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Wednesday Poll: How Often do You Upgrade Your Phone?

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With so many great choices out there for phones, it is easy to want to constantly switch up your daily driver. Unfortunately, buying phones is not cheap off contract. Couple that with the fact that carriers have many customers under contract with high termination fees, the process is made even more difficult.

Since the last time we ran a poll asking about your upgrade habits, all sorts of new programs through carriers which help customers upgrade phones more frequently have been introduced. They vary depending on carrier, but most require little down as long as you are willing to split up the cost of the phone over a certain number of monthly payments.

Here at DL, we are pretty content with purchasing phones outright, leaving us with the ability to throw in whatever SIM we choose, which means we don’t have to worry about contracts. This is one of the reasons we love Nexus devices so much – they are so no-contract-friendly.

Regardless of how you do it, we want to know how often you upgrade and/or change your phone out for a new one. Are you a flagship hopper, jumping from the latest of one OEM to another? Or do you stick with a phone for a couple of years at a time.

Once you answer the poll, feel free to go into more detail about the process you go through when upgrading/changing to a new phone.

How often do you upgrade your phone?

View Results

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  • JGLives

    Usually, I just wait until my phone is broke. Order of phones:
    Nov 2005 – First cell phone (third year of college)
    July 2007 (lost/stolen, she tried to transfer my number to another account)
    May/June 2012 (flip-phone, broke in half)
    May/June 2014 (first smartphone! The cost of my plan would not change even with a data usage).

    Now that I have a smartphone (Nexus 5), I’m going to wait as long as I can before getting a new one. Though Android L looks good, the longer I wait the more polished the overall features are.

  • AndTheWorldMayNeverKnow

    Stuck with the Galaxy S3 for 2 years now I have the S5, that was the first time I had done that for a long time. I used to upgrade every year but phones weren’t nearly as good as they are now. Depends on what your needs are but unless they come out with some spectacular jump in a years time I’ll probably stick to every 2 years from now on.

  • Aaron C

    I always try to wait two years, but usually can only last one. Galaxy Nexus was my last contract phone, with Verizon. Went to Nexus 4 on T-Mo, then Nexus 5, and will buy the Nexus 6 as soon as I can get it, mostly for the bigger screen and hopefully band 12 for when I travel.

  • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

    Im on my 3rd phone in like 4 months. I just love new stuff!

  • Disqus_n00b

    Buying phones is MORE expensive on contract!

    Off-Contract you can recoup ~75% of phone value after 1 year, and spend on next phone. Only the first off-contract phone is a lot up front.

    On-Contract, after 1 year you still owe $240+ and after 2 years your phone is close to worthless.

  • Colts5609

    Was not going to upgrade my Nexus 5, that is until I recieved my OnePlus One invitation. I imagine I will have my OPO until the Nexus 6 comes out, and so on and so forth.

  • Simon Belmont

    Tough to say. It used to be every two years when I was on Sprint (contractual obligation, etc), but now I’m on T-Mobile which makes it a breeze for me to pop out the SIM card and throw it in another phone.

    I started on T-Mobile last summer with a mint pre-owned Galaxy Nexus, and then grabbed a Nexus 5 when that came out (it’s my daily driver, which I plan on using for quite a while). But, I’ve also been playing around with WP8.1 on a Lumia 521 here and there, and I even felt super nostalgic and threw my SIM card into a T-Mobile G1 for a week (retro style!). So, I guess the answer is “as often as the spirit moves me” for the article’s question. I like the flexibility.

  • kyle

    how about yearly but without any subsidies. aka nexus comes out or something thats in the $300 – $350 range with good specs I’m in

    • Aaron C

      Exactly what I have done as well. Not intentionally, just worked out that way. Now waiting for N6.

      • kyle

        I dont see why you wouldnt do it yearly because the year old phone sale gets you that new one for 150 – 200.. thats what people pay for their part of the subsidy.. I’m on a tmobile family plan with 7 people and pay 24 a month for my 3b LTE line. What’s getting me now is i kind of want the tmobile version of a phone for wifi calling and better network support but I refuse to pay $600 anything for any kind of phone. Tmobile needs to figure out a way to get our nexus phones officially supported for wifi calling and any other tmobile goodness they roll out.

        • Aaron C

          Totally agree. Upgrading Nexus devices has been easy due to the resale value (as you mention). I briefly had a Note 2, but hated TouchWiz, and the only way you can get WiFi calling is with a TouchWiz-based ROM. Why T-Mobile doesn’t offer WiFi calling on all devices is beyond me. It’s not a cure-all, but it would go a long way toward pleasing customers until they roll out that low-band spectrum.

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    Historically I’ve gone 2 years because of the “discount”, really until the last year (slightly longer for T-Mobile) you did not have a cheaper cell phone bill if you brought your own phone.

    Now I’m on a plan that is cheaper and doesn’t include a phone subsidy. I ran the math and even if I buy a brand new flagship phone every 2 years I should come out about $200 ahead with the new plan but if I can make my phone last longer than that it’s even more money saved.

    My current phone is an AT&T Galaxy S4 running a GPE ROM. The 2 year mark will be up on it next spring but I figure it will be easy to keep it going for longer than that. Depending on what phones come out next year I may hold on to it until 2016.

  • http://www.gotgmovie2014.com GOTG Movie

    Whenever I Think So :)

  • XvierX

    I think I’m going to finally make the switch to T-Mobile. I have a grandfathered unlimited data plan with Verizon but the advantages aren’t enough to keep me as a customer anymore. T-Mobiles coverage has become faster than Verizon 4G in my area too. I always planned on selling the line but it’s a hassle. Plus T-Mobile will pay my ETF anyway. This post was just another sign that maybe I should jump ship. Lol

  • BoFiS

    And by “whenever I see a new phone I like” that means I haven’t in over two years since NO ONE has made either a decent sequel to the Droid 4, or a SMALL phone that has good specs that would be worth upgrading to without sacrificing on screen resolution or size since I do not want a huge, giant phone.

  • JRomeo

    The people who sell last year’s nexus, and then buy this year’s nexus (and are on that cycle yearly)….. do not fit into ANY of the poll answers !

  • hkklife

    In the smartphone era, probably the longest I had a phone was a Palm Treo 700p, which I unhappily rocked from June 2006 to April 2008, when it was replaced by the 755p (basically the same phone but with a slightly sleeker design) which was replaced with a launch day OG Droid. Since then I’ve rotated pretty regularly through a combination of swapping upgrades on lines, buying full price and buying used—-Droid 1, Droid X, X2, Bionic, RAZR Maxx, Galaxy S3, Note 3.

  • Jeff

    Upgraded whenever I got tired of my phone and there was a better option. With the Moto X though, I haven’t had a desire to get another phone, and with the news that it’s getting Android L, I’ll likely be using it for quite some times yet.

  • http://www.scaryuncledevin.com/ Devin Rodriguez

    I upgrade my phone when my wife drops hers and I give her mine.

    • Aaron C

      That has happened a couple times in our household as well. :)

  • Jim Davis

    Moto Droid -> Galaxy Nexus -> (Left Verizon) -> Nexus 5

    On AIO Cricket wireless and couldn’t be happier with the service and phone.

    • Joshua Rewerts

      Ditto, but won a HTC One M7 GPE (from this site, thanks again Kellex!) or would’ve gotten the Nexus 5. Have some trouble with battery life lately as AIO–>Cricket doesn’t have the strongest of reception in my apartment. Also, I don’t plan on upgrading too soon, as I suspect/hope Android L will come to the M7 GPE. It’s more where “a new stock Android phone that I like” meets “my current phone becomes ‘inconvenient’ (read: slow/broken/no longer getting OS updates)”

    • Aaron C

      Wow. Pretty close to mine too.

      Moto Droid -> Thunderbolt (god help me) -> GNex -> Left Verizon -> Nexus 4 -> Nexus 5 -> Nexus 6, um….

  • Jeff Martin

    Needs to be a “when I need to” option. I went from OG Droid (broke) to a Droid Charge (UGH!) to Galaxy Nexus (Left when it was left behind) to Moto X

  • Cael

    My contract is up with Verizon so now I’m on a whenever I see a phone I like and can afford it.

  • zroid

    every two or more years when Budget allows.

  • Scott

    Based on those poll results, some readers have plenty of money. I can’t and nor do I personally know many who can drop that kind of cash on every new electronic gadget.

    • http://embracing-the-obvious.tumblr.com/ ChristianPasquariello

      They probably don’t have it, but they drop it anyway. Lol.

    • Aaron C

      I have been buying outright, just about every year, and usually manage to recoup about 75% of the Nexus phones I’ve purchased once I sell them and get the newest. So it’s not quite as bad as it appears. Of course, the Nexus devices are usually quite a bit cheaper than the brand-name flagship devices.

  • Shadowstare

    Let me start by saying I wish I was not locked into a contract at all. But since I am, I wish the price of my plan would drop after I pay off the phone. But its not, so I might as well use the upgrades the carrier is offering.

    I would say that I upgrade every to years, but not with a “cheap upgrade”. That term makes me think of a phone the carrier is offering for like a dollar or a penny. I upgrade every two years to the best flagship phone that fits my needs, which usually costs somewhere between $150 and $200. Is the price cheaper than an un-subsidized phone, Yes. Is price cheaper than other phones the carrier is offering, not even close.

  • Jason Kahn

    The better option for me on this Poll, would have been when I see a phone that is a significant enough update over my existing phone.

  • Matt

    seems to be about every two years, but not because of any upgrade shenanigans… still have unlimited data on VZW

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    Annually off contract.

  • http://www.daverobertson.me Dave Robertson

    Whenever I fancy something new, but usually 2 or 3 times a year. I’ll get the Nexus device in November and then HTC’s latest in the Spring. However, in the past year I have had four Nexus 5s and two Moto Xs too…. went a bit wild :S

    Being on a £20/month all-you-can-eat-everything from Three means I’m not paying loads for my contract which helps.

  • Higher_Ground

    Droid X in 2010
    Gnex in 2012
    Moto X+1 in 2014
    ————–
    So far I’ve managed to wait the full 2 years, but both phones got really long in the tooth about 18 months in. It didn’t help that I bought the gnex in summer 2012 so it was already half a year old. Honestly that’s what’s kept me from getting the current moto x… I’m probably not going to buy any phones older than 6 months if I plan to use them for a full 2 years again.

  • Brett

    I’m still using my Droid RAZR MAXX, It’s running CM11 and I’m starting to consider a new phone/carrier. CS guy at AT&T was impressed at how quick it still was.

    • Brett

      Not that the CS Guy at AT&T is the gold standard, but if someone who looks at the latest and judges how “quick” it is for a value judgment, then that’s not bad in my opinion.

      • needa

        the cs guy probably uses an iphone. in which case even the ti-omap in the droid would be considered quick with decent animations.

  • chris_johns

    I honestly think two years is a good timeframe for a phone(esp with newer phones 2013+)…gotta love those moto x’s in that pic standing out from the crowd…honestly a big fan of my x i played with a g3 i nkow the specs should blow away my x but the actual usage didnt…and i felt it was far to big for my liking…nice phone though if i didnt have my x id be that phone or the m8 which i actually liked better…i still feel my x can easily hang for another year for the 2015 bad boys…might need a replacement though mine took a dive in a hottub…twice…after being split open blow dried and put in rice open for 12 hours she lived but not without a few bugs lol my vibrate is dunzo and my active notifications are super glitchy lol

    • needa

      next time get a ziploc bag, throw your phone in it and cover it with rubbing alcohol. shake for a few secs. take out of bag. shake out to dry. let sit ten minutes. profit.
      hate to hear that your x is messing up. i just rma’d my x for my camera issues. they are sending me a ‘like new’ phone to replace. i would give it a shot if i were you. it was fairly painless using their chat system. the only pain is getting a refurb rather than an actual repair. no credit card needed blah blah blah. get to keep my phone until the new one arrives.

  • Reficurg

    It’s more like “Every 2 years, what’s the next top of the line?”

  • Mordecaidrake

    I basically upgrade when there’s a phone released that I want and when there’s an upgrade available in my family plan. I have to cheat the system on Verizon in order to keep my unlimited data.

  • mcdonsco

    Often:

    OG Droid
    Droid X
    Droid X2
    RAZR
    RAZR Maxx
    IPhone 4
    RAZR Maxx HD
    Galaxy S4
    HTC 8X
    Nokia (Something? VZW Win Phone)
    Galaxy Note 2
    Droid Maxx
    Galaxy Note 3
    Moto X
    LG G2
    IPhone 5s
    Galaxy S5
    HTC One M8
    Moto X (again)
    LG G2 (again & current phone)

    • needa

      what is the one you miss using the most?

      • mcdonsco

        None really that’s why I’m back on the g2 (best of currents for me); but I have yet to find the perfect phone.

        I’m wanting to slow my addiction a bit so rather than jumping on the G3 now I’m waiting to see what moto, apple and sammy bring to the table.

        Plus, being the g2 is about a year old now, its not going to be the usual $100+ to swap this time…going to cost me $300+ this time so want to see all options first.

  • Scott Van Maldegiam

    Still have Droid Razr and it still works. I have no plans to replace it now that I limit background processes to no more than 4, turn off WiFi when away from home, removed microSD card and a few other tweaks. Reboot problem is significantly reduced. Only happens once every week or so if I forget to reboot after a few days. I don’t feel like upgrading my phone and paying a ton of money if my current one still works.

  • Joe Zollinger

    T-MO jump is the greatest thing ever… Except they have yet to carry the Motorola phones.

  • redlantern

    A new unlocked flagship phone every year. Have galaxy note 3 just about due to be updated….courtesy of a contract Optus don’t do any more and no way I am letting an unlimited data and untimed contract like this go.

  • malforpresident

    I would usually stick to a 2 year schedule but by chance my last few upgrades were sooner than expected. I upgraded to a galaxy nexus (used off ebay) to keep my unlimited data on verizon. But only a year later I ‘upgraded’ by switching carriers. I got a couple of nexus 4s last summer to switch my 2 lines to T-Mobile. Then in May my wife dropped and cracked her screen on her nexus 4 so, being limited on available cash at the time I got a nexus 5 on JUMP. Come to think of it I got the galaxy nexus before the 2 years were up on my Droid 3…so perhaps I’m just a junkie who upgrades every 10 months.

  • ClickFire_

    I swap phones with people usually every 3 months or so to try out the latest but after getting the Nexus 5 5 months ago and having the most plesant software experience I think I will just start buying a Nexus every year instead.

    • Aaron C

      Every time I try another phone, I end up selling it and back with a Nexus after a month or so.

  • billy

    I don’t think any of those 3 options quite explain it for me. My wife and I have been free from a 2-year contract for about 9 months now, and we’re both still really happy with our phones (Nexus 5 for me and a Moto X for her). I think our goal is to keep our current phones for about 2 years anyway, mainly so we can feel like we got our money’s worth, but we can change our minds whenever we want and we don’t have to worry about contracts or carrier upgrade promotions anymore.

  • http://embracing-the-obvious.tumblr.com/ ChristianPasquariello

    2 years droid x on verizon, then 15 months with Htc DNA , then switched to Edge with a white G2 since they offered it. Will upgrade yearly most likely.

  • paul_cus

    About every six months or so.

  • Mike Kubik

    Buying flagship phones off cycle by 1 year to keep Unlimited VZW. So, this year I sold my S3 for $225, then bought the G2 for $320, so the phone costs a net of $95. Next year I’ll sell the G2 and probably get the G3. If VZW screws any more with the unlimited data, I might jump ship to Cricket. Curious to see if companies like One Plus One can deliver in the next few months.

  • http://www.naskaras.com/ Thanassi Karageorgiou

    Verizon Unlimited, Full Retail roughly every 18 months. My aging S4 might get the retirement if Moto X+1 is a hit.

    • hoodieNation

      My S3 power button just crapped out on me two days ago. So now I’m using my wife’s old S3 while she’s playing with her new G3… I’m jealous but I’m waiting to see what Moto has in the next month or so.

  • Haha

    Uhm, where’s my “When the phone is no longer usable” option? Not all of us care about upgrading

  • Nyght

    Someone help me here, since I guess I don’t get this. I’ve always bought subsidized phones. Never considered anything else. I have enough money to buy phones outright. So if I did that, what does that do to the cost of service? Do I have to tell Verizon I bought it? I know the phone itself would supposedly be cheaper overall, but what else happens?

    • jimt

      On verizon you don’t save by buying the phone outright. That is the problem. Verizon includes buying the phone in the service charge for data so you pay for a new phone even after you pay for a phone that is on contract. The price never goes down. On Tmo or At&t the price of the data is less now without a contract because they took buying the phone part out of the data price. Verizon didn’t do that. So with verizon you pay like you are buying a new phone all the time, even if you are not buying a phone. That $600 phone only costs $100 and a 2 year contract. You still pay $600 for the phone but it’s buried in the data costs. and again when the 2 years are up, you keep paying the same for data like you were still buying a new phone, forever.

    • needa

      i buy off contract (gsm) and pay 50 a month with taxes ($101.50 for two lines), have to share 2gb data, and am on at&t themselves. for the last year though, i have been using straighttalk. that was 45 a line ($50.76 after taxes), unlimited data (throttled after 2.5gb), using at&t as the carrier. meaning straighttalk pays att for me to use their towers. the thing i found using straighttalk is that my calls, texts, data, etc all had to run through a separate straighttalk server. thus adding in a second or two for anything i wanted to do. straighttalk also had issues with mms on iphones.

      in a nutshell if you buy a gsm phone, you can take it to att or tmo, or any of the mvnos (such as straighttalk) that run off of those two networks. i get dropped calls on tmo, none on att unless i am talking to those on tmo or sprint. an off contract sprint phone is also an option. it is cheaper than any of the other mvnos. but then again… you are on sprints network. if you are looking to save money… Ditch Verizon Immediately.

      • jimt

        I don’t think you can beat Ting for cheapness (Ting is a sprint mvno also) If you really want CHEAP.

        • needa

          i have looked at ting a bunch. waiting for the day that i can byop my gsm. i literally have one friend in the nashville area that uses sprint. i bet i drop a call with him one out of three times. it sure would be nice though to get those savings. i would go from fifty to thirty five a month. thus paying for my tivo service.

          • jimt

            I have Tmo unlimited and actually think it is cheap enough. I have never had a call drop by the way. The unlimited is truly unlimited with no slow down. It is faster than Verizon.

          • needa

            i did the test drive. i would have much rather done it on an android phone. i did not like how i was always bouncing around from 2g to 4g to lte, and i wanted to use the wifi calling. i did drop one call out of the few that i made. the coverage maps said i had excellent strength… but i ended up being on one to two bars of edge when inside my house. which sits in the middle of my 65k peep nashville suburb. i got blazing speeds when i was on the interstates downtown though.

          • jimt

            Love Tmo but they do need to grow their network. I don’t mind how they are now though. The size of the network is what is holding them back from truly great.

  • Me

    Wherever I find a deal. Haven’t seen the perfect phone for me yet so I’ll bargain shop till that day comes. Hopefully I can get a Moto X for under 300 so I can sell this N4.

    • Higher_Ground

      hmm it’s 299.99 right now, every so slightly under 300!

  • WickedToby741

    Whenever I feel like it. Going contract free is great!