Guest Post: When Should I Buy a New Cell Phone? 7 Signs You Need a New Phone

One big problem with modern technology and smartphones is they become outdated rather quickly.  You can pick up the latest iPhone or Android device and it will be obsolete in 6 months. We’re using more apps on our phones to perform different tasks. The most common signs you need a new phone is when your phone is getting old and it can’t perform the most basic tasks. The most logical solution is to upgrade.

When cell phones first came out, they were bulky and expensive. You would pay nearly $1 per minute for talk times, so they would be dedicated to emergencies only for most people. We’ve come a long way with technology and now, you can find a smartphone anywhere. It’s become difficult to even find a flip-phone without going online.

But how do you know how often should you replace your phone?

Here are the top reasons why an upgrade may be in your future. Remember, upgrading your phone is typically not a necessity, but more of a want. We want the latest technology, the biggest screen, and the fastest phone—we just don’t need it!

7 Signs You Need a New Phone

1. The operating system won’t update

Apple has a new version of their software, iOS, often. Android does the same thing, but just name it after different dessert items (i.e oreo). Either way, software gets updated in the fast-paced world of electronics. Most new phones are compatible with the upgrade and keep on functioning. Some older phones might not see the upgrade at all. Over time, your software version might just become out of date. It can become unstable and often times, insecure.

Unless you know how to get into the technical details of your phone, it might be time for an upgrade. Newer phones come with the latest software versions, tested and developed with modern conveniences.

Sometimes it’s only possible to get these new software upgrades if you have a phone that can handle them. This is when you would need to look into a phone upgrade.

2. Your apps don’t work

Along the same lines as the operating system, your phone uses apps to provide functionality. Most people have a slew of apps installed on their phone. From the latest version of Angry Birds to the Facebook app. There are so many apps for both Apple and Android smartphones—it can be mind-boggling at times.

With newer phones, you need not worry as much with regards to compatibility. That’s not the case with older phones. You may come across an awesome app you want to try, but during the install, you find it won’t work with your phone.

Apps depend on your operating system, along with memory and storage capacity to work. When your phone doesn’t have much RAM, has a slow processor, or an outdated operating system, you can kiss that app goodbye. You just wouldn’t be able to use it.

To keep up with the latest and greatest apps, you would need to upgrade your phone. There are luxuries to having a new phone!


3. You need a faster phone

Processor speed is often one of the most overlooked aspects of phone buying. It’s the case because most people have no idea what a good processor is and how fast one should run.

If you don’t know, then ask someone. That would be your best recourse to making sure you get a phone with an excellent processor. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is supposedly the fastest phone on the market, but it has a custom-built processor. Many phones, such as the Moto X4 use Snapdragon, which is an excellent and fast processor.

When in doubt, always look for a phone that runs a quad-core processor instead of a dual-core. There is going to be a good price difference between the two, but your performance will be much better.

If your processor is slow and underpowered, you’re going to have a tough time using the phone over time. Processors get bogged down with many open apps, constant connections, and extended use. This is all magnified in an older phone with a sub-standard processor.

4. You need more storage

When your phone’s storage starts to get full the phone’s performance can become sluggish. We all take tons of pictures and download new apps to our phones frequently. If your phone doesn’t have the necessary capacity to support your usage it’s a good time to upgrade. Newer phones have much larger memory options, some up to 512 GB.

5. You have a bad camera

In the age of Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, a good camera is a must-have. Taking pictures with our phones has replaced the hand-held digital cameras, which were so big some years ago. Once Apple came out with their iPhone, the camera landscape has changed.

People are more focused on using their phones and the camera integrated into them. It’s much quicker to pull out your phone and snap a picture.

One of the biggest complaints among smartphone users is the varying degree of camera specs. Remember, it’s not always about the increase in megapixels that makes a good picture. The phone has to handle light, focus, and a myriad of other factors. With phones using 16+ megapixels in their rear cameras and nearly 5 megapixels in the front, there’s no surprise cameras are becoming a big selling point for smartphone users.

If you have an older phone with a subpar camera, you can’t just replace the camera. They are integrated, so you would need to upgrade your phone. If you need your camera to produce quality images, then you have to find a phone with an excellent camera. Read reviews online and check out the many online phone reviews. These will give you the scoop on which phones have the best cameras.

6. Your battery won’t hold a charge

This is something I’ve dealt with personally over the last few years. When smartphones first came out, the batteries were easily replaceable. You could remove the back cover and buy an aftermarket battery and pop it back in. The cost was negligible and compared to buying a new phone, it was the right choice. Unfortunately, the times have changed a bit.

More and more phone manufacturers are creating phones which are completely sealed. This means you can’t access the battery or components without breaking the phone open and voiding your warranty. This spells trouble when your battery starts to lose it’s holding capacity.

Most standard phone batteries are about 2100 – 2300 mAh. While this number might not mean much to you, the next part will. These phone batteries are becoming non-removable. This means when your battery can’t hold a charge, you have to upgrade your phone.

There are still phones being made with removable batteries, but they aren’t as advanced or fast as the newer phones. If you are looking for water resistant, then it’s going to be sealed. The newer iPhones all have sealed batteries as well as many Android devices. This forces you to purchase a new phone when the battery can no longer hold a charge.

7. Your screen is brokencracked_screen

A big factor in upgrading is when your screen is broken. It’s hard to use a phone when you can’t see the functions necessary for basic functions. Let’s get real—screens break! You might accidentally drop your phone and the screen cracks. Many times the phone is still usable, but as the crack gets bigger, the annoyance factor increases.

There are some services out there to repair cracked screens, but depending on your phone and how much you paid for it, sometimes it’s logical to just upgrade your phone.

Only you can justify getting the screen fixed or looking for a new phone upgrade. Many use the broken screen as a catalyst for change and upgrading your phone can be just that.

Where should I start?

If you’ve run across any of these reasons to upgrade your phone, then how did it end up for you? Some years ago, you’d have to drive down to the local cell phone provider’s store and talk with a salesman. If you were under contract, you’d have to pay a premium or for a phone outright. Now, with the slow removal of contracts for all cell phone customers, you just need to have a little phone upgrade savings account funded.

If you buy an “unlocked” phone, then the price can vary. Republic Wireless customers get some of the best phones at excellent prices. If you’re with some other carriers (why would you?), then you’d have to pay full retail. This can be upwards of $800 for some phones.

The true balance when looking to upgrade is finding function and price that align with your goals. The lower priced phones are great for starting out, but they can’t handle many apps or multitasking. Don’t even think about using their cameras. The highest price phones give you the cream of the crop, but you certainly pay for it. Take your time researching phones and find one in the middle. They’re still excellent quality and can save you a bundle!




About the author: Grayson Bell is a finance blogger and proud Republic Wireless member. His weekly articles on how to save money can be found at:

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49 thoughts on “Guest Post: When Should I Buy a New Cell Phone? 7 Signs You Need a New Phone”

      1. Didn’t mean to imply that you sell used phones, just that the phones you do sell are obsolete (not modern, etc…)

      2. We like that you offer a low end and a medium grade phone, but there are some of us that really want a higher end phone like the 3rd gen moto X

  1. Talk about adding insult to injury! You have a lot of nerve adding a post like this when you have no phones to choose from.

    1. Hi Charles, depending on where you are in your “cell phone journey” the options we have right now could really be an upgrade. But we are also anxiously awaiting the chance to offer new devices for sure.

      1. Are you kidding? I just switched to Republic Wireless last week. I bought the best phone you offer (moto G gen3) it only has a 5″ screen and 1GB of RAM. I’m really having a hard time adjusting as I’m used to a 6″ screen and 3GB of RAM. I almost regret switching, but I just had a significant life change that is very expensive so I’m cutting costs anywhere I can. If I could have brought my Motorola Nexus 6 with me I would have loved to.

        1. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble adjusting to your new screen size. I suggest taking a look at this Community post: it’s a discussion about the 1GB of RAM. Also, browsing Community and talking with other members that have the same phone may be helpful for you.

        2. Sounds like RW is saving you some good money at a time that is needed. I left big cell to save a tremendous amount on costs at the sacrifice of ease and technology sometimes and it has been worth it so far.

        3. First World Problems… Sounds like you should be more grateful as you now find yourself needing to be more frugal.

          1. “First World Problems”…yes you’re correct. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to ignore it. In fact I just bought a Moto Z which is AWESOME!!!

    2. I’ve been with RW about 5 years now. SS fixed income. I get almost as good a service for $30.00, 2 phones, as my son that spends $180.00. It just keeps getting better.

  2. It is certainly time for Republic to release an updated flagship phone. Since now the Moto X 2nd Gen isn’t listed on the site, I hope this mean that this article will be followed up with an announcement.

    1. They still support MotoX, 2nd Gen but they don’t sell it. The new one is Moto X Pure. Look at the specs. It’s a good step above the MX2. I have a MotoX 2 and am looking forward to upgrading.

  3. Sure, but go easy, nobody has gone to RW for the fastest/newest/sexiest phones. I went from over $250/mo on my old plan to under $75 now. Decide what your phone needs to do… I just bought a Moto G3 to migrate one line off of Spotify and excessive streaming (can you say teenager?) and onto an SD card full of music to cut 4GB/mo. Then all 4 lines will be on 2.0 Plans and I’ll be under $65.

    1. Same here Bob, I was paying $230 a month! I can’t believe I found that reasonable looking back. I also realize now that I never needed that much data so I was just throwing money away.

      1. I switched from Project Fi where I was paying $25/month and I had the awesome Motorola Nexus 6 phone, now my bill is $15 but I’m stuck with the MotoG.

        1. The move from the Moto X1 to the Moto G3 was pretty easy our case. The G3 recognized the 32GB card and gives her tons of room. The big change is the music. If she must have Spotify, she’ll have to cough up the $9.99/mo. I think she will be an Amazon Prime member by the end of the month with the Prime music available for download (plus movies/TV + fast shipping + free book/month) all for less than Spotify Premium.

          The other issue handled with the G3 – no need for insurance, the phone was only $199!

  4. All of RW’s current offerings are NOT sealed, and have removable backs, yet the batteries are not replaceable.
    My current RW phone (moto X) is sealed, but has no water resistance rating. My last one (Defy XT) had a removable back (and replaceable battery) and DID have a water resistance rating.

  5. I’m not much on new laws, but I do think there needs to be one that mandates a user replaceable battery in every rechargeable device sold in the US.

    1. Hi Iren, we’re sold out of the Mot X (2nd gen.) and we won’t have anymore. Motorola is no longer manufacturing this version of Moto X. Stay tuned for our new Best phone!

    2. Hi Iren, we’re sold out of the Mot X (2nd gen.) and we won’t have anymore. Motorola is no longer manufacturing this version of Moto X. Stay tuned for our new Best phone!

  6. I had to make sure this wasn’t an April fools joke. While I found the article to be written well and full of helpful tips, it left me more irritated with RW. Those basically described my phone that I have from RW and the phones that are available for purchase are even worse than the phone that I have. The cost savings with RW are nice but the phone was already at least a year behind when I purchased it. I also used to like the plan that was offered, I do appreciate the heads up and knowing that I have until August to find something else. I’ll also be able to sell my X2 to someone looking to get RW and it will feel like an upgrade to the current offerings! I really wanted to like RW and had high hopes for the service when I started. Great job RW with your sense of humor on this article!

    1. We are working really hard to offer new phones, we promise! We also understand it’s frustrating in the meantime. Hopefully we’ll be able to give you an irresistible offer that will change your mind about finding another carrier.

  7. No. No. No. I have to agree with the consensus of the commenters. Republic Wireless may be the best provider out there, but that doesn’t absolve it of the need to provide its customers with a reasonable MODERN/CURRENT TECH high end phone. Offering phones with default 16GB storage is pitiful. Even having some of the phones with a 32GB SD card capability isn’t enough – you’re lucky if half your apps qualify for the move to the SD card. I’ve stated elsewhere that I’m not one to glut my phone with tunes and video, so pity the poor individual who does. My 16GB Moto X 1st gen (signed up with RW as soon as they had an acceptable phone) is full of apps, and I need to expand. Their new high end offering MUST have a greater than even 32GB default capability AND a LARGE screen. I’ll leave the other details up to RW, although it would be difficult to find the phone I describe with a poor performance CPU. As I understand the need for RW secrecy about their up and coming offerings, I can only hope that the new one meets my criteria.
    Regardless, RW is a great service with great people. I just really hope they come through on this. I had to get a free Freedompop account and a $139 Galaxy S4 just to assuage my tech addiction! BTW, with the Verizon backup RW uses for voice, there’s no comparison in coverage – Sprint alone is not enough.

  8. I’m hopefully a full year away from an upgrade, running my X2 here. It’s great, but I’m relying on the phone more and more, and when I upgrade, I’m going to want CHOICES! High end, super-duper models. Big (screen, memory), Fast, Smert (d’oh).

    Right now, RW is a compelling plan. I’m saving money, because I’m on WiFi nearly all the time. I haven’t been able to convince friends & family to try it, however, because most of them use a LOT more (cell) data. For me it’s good, though.

    BUT… come upgrade time, if the choices basically suck, then the monthly savings won’t look nearly as good.

    Get cracking, Republic team.

  9. Let’s take this one at a time.:
    1. Screen Is Broken – No new phone… fix it. 50 bucks in most malls, 15 to do it yourself.
    2. The Operating System Won’t Update – Legit, for security reasons.
    3. Apps Won’t Work – No new phone … Suck it up. Get by without the app or find an alternative, you did before the app existed.
    4. Slow Processor Speed – No new phone … It’s the same as when you bought it.
    5. Bad Camera – No new phone… it’s the same as when you bought it.
    6. Battery won’t hold a charge. – No new phone… fix it. 50 bucks in most malls, 15 to do it yourself.

    So the reality is, if you’re worried about security, and can’t get the latest updates, then get a new phone. Otherwise stop being a whiny entitled brat. So… in summary..

    “Guest Post: When Should I Buy a New Cell Phone? 1 Sign it’s Time for an Upgrade” There… fixed that for ya.

    1. Agreed. I’m still running Moto X 2013. It was my first smart phone, and I’m totally satisfied with it until it functionally fails.

      1. Really? All malls I’ve been to in Florida, Texas and NJ in the last 5-10 years have a kiosk somewhere where a guy replaces batteries, screens, and home buttons, as well as sells thousands of different kinds of cases.

    2. Great Correction !!! The upgrade notice was for me and like-minded people. I’m frugal and I’m one of the late adopters that they are trying to motivate to update phone/plan. I am still on my first phone from RW and it suits my needs.

    3. Allen, I tried having the battery replaced in my gen 1 Moto X. The shop told me that Motorola put so many different types of batteries in the Moto X’s and that Motorola installs the batteries so that you cannot read the battery model to make sure they can replace it.
      Motorola told me that they cannot find the proper battery # so I can have it replaced.
      Republic Wireless said that they don’t know the proper battery # and to call Motorola.
      Any suggestions?

      1. Sounds like that particular place was more afraid of damaging the NFC antenna, which is a valid concern. Here are some help:

        Looks like the RW MotoX is the XT1049 model number (from wikipedia) a bit of google foo lands me this battery:,Arpp~12,A~Part+Number&Nrpp=10&Ntt=motorola%20cell

        Yours may be differen’t check the about phone section for the exact model number, then google it up.

        And this guide to replacing it.

        Appears this battery is a bit on the expensive side… but still way cheaper than a new phone. You could do it yourself or order up the battery and take it to a shop for them to replace.

        Batteries are not magic… as long as the connector fits, and it’s the right size… it should be fine. There are many types of batteries, but I’ve not found two that have the same size and same connector but are incompatible. Besides, if you’re going for a motorla replacement battery, once the phone is open it will be obvious the one that will fit.

        Good Luck!

  10. 7. Republic Wireless dumps their refund plans and cheap phones. Check out Mint Sim. $21/month (if you buy a year) with 2GB 4G data and unlimited slow data after that. Bye bye Republic.

  11. does republic have any phones that motorola made, decent price, with removable battery? only problem iever have had is battery replacement. not able to replace, i wont buy. tell me

  12. Nice article, but left out one thing: Upgrade when your cellphone company goes out of business and closes its website!

  13. If the battery no longer holds a charge and the phone is out of warranty, it seems a prudent move to first attempt the battery replacement rather than upgrade to a new phone … and at RW that means a new plan which interestingly enough might cost more than you’re now paying.

  14. You should add “Provider keeps pushing back updating certain now older phones to the latest OS version” to ‘2. The Operating System Won’t Update’.

    BTW, that would be the Republic version of the Moto E (1st Gen).

  15. For issues on #1, #5, #6: fix it and avoid creating more unnecessary e-waste! I’ve fixed camera and battery (and a couple other minor issues) on my moto X 1st gen which is still going strong 3+ years later, with an expense of just $40 parts.

  16. I have a Nokia “candy bar” phone from about 2003. I talk on it, I text on it, and I don’t annoy people by taking pictures all the time.

  17. Do I need to plan on buying a new phone every 2.5-3 years?
    I have a 1st gen Moto X. It cannot hold a charge for more than 10 hours. It has built-in battery and I cannot replace the battery. I originally hoped to keep this phone for 4-5 years
    The only phone in the new line-up with a replaceable battery is the Galaxy J3. However, I would like a phone with a better camera.
    Are the new built-in batteries any better than the one in the Moto X? Spending $400+ every couple years seems so wasteful.
    Any suggestions?

  18. You do understand that this article is flawed? Right!?!

    1. I have the Moto E 1st gen updated once and never updated again.
    2. Slow speed and Apps go hand in hand. Newer apps = Slower speed. More Apps on = Slower Speed.
    3. The Camera was always bad. Nuff Said.

    Even though the Moto E 2nd gen came out it’s pretty much the same thing. This article is misleading and fails to address something most people really know: If it’s not broken and it still runs and it hasn’t been 5 years. Don’t Replace It! It’s just a waste of money…. Last 3 phones of mine 5 years each. Saved THOUSANDS! If you like wasting money then by all means.

    PS- I’m at my limit on this one already…

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