Do you upgrade your phone every year?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: August 12, 2013

As a fan of smartphones, sometimes it's hard to buy a phone. Especially depending on which time of year it is. For instance, right now is an incredibly tricky time to walk into a store and buy a phone, or even order one online. We may have just seen Motorola and LG announce their two new devices, but we also know that here in September, we'll see Samsung and Apple unveil their handsets, too. We're right in the middle, caught between a tug-of-war that never actually seems to really end.

I'm sure you've heard someone say it, or maybe you've been at the receiving end of it once or twice before: "Just wait." I've heard it more times than I can count, and I'm sure someone who goes through quite a few phones in a year --one way or another-- has heard it, too. The "just wait" mentality is that another phone is coming right around the corner, so if you just wait a bit longer…

But waiting isn't any fun. Moreover, if you were always waiting for that other device that's right around the corner, you'd never be able to experience any of the great devices available at the time. I've never been a big fan of waiting, especially when it comes to smartphones. It's never been a secret that there's going to be something new coming soon, that's just how technology works. So you have to embrace it, and not shy away from it.

It is starting to get a little easier, though. Thanks to cycles.

Manufacturers are leaning more and more towards yearly refresh cycles for their flagship devices. It's easier on us, or at least it should be in theory. After all, many people have a brand name, or even a flagship series, that they're so devoted to they'll happily wait for the next one, all the while skipping any other phone that's launched. It's sort of taking that "just wait" mentality and making it work for you.

Yearly refreshes may be the thing these days, and Apple's made it a particularly interesting endeavor ever since the iPhone 3GS landed on the scene. We now know that their yearly refresh follows a distinct and set path, of which actually features two devices: the original, and the "S" variant. As my fellow editor, Anna, outlined just a couple of days ago, picking the one that's right for you may just come down to specs.

But what about those who get the new iPhone just because it's a new iPhone? After all, each subsequent model does indeed have newer specs, even new features, which makes the similar body style tolerable, if nothing else. We know that people who bought the iPhone 4 upgraded to the iPhone 4S. And we know those who started with an iPhone with the 4S moved up to the iPhone 5. People upgrade every year, one way or another, and that's what I'm curious about.

How do you do it? How do you, one, justify the yearly upgrade; and second, how do you manage to get the phone, if you're tied to a two-year contract thanks to the previous device you purchased when it launched? In the past, AT&T has been known to allow for some early upgrades, so that's one way you could have done it.

However, the yearly upgrade just doesn't jive well with our two-year contract lengths, especially since that particular contract is really the only one our carriers are pushing these days. (If they're pushing a contract at all, that is.) But people figure it out. They work around it to get what they want. Every. Year.

So tell me, how do you upgrade your phone every year? Did you buy an iPhone 5 last year, and plan on upgrading to the iPhone 5S this year? Even if we aren't talking about an iPhone, considering Samsung has turned to the yearly refresh cycle as well (among others), do you buy a new phone every year? Let me know!

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