Do You Waste Money On Cell Phone Upgrades?


Think about the last time you upgraded your cell phone. Did you have to upgrade, or did you get caught up in the shiny glow of a new handset? If the upgrade happened out of pure consumerism, was it a conscious decision? There’s a big difference between shelling out your hard earned cash on a new toy and knowing it vs being made to think you need to upgrade your phone.

Cellphone salespeople will try to convince you an upgrade is a necessity.

I witnessed this over the weekend when my wife and I were in a retail outlet of our mobile carrier to resolve an issue my wife had with her phone. As she was talking to a representative, I overheard a conversation between another employee and customer who had brought his elderly father with him. He explained that his parents both had Galaxy S3’s, and it was time they upgraded their phones.

“Galaxy S3? Dude, how could you let your parents live like that?” said the representative.

Obviously it was supposed to be a joke and in good fun. Sort of. What came next was the expected hard sell of the brand new, top of the line Galaxy S7. As they talked about all the grand features of the phone, the representative also explained the latest in plan packages.

“They don’t really need a data plan, as they don’t use their phones for accessing the internet,” said the son.

The employee went on to explain that all phones must have some sort of data plan, but all I could think of is how this guy was about to waste a ton of money. The upgraded phone would have increased processing power and more memory which would accommodate running bigger and more complicated aps. But, if the users don’t even access the internet with their phones, would they really care? It sounded as if the parents used their phones for…well, calling people. The son was upgrading his parents cell phones simply because, “it had been awhile.” In exchange for a monthly bill of about $60 for two years the man’s parents received brand new phones that for all practical purposes will work exactly the same as their old phones.

“It’s been awhile” does not make a phone upgrade a necessity.

What are some good reasons to upgrade your phone?

  • Malfunctioning : My mother-in-law kept her last phone was in sad shape before she finally upgraded. The screen was cracked, the battery only held a charge for about 4 hours, you had to practically pound on the keys, and it randomly shut itself off.
  • Add Life Value : A new phone may have the ability to run an ap that and older phone cannot, and that new ap would help you organize your life. Maybe it has some new function that you would use all the time. For example, when I got my first phone that allowed me to tether my laptop to it and access the internet while traveling in the car was a glorious one. I was able to access my work email and make riding in a car productive work time.

The customers I was eavesdropping on didn’t need to upgrade their phone. From the conversation I heard, their current phone were working just fine for them. They weren’t malfunctioning, and new phones wouldn’t add any value. Many people like technology and like to have the latest gadgets for entertainment purposes. If that’s you, and you can afford it, more power too you. But it didn’t sound like the man’s parents fall into that category either. They got shiny new phones, a monthly bill, and that’s really about it.

How about you Clever Friends? Have you ever upgraded your cell phone because “it’s been awhile?” Do you look into what improvements a new phone has before you buy it?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • As a former cellphone salesman, I can definitively state that you should never use an ‘upgrade’ ever again.

    What you should do is check your plan once or twice a year to ensure you are on the cheapest plan. Even for the same amount of minutes/data/whatever else, it often drops in price once or twice a year.

    Always purchase a phone for cash, and never buy it through the carrier. Each carrier loads up their phones with bloatware.

    • Great advice, Eric….cell phone plans are always changing – usually providing more value to the customer for less money. Thanks for reading!

  • Sounds like the parents did not even need a plan from that carrier. There are still low cost carriers that carry phone plans for plain old phones, and they are dirt cheap. Trying to sale the parent a $650 S7 is ridiculous.

    • I agree, Emily. Since the old phones were paid for, they could have had them unlocked, then taken them to a “pay as you go” carrier and saved even more.

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