Are you afraid of contractual commitments? Do you lose sleep over how to get the next best device? If you said yes to either question - you're in good company because you're definitely not alone.
Smartphones are more relevant to our daily lives than we may ever acknowledge and we have every right to demand the best. For this reason alone, I've compiled five yes or no questions that might help you decide if a device is worth the multi-year commitment.
Does the mobile carrier or manufacturer have a history of releasing updates?
For those with iPhones or Nexuses - here's a freebie. You are excluded from this argument.
Regardless of your interest in mobile operating systems, your carrier and manufacturer's history with update releases should be considered when purchasing any smartphone.
I don't believe that any other operating system discriminates as much as Google's Android. Whatever your belief, a device's release schedule should not be at the discretion of an outside source (i.e. the carrier). For the same reasons mobile connectivity is a right in Germany, timely updates to our operating systems are a right to the user experience. It could even be detrimental to your productivity.
Imagine life without Siri. Or life with Google Now. Life without multitasking in Windows Phone 8. It's detrimental to the user experience. I have every right to enjoy the next best operating system feature as much as the next flagship from Apple or Samsung does. There shouldn't be any reason for a carrier or manufacturer to regulate how productive you are with your device which is why all smartphones should have the latest software version.
Is the device relevant to your personal and professional life?
Any smartphone has to be useful for its user. As a user, we must know how to operate it to find a reason to keep it in our pockets. Whether your poison is Android, BlackBerry 10, Boot to Gecko, iOS, Windows Phone, or Ubuntu - you should know how to make your device work for you (not the other way around).
In my personal life, I'd consider myself a moderate power user. I do not do any developing despite having a Nexus device. Likewise, I value the ability to kill applications on-the-fly. I need to manage the speed of my processor if I plan to be away from my phone charger to conserve battery life.
And most importantly, I need a reason to keep my phone. Flashing ROMs, organizing my homescreen, and enjoying the way my operating system responds to my daily activities are not only necessities: they're rights and values. For the same reason I have kept my Nexus longer than any other device I have ever owned, I need a substantial reason to flip and sell it. I do not have a legitimate reason to sell my device, so I have the right device. Ask yourself what your device is for and then you'll know if it's relevant to your life.
Is the smartphone built to last?
If you're using a smartphone that is now unidentifiable due to an obscene amount of dings and scratches, you are more of a man than I am. I have a tough time owning a device that is not in like-new-just-made-and-assembled condition. This is partially because I go through smartphones like socks. It's also because I like things that last - things that can take a beating.
There are plenty of fragile smartphones on the market: the Apple iPhone 5, HTC One X+, HTC EVO 4G LTE, LG Nexus 4, to name a few. But that doesn't mean I avoid devices that are fragile. I've accepted many moons ago that something used as frequently as my smartphone will not remain perfect. And I'm not a rough guy; I have two desk jobs. I'm just saying if it gets dinged or scratched while sitting next to my keyboard, it's not the right device for me.
For me to keep anything for two years, it has to be durable. I don't think anything with glass on both sides is built to last. Smartphones with aluminum on the back and front sides are not built to cope with daily life. Some people think plastic is synonymous with "cheap" and I understand that argument. But there is a such thing as good plastic (or polycarbonate for those in denial), so I suggest you embrace it (unless you can wait for graphene).
Does the smartphone excite you?
You don't keep a gaming console if you don't use it. You don't buy a puppy that isn't cute. So, why should you keep a smartphone that isn't exciting? Even if you aren't into mobile technology, you are endowed to the device inside your pocket based on one single fact: you know how to use it. To some, a device should be easy to use - iPhone users. Other prefer devices that are efficient and simplistic - Windows Phone users. Some like a whole bunch of glass and no buttons - BlackBerry 10 and future Ubuntu users. Others just want to mess around with something that might never be used to its full advantage - Android users.
Regardless of your preference, as long as you enjoy using your device, you have picked the right device. Too many times do I hear "I don't even use this." There needs to be a reason for you to want to use your smartphone. Mobile carriers are making a killing with the contracts we are bound by, so do yourself a favor and get what you paid for!
Will the smartphone's specifications last for two years?
I'm talking about a processor that pushes pixels along and keeps transitions fluid. An amount of RAM that doesn't negate the total of applications and processes running in the background. A battery that doesn't limit the time you can enjoy the Internet or make calls.
Whether you like it or not, the specifications of your device will affect how much enjoyment you can get from it. For the same reasons you hate hearing about quad-core processors and obscene amounts of on-board storage, you need to know what they mean. Please, don't buy a phone with a first or second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. I don't recommend purchasing a device that doesn't take full advantage of the display's native resolution. I wouldn't even recommend buying a phone that doesn't have a microSD card slot.
But most importantly, the muscle powering it all must be able to keep up with you. For the sake of longevity, buy the device with the best specifications if you plan on locking yourself into a multi-year commitment. It's for your own good. And yes, it's worth whatever they're charging for the device.
What do you think, Mr. and Mrs. Reader? Are these five reasons enough to lock yourself into a multi-year contract? Is there any reason to keep a device for two years, or do you prefer to rotate smartphones like I do? Let me know your reasons for keeping a device in the comments below!