Why You Probably Don’t Need A New Smartphone

Why You Probably Don’t Need A New Smartphone
Image: Raul Marrero (Gizmodo)

The way we use our phones has changed vastly since the days of an old school Nokia brick. We screen our calls and opt for messages. We use them as video game consoles. We rely on them for everything from directions through to the weather forecast.

And despite having that world at our fingertips, we still feel the need to replace these phones almost annually.

But that’s not the best thing in the long run, and here’s why.

This article has been sponsored by numobile.

#1 Your current phone is probably fine

Image Image: Getty Images

Part of the hype culture surrounding annual smartphone releases depends on the perception that new means better. And sure, a lot of the newer phones will come with upgrades that make them slightly better than their predecessors, but don’t conflate ‘new means better’ with ‘older means defunct’.

The camera on your current phone might not be as good, and it won’t be as fast, but it’s still perfectly fine. Apple’s iOS supports phones all the way make to the iPhone 5, and you can always extend the life of an Android phone with a new battery, or a system refresh.

The reason we keep upgrading is because we buy into FOMO, wanting the newest, shiniest thing that everyone on the internet is talking about.

#2 Environmental concerns


If you thought your bank account was mad at you for forking out thousands of dollars on a new model, just wait till you hear how landfills are reacting. Here’s a cold, hard truth: because of turnover, electronic waste has risen massively in the era of the smartphone.

There’s around 25 million unused phones in Aussie homes, with about 20 million of those still in working order, according to Mobile Muster. We’ve got perfectly good devices, but we’re still buying for the sake of buying.

Whether your previously owned smartphones wind up living in the deepest corner of your desk, gathering dust, or they can end up piling in unsustainable landfills, the bottom line is that there’s a serious amount of excess that isn’t being dealt with.

#3 The money you’ll save can go to something more worthwhile

Image Image: Getty Images

If we’re getting financial, the price sticker on most new model smartphones is enough to raise your eyebrows at. Year on year, prices are increasing to the point where a brand new iPhone will cost you roughly the same amount as an overseas holiday.

And the thing is, buying a phone is just as much of a luxury – but that luxury has started feeling more like a necessity. However, if you really need a phone you can now opt for a good quality pre-owned phone from numobile – and you’ll be saving enough to splurge on areas that you really do regard as luxuries.

You know that camera on your year-old smartphone? Use it to take photos while holidaying in South Korea or Japan. Better yet, use part of the money you’d put towards your phone and donate it to a charity that aims to reduce the waste produced by the electronics industry.

The bottom line is that we don’t really need to keep buying and buying in this cycle. There are stacks of alternative options – you could simply keep your current phone, or opt for a provider like numobile who you can get a quality pre-owned phone from, and you can swap or return your phone anytime you want.

Sure, if you’re really set on getting a brand new phone there’s nothing stopping you. But the important thing is that you don’t feel like you HAVE to.


  • Thats great and all, except thanks to moore’s law our technology becomes increasingly incapable of operating modern software until an upgrade basically becomes mandatory. And given the average lifespan of a smartphone contract here in Australia is 2 years, that’s about on par with the recommended upgrade schedule for a desktop. We can’t slap in a new cpu or gpu or motherboard for a mobile phone, so we have to upgrade if we want to be able to maintain the electronic standard of living.

    • Fact is, your mobile can actually run most software for 5 or so years, but the 2 year cycle has been embedded in the user because of one aspect: Phone contracts. Get into a phone contract, by the time 24 months is up, you’re ready to upgrade again to a new one. The usual times that software can’t is mostly affected when companies such as Apple and Samsung artificially restrain the mobile from doing so, as seen by Apple slowing down mobiles ‘to save battery’ or for needless points of concern. Granted you can now ‘choose’ to opt out of doing this, but this only came about after it was found they were doing it. I’m still rocking my SGS8, one of my mates, his SGS7, granted his battery life is only now starting to wane, my battery is still pretty fresh, but I’m going to ride this sucker out til its dying day. Only then will I consider upgrading. If more and more people broke away from this ‘2 year cycle’ mentality, we’d actually see better consumer value for phones.

      • I’m using an LG G6 and love it. Must be 3 years old? but…. I’ve dropped it a gazillion times, broken the camera, which I’ve replaced but now has dust under the glass, and the battery has really gone to hell, yesterday it died on me at 30%. People saying Pie update magically makes the battery better but I think I might have thrashed mine too much lol. That’s the only reason I upgraded from a note 4, battery, and everytime I tried to get a replacement they went out of stock (was really odd actually).

        What gives me the absolute shits, is that I used to work in IT and have a whole crate full of iPhone 4/5/6/C/se and some iPads still that are completely unusable because of iCloud locking by employees who left and didn’t unlock them and we couldn’t find the right receipts to satisfy apple. Would be some great phones and iPads in this batch but I think I’m just going to have to E waste them because they are literal bricks ATM. Could go to people who need them instead of the bin.

  • I’m writing this from my galaxy s7. Had it for more than 4 years and it still performs just fine. I would still be using my even older hyc as the dedicated sound driver was much better than the rubbish audio on Samsung’s but the old HTC only have 2gb in built memory and no SD slot. That’s the only reason I upgraded. Now this and my wife’s phone plans are out of contrZct I’m looking at new data plans which have gone up in cost again, when you add a new handset repayment…. They can keep their new phones. I’m keeping this old one until it physically disintegrates. Phones are just a waste of money, as are home internet plans. Get the absolute minimum you really need and keep your money in your pocket.

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