When should you upgrade your smartphone?

Here's a guide for both Android and iPhone users on when to update your phone

My aunt called me earlier this week asking whether she should upgrade to a Pixel 7 or an iPhone 14.

As someone who was already rocking an older iPhone, I told her to stick with what she knew. However, she had concerns. She complained that her iPhone started to crap out, and she was worried it would just happen again.

“Well,” I asked. “What phone do you currently have?”

“I have an iPhone 8 Plus,” she responded.

I’m gay and a journalist, so the rumour is that I should be very bad at math. However, with just some quick mental mathematics, I realized that her smartphone was more than five years old.

“Aunty, your phone is pretty old; it’s not weird that it started to crap out. It’s time for you to upgrade.” She was shocked and thought that her phone should last longer, but that’s not the reality


  • iPhone users: You can upgrade your device after five years; you don’t have to, but you probably should, especially if you want quality-of-life updates. However, if your device is eight years old, it’s definitely time to upgrade.
  • Samsung and OnePlus users: If you have a OnePlus or Samsung device that launched in 2023, you’re good until 2028. If your device launched before 2023, you should update after four years.
  • Pixel users: Pixel users should upgrade every four years.
  • Other OEMS: It’s a safe bet that you can keep your device for three years. After that, it’s time to update.

What people might tell you

Carriers would have you believe that you should upgrade every two years, with many of the Big Three offering trade-back deals. Every two years, you can get a new device and don’t need to pay the entire cost with trade-back deals. However, like leasing a car, you don’t technically own these devices and must keep them operable. Also, like leasing a car, it’s better to buy, as you can keep your phone for longer because upgrading every two years is unnecessary.

When should you upgrade your iPhone?

I wouldn’t listen to carriers, and you shouldn’t follow what I do either, but take a peek at your phone’s operating system update schedule. If your handset isn’t getting the latest security or OS updates, that’s definitely a sign that you should upgrade.

Apple doesn’t have a clear date when it stops security or OS updates, but the company usually only provides OS updates for about five years — for example, iOS 17 isn’t going to the iPhone X, which came out in 2017. Apple will still support older devices, as the company launched a security update for the iPhone 5s in January of 2023, and the iPhone 6s even got a September patch, and that phone is eight years old. You’re technically good to go as long as you’re still getting these patches.

However, if your phone is over five years old, like my aunt’s iPhone 8 Plus, you’re definitely in the clear; you’ve gotten your money’s worth, and it’s time to think about getting an update. If it’s like the iPhone 5s, which hasn’t been updated since January, you’ve moved from the “Should I upgrade?” to the “You have to upgrade” territory.

Battery degradation might also be a reason for you to update your iPhone. If you head to Settings and type ‘Battery Health’ in the search bar and click on ‘Battery Health & Charging,’ it’ll tell you how good your phone’s battery health is. Your ‘Maximum Capacity’ should be over 80 percent; if not, you’re getting a dramatically lower battery experience than you should. Apple will also have a message on the top that reads:

“Your battery’s health is significantly degraded. An Apple Authorized Service Provider can replace the battery to restore full performance and capacity. More about service options…”

If your phone is one or two years old, this should definitely not happen, and I might complain about it. However, if it’s older, it might be time to update.

If you’re unsure when your iPhone came out or if you’re still getting security updates, you can check it out here. 

When should you upgrade your Android?

Androids are a little harder to discuss, considering each OEM has their own operating system schedule. So, let’s start with Samsung.

If you have a Samsung Galaxy S23 series or newer (so Z Fold 5, Z Flip 5, etc.), you’re covered for four years of operating system upgrades and five years of security patches. I’d say you’re good for a while.

If you have a Samsung phone older than the S23 series, the South Korean tech maker only offers monthly security updates until your handset is four years old. You’ll get quarterly or biannual updates after that. Despite the fact that you’re still getting updates, it may be a good time to think about upgrading. Android devices that no longer receive security updates are more susceptible to bad actors, so you’ll want to make sure you’re protected. You can check out the updates here if you’re unsure when your Samsung device came out.

Google’s Pixel brand, on the other hand, only does three years of OS upgrades, but it does five years of security updates, so I’d say you can upgrade after three years, but your handset is safe for at least five years.

You can check out the updates here if you’re unsure when your Pixel device released.

Other brands like OnePlus and Motorola have similar schedules. For instance, if you have the OnePlus 11 that launched earlier this year, you’re good for five years, with security updates hitting your device every two months and OS updates for four years. If you have an older OnePlus device, it will only get four years of security patches and three years of OS updates.

With Motorola, it really seems to matter which device you have, as it offers between three or four years of updating depending on whether you have a mid-range premium handset. You can check out when you’ll get your last security update on your Motorola device here.

It’s also worth noting that if your Android device no longer receives security updates, but you’re not ready to upgrade, you can look at installing custom ROMs to extend the life of your hardware. Many devices have dedicated modding teams and communities, such as LineageOS, that provide custom software for devices that no longer receive support from the manufacturer. Of course, this is a pretty technical option, so it won’t be the right fit for everyone, but it is an option nonetheless.

At the end of the day if your phone is giving you problems after a couple of years, feel free to update, but if it’s not just follow the guiding above.