Apple and other tech firms have been criticized for deliberately making products with short life spans so consumers quickly find them obsolete and resort to buying the latest model. The marketing buzz around new Samsung phones isn’t really significantly different to the way iPhones are marketed and to the Android crowd, the top of the range phones are just as much status symbols as the top line iPhones. If they weren’t seen like that, people would be happy to stick with older, lower spec phones.

I also know plenty of Android users who think that their phone makes them such a badass hacker because they’re not apple ‘sheeple’ which is also not just viewing it as a tool. Conversely many people like my parents like their iPhones because they’re easy to use.
I’m not saying no iPhone user sees their phone as a status symbol but the reality is obviously not as delineated as that ‘study’ suggests.

There are few points which I think might encourage some people to buy a new version:

  • Newer apps that run slow (if at all) on slower phones with older OS versions
  • Missing new features (fingerprint scanner, google assistant, water resistance, etc.)
  • No more security updates (which is actually a huge deal)
  • Battery life taking a shit (granted on an S3 you can still replace it, but they won’t make those forever)

Which makes me think that I use my phone as a productivity tool. I have my work email, my invoicing, I use it to take product pictures, pull pictures and edit them from my DSLR when the phone’s camera isn’t enough, and heavily utilize multitasking. My phone is the single most used piece of technology I own, so it makes sense for me to spend more to have something that will accomplish my needs in the most efficient manner.

Unfortunately, with the speed of evolution on phones, you can’t be as productive on 3-year old hardware like you can be on say, a 3-year old i7 PC setup. And obviously you can’t upgrade the RAM, so you’re stuck with upgrading the hardware.

If all you do on your phone is browse dank memes and text message people, sure, keep a 3-year old phone.

Any high-end new phone nowadays, you can’t-do that anymore. Why? Because everyone’s obsessed with two things. Phones being shiny and glass, and phones being waterproof.

One makes it so if you drop a phone onto an even slightly hard surface it’s going to shatter, and the second is still, really, a gimmick. 95% of people will never ever be in a situation where a phones waterproofing rating is necessary. Just Sony decided to put the feature into their Xperia Z, and since then everyone has decided they need it, despite having no problems at all before.

However, to get those two things, the consumers have quite happily put a big double-thumbs-up to the manufacturers to seal away the one thing that’s going to make the phone more or less unusable in two or three years; the battery.

Well played folks.

If you use an app called Accubattery (for Android, not sure if it’s available on iPhone) that tells you when to charge and unplug your phone for maximum battery life. Really if you just never charge your phone above 80% or discharge it below 20% you can make that battery last for YEARS with very little degradation.

Nobody needs to upgrade their phone every year (with some exceptions I’m sure) and I’d say the majority probably don’t buy every year either.
However.
If Apple, Samsung, etc don’t release a new phone each year with the newest hardware available, tech savvy individuals who are using 4+ year old phones probably won’t upgrade during the “in-between” years where phone lines haven’t seen a refresh. But if Apple and LG upgraded during odd years, while Samsung, and HTC even years, chances are some folks would just buy the newest (read: best) phone and not care about switching platforms, or brands… This is bad for business.
Anyhow, it just kills me when people accuse companies of planned obsolescence when the much simpler explanation is that technology still improves year after year… Especially in the mobile space which has improved at a quite frankly head-spinning pace. In console gaming terms, it’s like we went from the SNES to the PS3 in the span of a single generation… And that’s simply because we were already at that level of power in full size devices, and all that needed to be done (super simple too I’m sure! /s) was to miniaturize the tech.
And of course with new and more powerful hardware you’re going to tweak the OS to do more and better stuff… Unfortunately, that means the 5-year-old phone is going to struggle with it because technology improves that fast, and the various device makers would be crucified if they didn’t allow those updates on older phones. But then people bitch because their 5-year-old phone isn’t a brand new phone.
But no, it’s the device makers’ fault for acquiescing to the demands of the market.

Though also a thing is that many just don’t see actually that development. They call, they message, they may use some apps, maybe play some games… and you end up with people who can’t notice any actual difference from hardware differences, as they don’t use anything that would really make them see that difference. They had already for years nice pleasant experience of using phone, so according to what they’ve experienced so far, that more powerful stuff just isn’t that much needed.