Does it still make sense to upgrade to a new iPhone every two years?I do not think so

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Patrick Holland / CNET

We all know drills. NSApple’s annual fall event is approachingMany of us will start checking in to our previous two-year smartphone plan in September to see if they are eligible for the upgrade. After all, the latest phone is just the latest phone for a long time.Even a discerning shopper like me needs serious willpower to resist the temptation. Purple iphone Also 1TB storage..

Mobile operators have long persuaded many of us to upgrade their smartphones every two years, linked to free or low-cost phone upgrades to continue the two-year upgrade cycle2. We offer an annual contract.Or Feeling Earning just a few hundred dollars (or less) for the latest and most luxurious phones available has helped to perpetuate the rise of virtual two-year phone upgrades.Good example: AT & T and Verizon sell for “free” iPhone 12 For customers who purchased an unlimited plan last year and signed a multi-year contract.And that This year’s iPhone 13 trade-in was even better..

But even if it may still be the norm in the United States, regular upgrades aren’t important to much of the world.

I was born and raised in developing Asia. In this region, buying a smartphone is not a two-year upgrade, but economically unattainable for hundreds of millions of people. In India, the average person needs to save two months’ salary to buy the cheapest smartphone available. Published survey By an alliance for affordable internet last August.In my view, if the phone doesn’t change, it tends to upgrade regularly every two years that Many are privileged and remind us of the income inequality and the ever-growing digital divide.

read more: Billions of people still can’t afford a smartphone: it’s a big problem

Beyond that, and perhaps more specifically, I think we should consider the environmental costs of buying a new phone. You read the headline: Climate change is accelerating rapidly. Countries around the world continue to set new records for maximum temperatures.. Climate-related disasters are on the rise like never before, the Arctic cap is melting, and biodiversity is disappearing faster than we can save. To be precise, what happens to all these discarded phones over time? Can all that plastic be completely disassembled?


Apple says it has removed the included charger from its iPhone 12 lineup for environmental reasons.


read more: Apple is opening up the world of iPhone recycling

Household appliances are responsible for large amounts of e-waste each year, which contributes to the climate crisis. Experts warn about how e-waste disposal contributes to climate change Due to the chemicals released when the waste burns, some of it corresponds to carbon dioxide.

For years, developed countries like the United States have shipped recyclable waste abroad for processing. It’s starting to change now, but it has real costs. iPhone contains toxic substances Improper disposal, such as lead and mercury, can be harmful to the environment and people. Also, in many cases, e-waste is not properly managed. In southern China, there is a town called Guiyu, which has become known as the world’s largest cemetery for American electronic junk and has become synonymous with environmentalists for toxic waste. Last year, the world dumped a record 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste, according to the United Nations 2020 Global E-waste Monitor Report. Of these, the United States is the world’s second largest contributor to e-waste, dumping 6.9 million tonnes.

read more: I paid $ 69 to replace the iPhone battery: this is what happened

Apple is working on a net-zero supply chain by 2030, but it’s hard to argue that there are better alternatives to reducing carbon consumption than reducing consumption.After all, Apple iPhone 12 end-to-end supply chain It releases 70 kilograms of carbon into the atmosphere. Even if one million people wait for that extra year, they can prevent 70 million kilograms of carbon from being released into the atmosphere in a year. Imagine if it was 10 million or 100 million. Before you do that upgrade, you need to think about it.

The smartphone upgrade cycle has become longer

Despite the attractive deals offered by carriers, the upgrade cycle seems to be long.Some in recent years Report Show that Americans and Europeans are happy to have their cell phones for long periods of time. In fact, in 2019, smartphone upgrades hit record lows for two major US carriers, Verizon and AT & T. Carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon seem to have responded by offering monthly plans that offer more flexibility and options, potentially from the “standard” of two-year phone upgrades. Shows a deviation.

I think this trend continues for a variety of reasons, except for the big picture, such as the global economy struggling and environmental awareness rising as the pandemic continues. Today’s phones are receiving software, so security is updated.For example, the 2015 iPhone 6S iOS 15, May weaken the desire for a bi-annual upgrade.

In addition to all this, smartphone innovation has peaked and the industry is demonstrating what is maturing. The slowdown in smartphone sales growth and the slowdown in the evolution of what we need and want. There is no big surprise here. Today’s phones have more convenient improvements than the awe-inspiring innovations seen just three or four years ago.

Narrowing technology gap

Until a few years ago, smartphone makers sat us at the edge of their seats, waiting for the next design update. But that is no longer the case. In the iPhone 12 series, 5G was probably the most talked-about feature. Not surprisingly, the upgrade supercycle was triggered.But what’s most exciting about CNET for many of us MagSafe, This is almost nothing new. With Apple’s unique technology Magnetically snaps the attachmentWas first introduced on the first-generation MacBook Pro about 15 years ago. It was then reintroduced on the iPhone 12.

Comparison of Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 cameras

Patrick Holland / CNET

If you look at what has changed since the iPhone 11, you’ll see the regular suspects in the list. 5G, OLED screen, new design. Sure, there are some things you won’t find anywhere, such as MagSafe or Ceramic Shield, but nothing really special. Personally, the last time I was surprised by the iPhone announcement was when Apple announced the iPhone X in 2017. This set new design standards for the modern iPhone. The iPhone X has abolished its predecessor’s physical home button and thick bezel, giving way to a sophisticated futuristic device that inspired the iPhone 12 family. It was also the first Apple to unlock the iPhone using Face ID, Apple’s facial recognition technology.

Looking at the iPhone 13, the story sounds familiar. We knew that there would be no major technical upgrades (It didn’t stop what we wanted). Thanks to Apple for the upgrades it gave the phone (small notch, big battery, fast screen refresh rate), The iPhone 13 “has no fundamental difference.” According to CNET’s Patrick Holland. In addition, many of these new iPhone features, such as the 120Hz screen, are now present in Android smartphones, strengthening the concept of reducing the technological gap in the smartphone world. Apple itself says The typical iPhone life cycle is now 3 years.. Therefore, the company is timing new releases accordingly. three It’s been a few years, not two years, with more minor updates in the meantime.

Just look for the most glamorous non-Apple flagship launch of the year to find clues: Samsung Galaxy S21 family. Here, the notable changes were made to the price tag, which is probably the most interesting feature, not the hardware or software. NS S21 lineup The starting price is $ 800 (£ 769, AU $ 1,249) This is $ 200 Less than From last year’s $ 1,000 Galaxy S20, Will be an attractive deal.

Apart from that S21 and last year’s S20 Most were incremental. I remember when I picked up Samsung’s virtual Unpacked event, I had to dig into the specsheet to find a noticeable difference. Improvements have been made to regular suspects such as processors, software and 5G. This may have been part of Samsung’s response to the global coronavirus pandemic, but it still adds credibility to the idea that the technical gap is closing.It was also interesting to pay attention to Items dropped by Samsung from S21 Flagship family to meet its low price.Say goodbye Expandable storage, bundled earphones And the most notorious Inbox chargerAs Samsung followed Apple’s lead-obviously in the name of the environment.

read more: This is what we all know about Samsung’s Galaxy S22

Also, think about why you make the S21 an attractive purchase. Perhaps a crisp display with a good camera, fast performance, battery life, and a narrow bezel is at the top of the list. But the truth is, the 2019 Galaxy S10 boasts all these features.From Heck, Galaxy S7 Five I did that many years ago. My point is that the annual changes have become too gradual, especially against the backdrop of rising smartphone prices, forcing most people to urgently upgrade.


Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.

Angela Lang / CNET

Are we at the peak of smartphones?

I’m not discounting foldable phones. Samsung and Huawei have made undeniable technological advances, and their winding phones can dramatically change the way smartphones are used and represent the future of the industry. However, foldable phones are far from mainstream. US phone makers and carriers have moved their most innovative devices to prices that most people can’t afford. for example, Galaxy Fold 3 Starting at $ 1,800 (£ 1,599, AU $ 2,499) Huawei Mate X2Currently available in China, it costs nearly $ 3,000 ($ 2,800, £ 1,985, AU $ 3,640 equivalent). Folding phones could continue to be a niche product until these prices reach the same price as the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, for example.

Smartphone innovation is stagnant, and it’s not a knock on consumer electronics companies or the tech giants who design them. It may have reached the peak of smartphones, but this is a necessary range. That may be part of the reason why the competition to upgrade your phone is slowing down. Does it still make sense to upgrade to a new iPhone every two years?I do not think so

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