How Do You Decide When It's Time To Upgrade?

Recently I've been faced with a conundrum: Do I upgrade my smartphone or trade in my notebook for a younger model? I've tossed both options around before, but not quite as frequently as I have over the last month. Maybe it was the iPhone 5's release that made me realise my iPhone 4 is now considered "low-end" by Apple, or the fact the my Dell M1330 sometimes struggles to contain my browser. Whatever the catalyst, it's got me scouring forums, stores and reviews in an attempt to justify my upgrade cravings.

Upgrading for me has mostly been out of necessity in the past, rather than having the latest shiny available or working on some fixed upgrade cycle. I still use my M1330 notebook from 2007 to do my blogging activities and I don't see myself swapping my iPhone 4 for a Galaxy SIII or iPhone 5 in the near future -- it still makes calls and connects to the internet. When my laptop has encountered technical troubles, I've been inclined to buy spare parts and just repair it and upgrading the CPU and RAM has worked wonders keeping it afloat.

But I am now starting to max out its 4GB of memory more often than not and while the thrifty IT guy in me is yelling "Just buy some bigger sticks you fool!", I've found myself eyeing off potential suitors. The UX32VD i7 has had my attention, mostly because it combines an excellent screen, light weight, upgradability and discrete graphics in a nice chassis, but looking at what's on the horizon and seriously considering my needs, I can wait another three to six months to see if another contender appears.

There's a thread over on Notebook Review forums (awkwardly) entitled "Thin and Light 11-14 notebooks gaming worth compendium" that looks like it was written specifically for me. In it, I'm finding myself partial to the specs of the Fujitsu Lifebooks.

Obviously, if you have the disposable income to blow a couple of thousand dollars a year on the best gadgets, that's a different story. For the rest of us, we have to be more considered with our spending.

So, what factors are the most important when you're trying to decided when (and what) to upgrade? Desire? Need? Frivolity? Peer pressure? Let me know.

Image: Thomas Kohler / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0



    I'm still using my Nokia 3310 or 3315 or whatever the model here is called.

      I had one of these when I was on job probation last year. Had to give it up for a Blackberry when I got off probation, I'm sure it was a hand-me-down but boy, do these things last!

      It'll probably still be here after the nuclear holocaust.....

    New technology and depending on how much time it's been since I've had my previous stuff... like Computer is usually every 4ish years, phone is 2-3 depending on how long it lasts. Or if it's something really cool and new, I'll get it.

    simple you take a look at the current state of your tech, your needs right now and where tech is currently heading. For example my HP lappy is crap but there's no point in me getting a new one right this second cuz i have a desktop and intel haswell (different socket type) is being released in under a year making it impossible to upgrade if i get one now.

    Upgrading needs vary for me, and I tend to hold on to things for longer being a pensioner. My phone is a Nokia 6233 which I got in 2007. It still does all I need because I'm not a heavy caller and don't play games. I have an Mac iBook, the original "icebook" that still works after ten years if an external screen is connected; the laptop screen only died this year. My main computer is a G4 Mac Mini. This past year has seen me doing more "beachballing" than ever. Flash is a nuisance and I usually run a G4-tuned web browser, TenFourFox. The Nokia connects via PhoneDirector. Basically my use of these devices is limited to surfing, emailing and word processing. The heaviest task is streaming video. It's surprising what you can get by with if you have limited needs.

    What a timely article,
    I've been thinking about trading my wife for a younger model!

    When the old thing breaks, if it can't be fixed (or at least not particularly easily) then it's time to upgrade.

    I was using my Nokia 8250 up until January 2009 when out of nowhere the microphone stopped working any no one could hear me any more. I looked around on eBay a bit and saw there were some replacement boards that seemed like they could possibly fix it... but Dad had a 6100 lying around that wasn't being used, so I just bit the bullet and upgraded to that instead. The battery was starting to go recently, would only last for a couple of calls before dying or would otherwise be down to one bar within a day or two. Bought it a new one and now everything's peachy.

    Been running the same computer since the middle of 2003, in the earlier years it seems to have gotten some upgrades that I never knew even happened (Dad doing stuff while I wasn't around), but the latter half has pretty much been left to me. Had a few issues with graphics cards going funny along the way, the most recent one having overheating issues or something. Threw a new one in and it's all good now, though the fan on it makes a godawful noise whenever you power it up.

    ~$40 for a new graphics card is much easier than several hundred for a new computer :P

    Boredom and a generation leap are the reasons I upgrade. I'm kind of like you I have a 4 year old computer that works and i cant justify upgrading especially when i have an ipad & a desktop. I'll probably upgrade once windows 8 comes out and get an ultrabook. But phones I wish we could upgrade them yearly, I ding my phones up pretty quickly and my home button has been broken on my iphone 4 for about 5 months now. There is no way I'm going on another 2 year contact at $70 bucks per month when tpg is doing better plans at $18 per month. better off buying a phone outright at harvey norman and putting it on an interest free card over 24 months.

    I think I was the last man on earth to own a mobile, now I feel like upgrading every year.

    I generally get a new phone when my contract expires but I update my laptop as often as I can afford to. When a good lappie cost $3000 or more, that was every two years (I had an M1330 four laptops ago) but now that they are so cheap, I am on an annual cycle. My Zenbook will be replaced before the end of this year.

    We've had the same home PC (desktop) for 9 years now. Regular upgrades in terms of RAM chips have been done, but it is basically unusable for me given how slow it is, but is used by my parents on occasion (especially since it is the only PC directly connected to the printer). It is running Windows XP, and given that neither of my parents is particularly tech-savvy the windows updates (and microsoft office updates) have been languishing on that thing. We also have a laptop which has been with our family for about 7-8 years now, but given the number of dead pixels across the screen no one uses it anymore.

    For me, mobile device upgrades are mainly a matter of choice of network. Nowadays most mobiles are quad/penta-band 3G but until recently, most 3G mobiles (and smartphones) would not work one different 3G networks, especially if you were switching from Optus to Telstra (or vice versa). So when I switched from TPG to Telstra I had little choice but to upgrade my HTC HD2 (overseas 3G model, not the Telstra one) to the Samsung Galaxy S2; mind you the phone was kinda dying on me as well.

    Also, I don't think there is much point in updating mobile devices these days as we've kinda stagnated in technology innovation (hence it being more about evolution, rather than revolution). So for me now the only reason to upgrade would be if my phone somehow died, or if there were a particularly compelling reason to do so (e.g. a new phone with one week battery life and the ability to act as a dedicated gaming device as well)

    It's upgrade time now... I get complacent. I get attached to the tools I have because the work method is comfortable.
    I'm tossing up between a custom built desktop monster or getting a nice ultrabook and gutting and rebuilding my main desktop into a custom monster (love the case so I don't want to lose it), once I'm comfortable with moving my work practise over to the new computer.

    I've left it so long because I was looking for the perfect ultrabook at the right price... which was basically the Samsung Series 9 i7 with 8 gig of ram... but the availability in my part of Aus is stupid, and the online sellers who have it at a decent price are untested. Far, far easier to get a macbook air, but I dislike them so very much.
    So maybe the UX32VD i7 is a better option?

      Well I finally took the jump and got the Samsung Series 9 from a well reviewed online seller for a good price. Hopefully it's all it's cracked up to be!

    Know how you feel. I'm running a 3gs, nothing wrong with really, abit jittery with some apps, but have a strong desire for a new one. Nokia 920 or Samsung GS3?

    I used to upgrade phones whenever my contract was up just for the sake of it seeing as they were all the same back in the day but now seeing as their changing so much these days i'm struggling to keep up, need to make a 6 month contract.

    If something is either totally outdated or at end of life. Usually I'm fortunate enough to have that happen about the same time. Unfortunately I bought a WP 7.5 which will be totally outdated pretty soon within 6 months of phone launch...

    Good luck Logan with getting anything for your 5 year old Notebook as a trade-in.
    I doubt you'd even be able to sell it eBay.

    My iPhone 4 is just out of contract, and I have been thinking about if I should upgrade. I remember when I got the i4 was because I was using an e71 after handing back the iPhone 3GS that my previous job issued me as a work phone. The e71 didn't do music as well, nor maps. It struggled to do what I was doing on the 3GS. I guess for me it comes down to what features I am after and of the device can do what I want. A friend showed me her i5, and I drooled over it, but in reality, what does it do that my phone can't? Those things are features I don't need or want at the moment, so I am holding off upgrading.

    dude, don't let that M1330 go. Gorgeous laptop. Sometimes wish I'd kept mine, just for the odd time I need one.

    I upgrade my phone every time apple release a new model number. (Joke)

    I have a 3 year old macbook pro 13", I've updated the drive to Samsung SSD and chucked 8GB of ram in it, so really the only holding it back is the 2.26 C2D processor, was looking at upgrading but not sure I would notice much difference for the office applications and general browsing etc, that its used for. Might just wit until it dies. Also if you look after them and don't drop it the aluminium MBPs don't really age. Few scratches on the bottom that's it.

    I upgrade my iPhone and iPad every year. I'll be getting a Lumia 920 at some stage and plan on upgrading that yearly as well. My laptop is a 3 year old ASUS n61 which I will replace eventually when it dies but I don't really use my laptop for much besides being a HTPC and I'll be getting a Surface Pro for general note taking in lectures at uni anyway. The beast desktop rig I alternate each year between upgrading CPU+mobo and GPUs. One year CPU and mobo will get upgraded the next year GPUs will get upgraded and so on. The rest of the rig gets upgraded as required.

    My MacBook Pro is from November 2008, and I chucked 8GB of RAM into over a year ago and it's still powering on.

    About to throw a 240GB SSD into it, so hopefully I can get another year or more out of it. Thing is a truck.

    Still rocking a 4 myself, but that will change once the Lumia 920 arrives. My 4 just loses reception too often now.

    Last edited 09/10/12 2:32 pm

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