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When is it time to replace your mobile phone?

How old is your phone? An estimated 70% of smartphone users in the UK replace their phone within four years. And over a third of these buy a new phone every one to two years. This is more the case amongst younger people: 40% of 18–24-year-olds replace their smartphone within two years. 

But interestingly, most people don’t buy a new phone just because they want something newer and more on trend. In the majority of cases, it is because the phone is no longer working as it should. 

45% of smartphone users would buy a new device if their current one stopped working, rather than attempt to have it repaired. Smartphone users can be put off having their phone repaired because of the cost, the inconvenience of not having a device whilst it is being repaired, and the time it would take to get the phone fixed.

But when is the best time to replace your mobile phone? Do phones wear out? If so, are there warning signs you should look out for that indicate your phone is nearing its end? And if you need to replace your phone, what is the best type of contract to go for?

In this article we try to answer the above questions to help you determine if it is time to replace your mobile phone.


How long should a mobile phone last?

There are varying opinions regarding the average life of a mobile device, but the typical smartphone life of some of the major brands in the UK is anywhere between 2 and 8 years. However, many smartphones start to decline after around 3 years, as this is the point at which hardware becomes outdated, with no new operating system updates offered. You may notice that your battery life begins to decline and your phone struggles to install new applications.


Does a mobile phone wear out the more it is used?

The simple answer to this is no, but there are various factors that can hasten your phone’s demise. If you are aware of these factors, you may be able to prolong the life of your phone. Here are five things that you can do:


  • Use a phone case and screen protector

It’s so easy to drop your phone, but cracks to the screen or back of the phone can cause damage, particularly if left untreated. It’s far better to invest in a decent phone case and screen protector to protect your phone and extend its lifespan. 


  • Charge your phone less frequently

Most mobile phone batteries are not replaceable, unless by an expert. And these batteries have a finite amount of charges before they become ineffective, usually between 500-800 full charges. So if you charge your phone frequently, the battery is likely to pack up sooner than if you charge it less frequently. 

Also, if you let your battery run down to 0% and/or charge it to100% this uses a full charge cycle, and also puts strain on the battery. The best thing to do is to aim to keep your battery between 20% and 80% for optimum performance and most economical charging.


  • Keep your phone out of direct heat

Heat is very bad for your phone battery, because when your phone becomes hot, the battery has to work harder to maintain the phone’s functionality, which can reduce the length of its life.

So take care to keep your phone away from direct heat, such as hot sun or radiators, to keep it as cool as possible.


  • Install all operating system updates

Your phone’s operating system ensures that your hardware works as efficiently as possible. So it’s important to install every update that you are sent. Remember that there will come a point at which your hardware will become obsolete and no further updates will be issued. But for as long as you receive updates and your phone is able to install them, you should keep up to date.


  • Minimise apps and storage

Many apps continue running in the background of your phone even when not being used, which puts a strain on your battery and hardware. Also check how much you are storing on your phone – especially photos and videos. If you have already backed these up to the cloud, you don’t need to keep them all on your phone as well. 

By deleting unwanted apps and excessive items in storage, you can conserve battery life and memory on your phone and help to prolong its life.


What are the warning signs your mobile phone is on its way out?

There are many signs that your mobile phone is nearing the end of its life. The main thing is to trust your instinct : you know your phone best, and will sense when something is not quite right. But some of the things to look out for include:

  • Your battery life is much less that it used to be;
  • Your phone sometimes shuts down unexpectedly;
  • Your conversations break up and/or people can’t hear you;
  • Your camera begins to work intermittently;
  • Some apps start running very slowly or shut down mid-use;
  • You are unable to upgrade to the latest operating system;
  • The manufacturer stops supporting your device.


But what about if you damage your phone, for example you drop it and the screen cracks, or if you are sure the problems are all related to your battery being almost gone? Should you try to get it repaired or just get a new phone? Let’s take a look.


Is it worth getting a mobile phone repaired?

There are a lot of mobile phone problems that can be fixed, but it doesn’t come cheap. According to Which? the average repair cost for a broken screen is around £170.

If your phone has a battery problem, this is cheaper to fix, with the average repair cost for a broken battery being around £43. If you are having battery problems, bear in mind that poor battery life can sometimes be improved by downloading the latest software update to your smartphone, so it’s definitely worth checking this first.

Before paying for repairs, just double check whether your device is covered by warranty, in which case repair costs would be less or possibly even free. Also check whether you have any mobile phone insurance – for example when you took out the contract – as certain repairs may be fully or partially covered, so make sure you take advantage if applicable.

If your phone does need repair, you have the option of either getting in touch with the manufacturer to get it sorted out, or finding a third-party repair service, for example on the high street. Always take time to do your research and check out customer reviews before entrusting your mobile to a third party.

Once you know the cost of repairs, and how long it is going to take, this will help you to decide whether it’s worth replacing your phone. But the answer to this question also depends on whether your current phone is still meeting all your phone needs. If so, then it could be worth getting it repaired. You will save on the cost of a new phone and be able to use that money for other things that you value more.

But if your current phone is already lacking the kind of functionality that you now need from a phone, with new or improved features and more storage capacity, then it is probably the right time to replace it rather than paying for repairs just to prolong its life.


If you replace your mobile phone, what is the best type of contract?

Finding the best phone for you and your budget can feel very daunting as there are so many different options available. If you were happy with the phone you had, you may decide to go with the latest version of it. Or you may want a complete change. Whatever you decide, make sure you do lots of research and also ask around for word of mouth recommendations.

But once you’ve chosen the phone that you want, you then need to decide how to buy it.

Experts recommend that buying a phone outright – unlocked and SIM-free – is the best option. The advantage of this is that you can use any SIM you like and you are free to sell the phone in future if you decide to upgrade. However, the disadvantage of this is that you would need to find the money upfront to buy the phone.

The alternative to buying a phone outright is to go on contract with a phone supplier. This means that you get both the phone and SIM card with a monthly allowance of calls, data and texts. You pay a single monthly fee for a fixed period of time, usually 12, 24 or 36 months. The monthly fee is a combination of repaying the cost of the phone and paying for your monthly usage. And once the phone itself is paid for, you can usually either upgrade your phone or continue the contract on a usage basis only.

So a contract can relieve you of the upfront cost of the phone, but it means that you will have a higher monthly bill to pay as the bill includes the phone as well as the usage.

We hope that the above tips are helpful in deciding whether it is the right time to replace your mobile phone and what kind of contract may be best for you.

And if you need any additional funds at any stage – for example to repair your phone or purchase a new one – remember that Munzee Loans offer online loans that may be able to help.


Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Munzee Loans.