying. The iPhone 14 Pro offers exceptional features, including a very fast processor, a stunningly good camera, and up to 1 TB of storage. All that comes at a price, however, and for most people, we would suggest the iPhone 14 as a better value. If you do a lot of photography and use your phone as your primary camera, however, we think you should seriously consider the 14 Pro series as, in our opinion, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera capabilities offer a substantial improvement over those on the 14 and most other phones.

Bonus Tips

Just remember that very few people really need to upgrade their phones every year. If you purchased a top-end new phone last year, you probably should not buy another one this year. If you purchased one a few years ago, you probably should. In our opinion, at the present time, 5G capability provides the best point of demarcation. If you live in an area that has 5G available and you do not have a 5G-capable phone, we think you should upgrade to get that capability. If you already have a 5G-capable phone or do not live in an area that offers 5G, and your phone is a year or two old, you can easily wait another year.