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Smartphone Lifespans: How Long Do Cell Phones Last?

a phone and alarm clock on a table

Considering how expensive smartphones can be, they don't always last as long as long as we'd like – especially without sufficient care and maintenance. While a solid computer can last you three to eight years, cell phones get replaced every three to four years on average.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to extend the lifespan of your smartphone. In this article, we cover the factors that influence your phone's lifespan and provide tips to extend the life of your cell phone for as long as possible.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Phone?

It's totally normal to wonder how long do phones last, especially if you've just bought a new one. The short answer is that while various factors can impact your phone’s lifespan, the average smartphone can serve you well for at least a few years. The functional life of a smartphone depends largely on how it’s used; the better you take care of it, the longer it will last you. 

However, even with the best care in the world, there comes a point when it’s out of your control. Manufacturers will no longer support operating system updates on older models. This includes security updates as well, meaning you may not receive the latest privacy protection software like new models. Most reputable vendors support phones for three years as a minimum, though the recent trend has been for manufacturers to support phones for longer periods of time.

While it’s a good idea to take care of your phone as long as you have it, there comes a point when it just can’t keep up. Once your phone begins lagging and struggling to work as efficiently as it used to, it might be time to consider replacing it. 

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What Influences a Phone's Lifespan?

The lifespan of a phone doesn’t only depend on the length of time you've had it — it's influenced by several factors, including battery health, software updates, and how well you take care of it. 

One significant factor contributing to your phone's lifespan is your phone's battery. As your battery ages, its ability to hold a full charge declines, affecting your device's overall performance. Temperatures can also impact your phone’s battery. Trying to avoid exposure to extreme temperatures can help preserve battery life and internal components.

Monitoring your smartphone battery's health can help you gauge when it might be time for a replacement — if you’ve noticed that your phone doesn’t seem to be lasting through the day quite as well as it used to, this is likely a sign that a phone upgrade is on the horizon.

Another factor is your phone’s operating system. Regular software and security updates are key to keeping your phone running smoothly, as these updates often fix glitches, remove bugs, improve functionality, and protect your phone against threats. However, old phone models may eventually stop supporting the latest updates, which can hinder their performance and user experience over time. 

It’s worth noting that Apple has long been known for pushing out software updates to iPhones up to seven years old. The new iPhone 15 line is covered until at least 2030. Meanwhile, Samsung and Pixel have recently upped their game, pledging seven years of updates for the Galaxy S24 and seven years of updates for the Pixel 8.

Finally, one of the most common events that can kill your phone is dropping it, which can happen at any time if you’re not careful. Protective cases and screen covers can prevent broken screens by guarding against drops and impacts. 

One common misconception is that the number of apps on your phone plays a major role in its lifespan. While overloading your phone with apps can lead to slower performance, the number of apps doesn’t affect how long your phone will last. If you want a quick performance boost regardless of age, we recommend deleting unused apps and managing your data storage to help maintain optimal performance.

How Can You Extend Your Phone's Lifespan?

It’s natural to want to make your phone last a little longer – after all, especially if you got a premium model, you probably invested a significant amount of money in it. Regardless of your phone's brand or model, there are several steps you can take to prolong its lifespan:

  1. Use a Protective Case and Screen Protector: These accessories protect your phone from physical damage, such as cracks from drops or scratches from everyday use.
  2. Avoid Heavy Usage: The lifespan of your phone can be significantly shorter if it’s used frequently for demanding tasks like gaming or streaming high-definition videos, which can strain the battery and the processor.
  3. Keep the Operating System Updated: Regular software updates often fix bugs, improve functionality, and secure your phone against potential threats. Ensure your phone's operating system is continuously updated to the latest version.
  4. Maintain Your Battery Health: Avoid letting your phone battery completely die before recharging. It's also good practice to keep your phone's charge between 20% and 80%.
  5. Avoid Exposure to Extreme Conditions: Extreme heat can damage your phone's battery and internal components, while moisture can cause corrosion. Keep your phone in a moderate, dry environment as much as possible.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your phone lasts as long as possible, giving you the best return on your investment.

When Should You Consider Getting a New Phone?

Knowing when to upgrade your phone can be tricky. Here are a few signs that it might be time to consider getting a new phone:

Declining Performance 

If your phone is constantly freezing, crashing, or running slow, it could be a sign that its hardware is struggling to keep up with the latest software and apps.

Poor Battery Life 

If your phone can't hold a charge for very long, it might be time for a new phone even after you've tried all the tips to improve its battery life.

Lack of Software Updates 

If your phone no longer receives software updates, it's definitely a sign that the manufacturer no longer supports that model. This can leave your phone vulnerable to security risks.

Physical Damage 

If your phone has a cracked screen or a faulty charging port and is not worth the repair cost, it might be time for a new smartphone.

The Bottom Line

Understanding your phone's lifespan is essential for making informed decisions about when to upgrade or replace your device. Remember, the lifespan of a phone is influenced by factors like battery health, software updates, and how well you've taken care of it. 

If you’re ready for a new phone, let Navi help you. With our Phone Deal Finder, you can compare hundreds of options in seconds, find the perfect device, and plan to fit your needs. 

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