Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
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The Wrap – When should you upgrade?

New phones are on the way, but should you upgrade? When should you update anything? We’ll take a look at the right times to update, plus tips to keep old gear chugging along without upgrades. All in five.

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For the second last week of October 2020, this is The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and with new iPhones out this week, Pixels last week, plus what is genuinely becoming a severe torrential downpour of new devices, it’s time we talk about upgrades.

Updates and upgrades and all the things beginning with up. Seriously, when do you upgrade, and when is the right time to update?

Let’s get stuck into some of the news this week, and then if you should upgrade the gadgets in your life.

Starting with phones, because, yep shock horror, there are new phones this week

Quite a few, starting with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, which this week head to store shelves. The new iPhone models feature a firmer design language with flatter sides, which means the old cases won’t work, plus a new chip, new cameras, and a connection to the world of 5G.

And while we’re not ready with our review — that’ll be next week, folks — it’s still worth discussing whether an upgrades makes sense.

For instance, if you have either of last year’s models, an upgrade may not make sense. The major changes will be a new design and 5G, but the upgrades won’t likely be significant, at least not in a way you’ll notice.

That’s typically true of new models arriving a year after when you first bought them, and possibly two. While the single-camera iPhone XR and double iPhone XS Pro and Pro Max are a little out of date, there may not be ample reason to make the switch just yet.

Phones typically offer a minimum of two years of life, and if you take care of a phone, you can get three or four. A handy tip to making a phone feel and perform a bit better is to each year, back up what you need off the phone, and then reset and restore to factory settings. All those useless apps you don’t need go away, and your phone can go back to being almost as good as it was when you first bought it, save for a little battery degradation.

Once you’re past the two year mark, a phone update starts to make more sense. You’re hopefully upgrading the camera and performance, and maybe even the battery life, plus your needs might have changed.

The same goes for tablets, which typically need a good reason to update. There’s a new iPad Air this week, but upgrading to it may come down to needing a laptop replacement of sorts, because that’s what it’ll be for many.

Computers typically see longer upgrade cycles. You might not need a new computer every two years, and it might be closer to four, so make sure you’re upgrading what you need, because typically, people don’t upgrade everything.

Many people only update headphones when their old ones are broken, but that might be less than ideal, too. Some new phones come without earphones, and so upgrading from the old tired pair you’re still using might be a better approach not just for how your phone looks, but how your ears feel.

If you’re still using the same pair of wired earphones your phone came with a few years back, we’d probably look at an update when you find something that matches what you like the look of, and what you’re also comfortable paying. That’s a big factor.

Other gadgets only need updates when they’re on their way out. That’s the way many of us think when a gadget is large, such as with a laundry machine, a fridge, a TV, or even a microwave.

You’ll know when your white goods are on their way out, because they won’t do their job quite in the same way. A laundry machine may take longer could start leaking, and making some noises you’re not sure it did a few years back. A fridge might not cool your food the way it once did.

And a TV could feel darker than it once did, or you might decide that your TV is fine, but you want something bigger and with a higher resolution.

Or you could even decide that hey, it’s time to upgrade your video game console, because two new models are on the way out in November, with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X.

Upgrading consoles is different to upgrading other devices, because you’re updating specifically to play new games. Some of your old games should work thanks to backwards compatibility, but when you upgrade to a new console, you’re almost always buying because of the new capabilities it offers entirely .

Ultimately, upgrading to anything comes down to a simple thought process: do you need to upgrade, and can you afford it?

It’s a couple of questions that not everyone will answer the same way, and may lead you down different tracks.

If you can afford it, it’s pretty simple, but if you can’t afford it, shop around. If you have a phone that’s dying and you want a new one, but you can’t afford the replacement you want, shop around, because there are loads of options and they might not be as expected as you think.

The same goes for TVs and appliances and computers and sound and so much more, because the democratisation of technology == where companies making technology cost-friendly and accessible — means upgrading doesn’t have to feel like a money-ridden chore, and can be a much more friendly cycle instead.

And that’s it from us this week of The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up. A new episode of the show can be found every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. For now, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.

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