How often do you upgrade?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| February 7, 2014

If you're into mobile tech as much as we are (which you probably are if you're reading this) then you already know that one of the happiest days to roll around every couple of years or so is upgrade day. It's funny how just two years can render your phone a stoneage relic most of the time, but that's just the way technology works, unfortunately. With most carriers here in the U.S., 20-22 months is going to be your magic number before you're able to get that great new flagship on the cheap (read: subsidized), but as I mentioned before, if you're as in to mobile tech as I think you are, you probably have the same problem that I do: you find ways to upgrade early.

It's not really as hard to upgrade early now as it was in 2012, before T-Mobile introduced their Jump! program and every other major U.S. carrier followed suit. So, at least there is an easy way around early upgrades at this point (but if you ask me, they're not always worthwhile). But even before early upgrade programs, there were some options out there that allowed you to "upgrade" early. 

The first option is the most obvious, and that's purchasing whatever new phone you've had your eye on at full price. However, you probably already know that full-price smartphones aren't exactly cheap, and depending on the model it can sometimes run you close to $1,000. I don't judge people who are able to purchase at full price, but mostly people aren't going to justify spending all of that money on a new smartphone, especially because they can save a few hundred bucks just by waiting another year or so for an upgrade. But believe me, if I had the money to purchase a smartphone full-price every time I saw one that I liked, I would go ahead and do it as long as I was on a network that didn't include subsidies automatically in their plans. In the end, it's probably the most budget-savvy option long-term, even if it sounds like a lot to begin with.

But that's not how I go about upgrading early. For me, it's all about the discounts I can find on used models. I've always had a bit of a smartphone addiction. Smartphones to me are like the stereotypical woman's obsession with shoes or purses; I just kind of want them. They don't really have to be new, they just have to look new. Fortunately, it's not that hard to get good deals on gently used smartphones from a lot of places. My favorite places to find smartphones are from Amazon or Swappa. I've had great customer service from both companies, and I almost always find what I'm looking for at a price that I'm willing to pay. Even if I'm not looking for a particular model of something, I often find myself at these websites just looking for good deals because, to put it simply, I have a problem.

I know I'm not the only one! Even if these "upgrades" aren't brand new phones right out of the box, it's still a new phone to tinker with. For me, I probably get a new phone every 3-4 months somehow. Generally I won't use them for more than a month if I didn't like it more than whatever daily driver I had been using before it, but I still enjoy learning about new phones in the process. Besides, with new phones always coming out as quickly as they do, I can't help but feel like the standard 20-22 month wait period between upgrades is just far too long. While I am appreciative of programs like Jump! for people like me who want to upgrade all the time, I'm still not keen of the idea of having to give back my device that I paid however much money for already, on top of the monthly fee to be in the program in the first place. I'm not saying it's a bad idea for everybody, but I like actually keeping my devices around for the most part. Smartphones are expensive little buggers, and I don't like just handing them over to anybody.

In the end, everything works out okay. There are websites and people out there who make "upgrading" early a possible, affordable thing, and I'm appreciative of that because it allows me to feed my addiction. But now I ask you, dear reader: How often do you find yourself "upgrading" phones? Do you find ways to get a new phone several times a year, or are you able to wait the nearly two-year wait period in order to get a new phone? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!