Dear Lifehacker, I’m ready to get a new phone, and [insert phone here] looks great, but the [insert other, different phone here] comes out in two months. Should I upgrade now or hold off for the [slightly better phone]? Thanks, Antsy Android
I get asked this question all the time, and while the answer is “it depends”, it’s probably not as hard a decision as you’re making it. Android is rather different to the iPhone because new devices are coming out all the time. As such, there’s always going to be a better phone two months down the road, and if you want to always have the “best phone”, you’re going to be disappointed. A phone will only be the “best” until something new comes out, and you can play the “should I wait” game forever. It depends on why that next phone is “better” than the one that’s currently out.
What Features Are Worth Waiting For?
Generally, a phone is only worth waiting for if it has a major new feature that the current generation of phones don’t have — like a new version of Android. For example, if you’re really stoked about new, polished Ice Cream Sandwich, it might actually be worth waiting for the Galaxy Nexus (due for official Australian announcement next week, though grey imports are already appearing), or any other phone that comes with it pre-installed. Other phones will shift to Ice Cream Sandwich eventually, but you’ll probably still be waiting a while for the update (though you can always get its best features now).
What Features Aren’t Worth Waiting For?
If all you’re holding out for is a slightly better processor, 256MB more RAM, or a few more megapixels on the camera, you’re probably better off upgrading now rather than waiting. As we said before, there’s always another phone on the horizon, and it’ll always have slightly better “tech specs” than the last one — and if you’re always waiting for the best Android phone, you’re going to be disappointed in two months when something mildly better comes along.
If you want a phone through an Australian carrier, I suspect you won’t be seeing too many new models for a while (the Nexus aside). The phones each telco will promote at Christmas were decided months ago. A lot of new phones will get announced at Mobile World Congress at the end of February, and if experience is any guide it will be a few months after that before they hit the local market. So if there’s a phone out there that appeals, now isn’t the worst time. But the principle still holds.
How Much Will An Upgrade Cost You?
Lastly, don’t forget to factor in the cost of a new phone. If you’re on contract, you’ll have to either pay it out or sign up for a new, 24-month extension. Outright buying won’t tie you down, but will cost a lot more up front.
All in all, the decision’s up to you, but in general we wouldn’t worry too much about incremental updates or new hardware that’s only moderately different from the currently available devices. When you’re so annoyed with your old phone that you can’t stand it anymore, go ahead and upgrade. Unless you’re waiting for a major new feature, you probably won’t be missing anything.
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