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The shiny object dilemma, smartphone edition

People holding their smartphones.

Ah, the age-old question (well, since 1994): Do I really need a new smartphone?

We’ve all been there, getting pummeled with ads for the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones, which seem to appear at least every quarter. And each company promises the best-of-the-best devices with each version they roll out.

Our current phones still boast an uncracked screen when the latest and greatest jumps on the scene, making us look at the device in our hands with disdain. “If only my phone could do what this new one can.”

It makes it easy for us to settle into buyer’s remorse (yes, even just a few months later) when the newest phone is released, and it’s a fraction better than what we currently have. So, how do you know when it’s really time to upgrade? Here are six things to consider before you fall victim to the shiny object syndrome.

1. Slow as a snail

Does your phone load apps slower than molasses? Do games lag, or does your camera start recording seconds after you’ve commanded it to start? If so, it may be time to retire your current device. Only consider that after you turn it off and back on, however. Sometimes a quick restart is all it needs.

2. Battling battery

Do you find yourself in a panic if you’ve forgotten your charging cable or your portable charger, even when you’re only running a quick errand? Does the battery life drain faster than you can say, “I need to put my phone on the charger”? If you find yourself constantly tethered to a charger or your phone is always in “power save” mode just to make it through a few hours of the day, it’s probably time to look for a new device with better battery life.

3. Pixelated pictures

If your once picture-perfect photos are now grainy or pixelated, your smartphone’s camera may be on its last legs. Are videos jumpy, or is there a weird glare in every photo? There’s probably next to no chance that your friends and family will consider those pictures “artistic,” so you may want to consider an upgrade, especially if you want to continue to slay on social media.

4. Sluggish software

Does this scenario sound familiar? You tap on your favorite app, and instead of opening it, you get that dreaded popup about needing the latest operating system to use it. If you’re missing out on enjoying your current apps or downloading fun, new ones because of compatibility issues, it’s probably time to upgrade. Newer phones tend to run the latest and greatest software, chock-full of security features to keep you and your data safe.

5. Unfortunate encounters

Our phones go into battle every day, facing countless falls from our hands, cracked screens, spilled drinks or—for some poor unfortunate souls—plunges into bodies of water. Sometimes, that bowl of rice just won’t bring your phone back to life. You may be able to resuscitate it, but it will never be the same. If your phone falls into this category (see what we did there?), it may be time to visit your favorite smartphone distributor.

6. Peer pressure

We see you, Android users. All your friends are using iPhones, and you’re the only one in the group chat who’s green. It’s blatantly obvious. Android users and iPhone users both believe their devices are superior, and each has merit. But don’t let the other side pressure you into joining them if you’re happy with what you have. That’s just not a good enough reason to buy a new phone. Stay strong, whichever side you’re on.

Don’t give in to FOMO

Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) get the better of you when you see that new ad or commercial for the iPhone 14+ or Google Pixel 7. Chances are your phone is just fine, and you’re feeling a little left out because the cameras on the newer phones boast a few more megapixels than your own.

If you do decide you’re ready for a new phone, though, be sure to do your research.

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (kidding)