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Knowing When to Upgrade Your Gadgets

Posted by Alex Bailey On September - 3 - 2016

Modern technology is pretty amazing, but I think we can all agree that it comes at a price. One of the downsides of today’s latest gadgets is that they seem to be relevant for only a year or two before it’s time for an upgrade. Whether you attribute that to the never-ending march of technological process, or planned obsolescence on behalf of greedy industrialists, one thing is certain: in a year or two, your smartphone will be yesterday’s news! Here’s some insight that can help you determine when to upgrade your gadgets:


Though we tend to carry our phones with us everywhere we go, tablets are often used for more casual purposes: gaming, social media, television and movies, and perhaps the odd app or two. For this reason, it may be better to wait a couple of life cycles before upgrading your tablet. If you wait three or four years, instead of one or two, you are more likely to see appreciable differences and benefits in your new device. As a rule of thumb, skip model numbers at the very least.


When it comes to laptops, you should always be asking yourself whether it’s better to replace your laptop or simply upgrade it. If you own a Mac, the answer to this question is pretty much made for you. However, many Windows laptops can be upgraded, with everything from RAM cards and hard drives to graphics processors available at affordable prices. As is often the case with these scenarios, you need to balance your needs and your budget. What is it that you need out of your laptop? How best do you accomplish this? Is it more financially feasible to upgrade your current device or simply buy new?


Your smartphone is likely the gadget that you replace with the greatest frequency. With the rate at which phones are advancing (and perhaps even more importantly, the rate at which mobile operating systems require ever greater processing power), it’s not uncommon to replace a smartphone once every couple of years. Some people even get new cell phones each year. But are you also upgrading your plan when you upgrade your phone? Carriers tend to constantly change their plans so it pays to stay up-to-date on your latest options. For example, T-Mobile offers unlimited everything (unlimited data/texting/calling) with no contract required starting in September. Whichever plan you choose, don’t lock yourself in to a contract simply out of habit.


For better Wi-Fi range and stronger signals, it makes sense to upgrade your router every couple of years. This is particularly true now that more and more devices are being supported by routers. A router must not only power your desktop computer’s internet connection, but likely multiple smart devices and streaming devices as well. If you are in the market for a new router, consider future proofing your home by opting for a router with advanced capabilities. Even if you don’t need the capacity now, the odds are good that you will in the future. Routers like Google’s OnHub and Amazon’s Echo are great choices, as they also double as personal assistants of sorts, letting you talk to them as you would your phone.

Game Consoles

For dedicated gamers, knowing when to upgrade a device is often a non-issue: as soon as a new console is released, they upgrade! For the more casual gamer, a good rule of thumb is to make the decision based on game availability. With many (read: all) modern game consoles now connected to the internet, buying games is as easy as downloading them from the cloud. Devices like Nintendo’s Wii even let you download classic games. Though new consoles are technically more advanced machines, you may find that your current console serves your needs just fine.


If you have an e-reader, such as a Kindle, you may want to stick with what you’ve got. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, after all. Of the gadgets on this list, they are the simplest and slowest moving in terms of evolution, which should perhaps come as no surprise. An e-reader with too many features crammed into it suddenly finds itself competing with tablets, so by their nature, e-readers are pretty single-minded. If your e-reader works and you are still able to download and read books on it, stick with what you’ve got.

Nothing Lasts Forever

No, we’re not referencing Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain.” What we are alluding to is the somewhat transitory life of an electronic gadget in the 21st century. A car will last you and your family between 5 and 10 years. Your kitchen appliances might last 20 if you’re lucky. Your smartphone? Well, don’t get too attached to it because it isn’t long for this world. But you can put off the inevitable. Before upgrading, consider whether you actually need to do so. It could save you a fair amount of money over the long run.

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