The conveyor belt of new cell phones is relentless. Although I generally keep up to date with Apple’s new releases (moreso out of interest in their product line generally, rather than due to a fixation on the iPhone’s evolution specifically), I would definitely not be able to tell you what their competitors’ latest phone offerings are. There are just so many different brands all producing new iterations on (what appears to be) an annual basis. But this isn’t the only reason for my lack of interest. Even with the increasingly high spec and glossy new iPhones, I just don’t see the point in upgrading the phone I currently have.
So what cell phone am I currently using? Drumroll please (and prepare your confused face), it’s a Blackberry KeyOne. Yes indeed, the phone manufacturer which you thought was dead did in fact rise like a baby phoenix for a little while to produce a few more phones with physical keyboards. As a big fan of buttons and being in desperate need of a new phone around about the time that the KeyOne was first released, I picked one up. Despite a valiant effort, these things didn’t seem to catch on this time round, either, so Blackberry appears to have thrown in the towel with producing handsets for a second time.
Brand name aside, the phone is effectively just a generic Android touchscreen phone with a (super cool) physical keyboard. I picked it up new in June 2017, which makes mine just a little over 3 years old at the time of writing. I realise that a three year old phone isn’t the oldest thing in the world (it’s not quite an LG KS360, which, yes, I also bought because of the buttons), but by comparison to the insatiable frequency of upgrading many of my friends partake in, my KeyOne is positively prehistoric.
So why am I not thinking about upgrading yet? The phone companies are certainly keen to know the answer to this when I renew my cheap contract at the end of each 12 month cycle. So to repeat what I tell them when asked whether I would like to hear of possible upgrade options, I’m still happy with the phone I’ve got, thanks. Let me elaborate:
My Phone Has Shown Minimal Decline in Performance
One of the main reasons I picked up this Blackberry was for its battery capacity. At a hefty 3505mAh, it dwarfed the equivalent batteries within iPhones available at the time. My focus on battery capacity was actually prompted by the poor battery life of my previous phone, the iPhone 4. The battery on this phone would last perhaps a few hours of use before being totally wiped, which was not ideal when I was out of the house for work for 12 hours+ each day. To be fair to it, this iPhone had been a second hand phone, so it may well have had a rough life before I got it. Regardless, I didn’t want to have to deal with the hassle of a phone which couldn’t make it half way through the day from a full charge, hence why I was so focused on checking battery specifications. The KeyOne battery truly was a revelation by comparison, breezing through a full day of intermittent use with plenty left in the tank by the time I plugged in to charge each night.
Surely though, after three years of daily use you’d expect that even the chunky KeyOne battery might have taken a bit of a nosedive in health and not hold its charge so well these days? Well, surprisingly, it’s still really good. Obviously, as I use the thing every day my view is not objective as I will inevitably just acclimatise to any deterioration in the battery as it happens, but, overall, the battery is still pulling through more than a day of use with data and all apps running no problem.
Performance-wise, the phone itself is still swift and responsive and it continues to multi-task without issue even with all of my most-used apps open at once (mostly Spotify, my brokerage app, Seeking Alpha, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and Audible).
Having said that, the phone is no longer perfect and a few minor issues began to surface around a month or so ago. For instance, when I began storing perhaps a little too much Spotify offline-download music and getting toward the maximum storage capacity of the phone, it would “glitch” intermittently. Whatever app or page I was using on the phone would shake up and down involuntarily as though it was registering a touch command I wasn’t giving it. However, deleting the bulk of these song downloads (that I didn’t need in any case) and opening up some storage capacity seemed to clear that issue up. I also accounted part of this glitching to the capacitive keyboard (the KeyOne buttons have swipe functionality), perhaps due to dust in the sensors or something. As this feature is not essential (given that the phone has a standard touch screen anyway), disabling the capacitive feature seemed like a worthwhile sacrifice to stop the involuntary screen shakes.
So, overall, the phone hasn’t been perfect and has developed some wear and tear issues. However, the core functionality remains tip top. By comparison to older iPhones which tend to suffer from a curious slow-down of performance over the years, the KeyOne seems to have been immune to such deterioration and continues to function in sprightly fashion.
The Benefits in Getting a New Phone Are Not Significant Enough to Justify Upgrading
Although one of my main goals at the moment is to be sensible with my money, I am not averse to spending on expensive items provided that money is going toward something that will bring about a genuine improvement to my quality of life. As this approach to shopping has become quite ingrained, I always find that my frugal subconscious will chime in at any point where I am considering making a non-essential purchase (demanding an explanation for why I could possibly need another electric guitar when I already have seven). I think this aversion to wasting money on fads has perhaps been built up after too many instances of buyer’s remorse, so I now find that I am getting pre-emptive buyer’s remorse just from browsing!
On the other hand, when I am considering a purchase that will be truly worthwhile to me, this feeling of guilt is replace with one of excitement. Whether the item is for health and fitness, an investment or even a new phone, if I am dead sure that the item will be beneficial to me, my only reservation is to ensure that I find the best deal before making the purchase.
Accordingly, with this mindset, there is just no way that I can justify even considering a new phone at this stage. The reality is, even with the incredible features offered by the new iPhones (particularly the pro models), I would most likely end up just reverting to using the same features and apps that I am already using on my Blackberry (and which my Blackberry is more than capable of handling). Sure, it would be nice to play around with the three cameras and marvel at the iPhone’s incredible design, but the benefits over my existing phone are not sufficient for me to even contemplate taking on a contract for a $1,000+ phone.
Upgrading My Phone and Signing Up for a New Phone Contract Would Not Align With My Endeavours to Save Money
As I touched upon in my second point, getting a new phone is a significant expense, especially if you go for one of the top-end models.
As someone who would rather benefit from the savings in not upgrading and instead invest those savings, I feel like I am now in the best possible position so far as cell phones are concerned. Why? Because I have long since paid off the Blackberry under the original 24 month contract and, as I own the phone, I am now free to choose whatever contract I like.
Being a little over 12 months since my original contract expired, I am now on my second low cost monthly contract which currently sets me back a mere £8.80 per month for far more data, minutes and texts than I could possibly need. Given that I would be paying near enough ten times that amount to upgrade to one of the top-end cell phones on a 24 month contract, I can safely say that I am preferring hanging on to this cash rather than exchanging it for a new phone which, although very pretty, offers negligible benefit to my life.
The best part about owning the Blackberry outright is that, each time my phone contract expires, I am free to choose amongst the cheapest sim-only phone contracts to renew my phone service for a further fixed period. So as I am still more than happy with my current phone, rather than contemplating an expensive new phone contract I have just gone straight to price comparison websites to look for an even better deal!
So When Will I Actually Replace My Current Cell Phone?
As long as my little Blackberry keeps functioning well, I genuinely only foresee needing to upgrade it in the event that it gets damaged or is lost. The thing is, as a 2017 phone with a decent specification, I can’t see that there is anything which Apple or Samsung can offer even in their top-end phones which would convince me to tap out early and upgrade while the KeyOne is still operating well.
At this stage of my life when I am focused on developing my investments, the thought of being contractually on the hook to spend £80/$80+ per month for 2 or 3 years on something which will be of negligible benefit to me just seems silly. So if I had to make a projection, I would hope to get at least another 3 years’ use out of my Blackberry before I start thinking about upgrades.
Heaven forbid, but should my Blackberry come upon some unfortunate fate sooner than anticipated, I probably wouldn’t even consider one of the top-end phones. I get that it is now the norm for people to spend £1,000/$1,000 on a smart phone (and I am not denying that these phones are incredible), but that price bracket is certainly out of my range. Most likely when the time comes I will just repeat the process I went through when choosing the Blackberry. I’ll draw up a shortlist of contenders in the mid-price range and their specification tables, then just figure out which phone is truly the best value for money based on its internals.
What About You?
Let me know how often you upgrade your phone in the comments! Do any of you upgrade with every new offering (e.g. every new iPhone) or do you hang on to your phone for as long as possible like me?