Upgrade Fever – Smartphones and Tablets and Laptops

Oh my..?   Yeah, I’ve noticed you only catch it if you want it…

Ever since the release of the first iPhone in 2007, there seems to be an annual hullaballoo that’s expected to take the world by storm. Every August or September, we’re expected to sit in front of our computers, drooling on our F5 keys as we wait for the guy at the other end of the keynote to update his live blog so we can see the latest version of Widgets on Parade.

Apple does it every year, and it’s become the gateway into the Holiday buying season.   Every major electronics manufacturer from Apple to Samsung has some sort of great product whose-whats-it that’s designed to create upgrade fever with that manufacturer’s fans. They also hope to win over nearly everyone else, too.

There’s one thing that I’ve noticed over the past few years, especially with Apple and the iPad.   It’s important to note too – especially right now – just 8 or so calendar days from Black  Friday  (or the day where most retailers sell enough stuff to take them and their balance sheets into the black for the year) because it may really dictate where you put your dollars:

You don’t have to catch upgrade fever.

I’ll say it again – You don’t have to upgrade your iPhone if you don’t want to. There are a few reasons why.   Most of them are common sense, but they may get lost in all of the excitement surrounding the new hardware release.   Let’s take a quick look, though.

The hardware is less than a year old

I think it’s actually amazing. I really do. Apple is a great example here, because they’ve been able to not only do this successfully, but do it consistently as well, to the point where their stock price will fluctuate if the iDevice announcement is delayed or doesn’t happen when the press expects it to.

But let’s take a quick look at not only the iPad Air, but the iPhone 5S/5C.   The iPad 4 and the iPhone 5 are just now out of factory warranty, if you got one on or near launch/release day 2012. I got my iPhone 5 on 2012-10-22. That means that as of this writing, my iPhone 5 is not quite 13 months old…and there’s not a bloody thing wrong with it.

Let’s leave aside the fact that I treat my gadgets very well and all of them are in pristine condition.   I’m likely the exception, there. However, unless you’re drop kicking your phone or tablet across the room at any and every opportunity, there’s very little chance that you’ve worn out the hardware. While this isn’t 1950 blah-blah-blah, things don’t wear out THAT quickly. Unless your very hard on your device, then it likely hasn’t gotten enough wear on it to justify the purchase of a new device to replace it based on use.

In fact, a whole new industry based on certified used devices or device resale has been created based on Apple’s annual product cycle.   Businesses like Gazelle, Amazon’s Used Device Purchase Service came about because of Apple’s rapid hardware update cycle.   Even Apple and the wireless carriers got into the game.   However, you need to understand that you’re going to take a bit of a hit on is resale value. The “depreciation” after only a year is a lot more with these companies than you might experience if you sold the device privately.

However, simply based on your device’s age and its condition, it’s still very usable. Getting rid of it just because the new version is now available isn’t always the smartest financial decision either.   Which brings me to my next point…

Only the guy on the uninsured motorcycle is actually made of money

Let’s face it – iDevices are expensive. The high-end cellular iPad costs nearly as much as an entry level MacBook Air.   An entry level iPad costs as much as a mid-range notebook or desktop. These things aren’t cheap.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford a new iPad every year. I’m not even certain I would want to buy a new one that often. Given the (potential) high cost of entry, keeping up with an annual, hardware refresh cycle isn’t realistic…unless of course you’re “financially independent.”   At the end of the day, I know I’m not that uninsured guy riding a motor cycle, littering the highway with $20’s.   Whether I wanted to or not, the point is moot. Buying a new iPad every year isn’t in the cards for me; or most people, for that matter.

Your Use Case probably hasn’t changed

When I bought my iPad, I bought it for a few specific reasons – I want to watch movies. I want to watch TV shows and I want to read eBooks.   These are “lean back” activities that I will likely do for quite some time with that device. In short, my needs haven’t changed and likely won’t for quite some time.

As the needs haven’t changed, I haven’t found the need or justification to upgrade my device.

Conclusion

I purchased an iPad 1 in December of 2010, and it’s been working very well since I put it into service. That device is perfect for what I want to do with it, and I likely won’t need to replace it unless and until it breaks or my use case changes.   The iPad 2 is still available for purchase at $399 USD.   It’s got almost twice the processing power as the original iPad, and is also thinner and lighter. If you have a similar use case in mind and want to buy “new,” an iPad 2 is likely your best iDevice of choice. If you’re going to do more with it – perhaps light computing or image editing – then an iPad Air or iPad 4 might be a better choice.

However, just because its older, doesn’t mean that it can’t do exactly what you need it to do.   This is true for nearly any and every electronic device available for purchase in any market today. Figure out what you want to do, and then find the best device to meet that need.   If your needs are like mine, then you may not have to have the newest device out there. In many cases, the original one you purchased can still meet the needs.

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