Despite how expensive smartphones can be, they last for a shockingly short time. While a solid computer can last you three to eight years
, a smartphone often taps out after just two.
This has been the norm since the flip phone days, and cell phones have always had short lifespans. But why hasn’t technology improved in the decades since cell phones were invented?
The truth is complicated, but luckily there are plenty of ways to extend the lifespan of your smartphone despite these norms.
What Impacts a Phone’s Lifespan?
Numerous factors can impact a phone’s lifespan. One self-evident thing that can kill your phone is outright breaking it.
Studies have shown that smartphone users drop their phones an average of four times per week
in the United States. This means that our smartphones are at constant risk of being shattered and rendered unusable.
There are many other ways people break their phones as well. People can drown their phones in water, accidentally download a virus, or just lose them entirely. Human error is a significant problem concerning cell phones, and it is important to take care of them if you want them to last.
Another thing that can shorten your phone’s lifespan is overusing the battery. Once a battery dies, a phone becomes unusable, and many smartphones do not have batteries that you can easily remove. Instead of battery replacement, many people opt to get a new phone.
Should You Replace Your Phone?
The question many people have is, show you replace your phone when it begins to die? The answer: not always.
In the old days, replacing your phone made a lot more sense. The technology behind a flip phone was a lot less complex than modern smartphones. These devices could access the internet but were not full-on miniature computers like today's phones.
The trade-in system was also completely different. After a couple of years, you could automatically upgrade to a new phone, and the price would be integrated into your monthly payment plan.
Modern smartphones are too expensive for this; instead, consumers spend a lot more whenever they need to get a new phone.
As a result, upgrading your phone can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth financially. Consumers are replacing their phones less often than ever
, both due to increased phone longevity and increasingly high prices of the devices.
There has also been a public shift away from replacing your phone quickly that stemmed from a famous issue called “Batterygate.”
What Was Batterygate?
Batterygate was a series of lawsuits against Apple for throttling the lifespans of their phones. Investigators found that Apple was actively causing phones to work slower when their batteries were low to avoid unintended shutdowns and crashes.
This led customers to believe that their phone could no longer complete the processes necessary to keep the phone running, but in reality, the battery was just running low. People learned that they could pay for a replacement for $30 and have a phone that ran like new.
Public outrage ensued, and Apple ended up paying $113 million
in the aftermath. In the social shift that followed, many people were less keen to give up perfectly good phones in a world where smartphone prices seemed to increase daily.
Now that we know this, we can consult our local cell phone repair company or the manufacturer of the phone to see if all we need is a battery swap. If that is the case, we can significantly increase the lifespans of our phones.
What Are the Environmental Concerns Around Smartphones?
Smartphones have a significant environmental impact due to how many get thrown away yearly. There are 4.5 billion smartphones in active use
, and the ecological impact of all those phones being disposed of could be tremendous.
Recycling smartphones can be a big help in this department. 95% of smartphone emissions are made in the manufacturing process, and limiting the number of smartphones we need to create without limiting the number of people with one in their hand at any given time can be a big plus.
As discussed thus far, another essential thing is to increase the longevity of our smartphones. If we replace them less often, we might dramatically reduce the waste produced by smartphones per year.
A smartphone that lasts four years instead of two can help in the push to halve waste caused by smartphones.
The main hope is that these manufacturers will make their smartphone manufacturing process greener. Regarding sustainability, the corporations themselves often have the most significant impact.
What Are Some Other Ways To Extend a Phone’s Lifespan?
While Batterygate opened our eyes to one big way we can extend our phone’s lifespan, there are more ways to do it than just replacing your battery.
Another way to extend battery life is to ensure you aren’t overcharging your phone. Leaving your phone plugged in for hours on end while fully charged can lead to strain on your battery, necessitating a replacement sooner than you would like.
Another vital thing to consider is keeping your phone updated. OS updates smooth out glitches and performance issues, and sometimes our phones slow down just because they run on an obsolete OS version.
It is also helpful to clean openings and ports as often as possible. These openings are prone to collecting dust, and if enough accumulates, it can start messing with the phone's essential functions.
Taking care of our phones should be seen the same way as taking care of a desktop computer, and cleaning is a big part of that.
Lastly, getting a case can significantly reduce your chances of getting a new phone. Phone cases are becoming safer and more advanced by the year, giving you some wiggle room when you have those clumsy moments.
All these are things you can do to improve your phone’s lifespan, but there is another surprising factor that can be a good indicator of how long your phone will last.
How Should You Choose a Smartphone Brand?
Studies have also shown that brand name dramatically impacts how well a phone will last on average
. While repairability and interchangeable parts are essential, at the end of the day, the best indicator for a phone’s maximum lifespan is the brand behind it.
For example, between Apple and Samsung phones, Apple phones tend to last about a year longer than the competition. Even though the technological advancements have been comparable, the hardware and software in Apple phones simply last longer on average.
This revelation may encourage other phone brands to also increase the lifespans of their phones with new hardware and software upgrades.
Phones have a short lifespan, but that doesn’t mean we have to get rid of them every two years. Doing so can have significant impacts on the environment, and it can also be a substantial financial strain.
Instead, we can replace our batteries, keep our smartphones clean, and continuously update our phones. Taking these steps can add years to the life of a smartphone, which can be a significant weight off your wallet.
When it does come time to get a new phone, consider using Navi
to choose the right one. Navi can analyze your preferences to help you find the right trade-in programs, repair options, and new plans
Navi can give you access to industry insights that help you make informed and financially sound decisions about your smartphone
Use Navi today to pick the most sustainable option for you.
What is the Average Lifespan of a Computer? < Tech Takes | HP.com India
Americans drop their phones AT LEAST four times a week | New York Post
Smartphone users are waiting longer before upgrading — here's why | CNBC
When it Comes to Smartphone Lifespan, Brand Name Matters More than Hardware | Yale
Getting Smart About Sustainability: Smartphones And The Environment | Forbes