Tempting new phones arrive every month. Phone makers upgrade their main models once a year. You could almost set your watch by Apple’s annual iPhone launch event. Samsung and other popular brands run to a similar schedule.
Phone makers will tell you they expect customers to hang on to their devices for two years even if model lines are refreshed annually.
Carriers agree. Their phone plans are usually two-year contracts. Remember they have an incentive to keep you buying new phones and rolling over two-year contracts.
New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department depreciates phones at 67 percent a year. That implies a life expectancy of under two years.
No-one forces us to operate on a fixed timetable.
Phone hardware can last for ten years or more. There are no moving parts to seize up.
Assuming you don’t drop your phone too often or doesn’t pick up too much moisture, the first component to show signs of wear and tear will be the battery. Constant use and charging cycles mean they degrade over time. Typically they start to fade after about three to four years use.
Most phone batteries can be replaced, even those in sealed phones — they just mean more work or the cost of paying someone to do the job.
Screens tend to die somewhere between three to ten years depending. Often it’s the backlighting that goes first.
There are other examples of when the move from one year’s model to the next brings a must-have feature or capability. In general you should expect to get at least two years from a device and would ideally they should last for three or more.