When to Purchase a New Cellphone. Or Not.

When to Buy a New Phone. Or Not.

Apple will be talking about its new iPhones and other doodads on Tuesday. Brian X. Chen, a technology columnist for the New York Times, offers a three-question quiz that can help you decide whether it's worth considering a new smartphone or sticking with what you have. (You can see how Apple's iPhone is featured here. Or not. The Times will have the useful information here.)

It's that time of year again when companies are scratching and advertising like the hell to get us to buy the latest versions of their phones. The difference this year is that it's 2020 and the world is upside down. Many of us face unemployment or struggle with stress that cannot be solved with computer circuits – and have neither the desire nor the ability to buy a new smartphone.

The good news is that modern smartphones are so rugged and reliable that most of us probably won't have to go without our old ones. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to determine if it is time to consider a new phone.

Can I still receive software updates?

If your smartphone is so old that the manufacturer no longer releases the latest operating system for your phone, you may need to buy a new one. Without the latest operating system, you might miss out on important bug fixes and security improvements. Some of your favorite apps may also stop working properly.

How to find out:

  • The Apple website shows that the latest operating system software, iOS 14, will work for phones dating back to the iPhone 6S as of 2015. If you own an older model, you should probably consider a new one.

  • Androids tend to have a shorter shelf life. On average, manufacturers support Android devices for two to three years before they stop providing updates to the operating system and security software. Do a web search for your phone model to see if it can download the latest version of Android, currently Android 11.

    For example, according to a table published by Google, owners of the original Google Pixel smartphone can no longer receive software or security updates. If you own the 2016 Pixel, it's a good time to replace it with a newer phone. Here is some information about Samsung smartphones that work with Android 11.

Is my device irreparable?

If your device can still get the latest software but has other issues, such as: For example, if you have a short-lived battery or a broken screen, I recommend checking whether the device is worth repairing. It costs around $ 50 to $ 70 to replace a battery, and a new screen from an independent repair store typically costs around $ 100. This is far cheaper (and less wasteful) than buying a new smartphone.

But at some point the repair costs are no longer worthwhile. The good news is you don't have to pay $ 1,000. Excellent smartphones like the Google Pixel 4A and iPhone SE cost $ 350 and $ 400, respectively.

Am I dissatisfied with my cell phone?

This is a tough question as satisfaction is subjective. If you think your phone is not going to meet your needs for speed, features, or picture quality, then an upgrade makes perfect sense if you can afford it. However, try to make the decision based on your needs and wants rather than giving in to pressure from colleagues or corporate promotions.

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it on weekdays.

It's Shira Ovide who does the rest of the newsletter.

Mark Zuckerberg says he wants Facebook to give people a voice, and that includes having the Holocaust denied on its websites and apps. The company changed its mind on Monday.

Switching Facebook is important for two reasons. First, it has shown again that, despite the company's claims, it is indeed an arbitrator. Second, it pointed to a riddle in Zuckerberg's argument that all views should be allowed online because the internet should be a place where people can be wrong.

This is the case on Facebook's stance that it doesn't want to be an "arbiter of the truth" online, as I wrote in this newsletter.

Facebook has thousands of pages of rules about what people can say and do on its websites and apps. Most of us would agree that it is good that Facebook takes a tough line against terrorists who openly plan violence online or people who post pictures of child sexual abuse. In the debate, Facebook should draw the boundaries in other areas and the compromises in corporate decisions.

Second, the policy change reveals loopholes in Facebook's principles. Two years ago, when Zuckerberg defended the ability of Holocaust deniers to publicize their views, he said people should have room to say factually wrong, even hideous, things on the Internet – unless the bad information led to harm in the real World.

That sounds reasonable. In reality, however, incorrect information on the Internet can often have devastating consequences. Unsubstantiated information about wireless technologies causing the coronavirus, school shootings as a joke, or criminal activity in a Washington pizzeria caused real harm. Zuckerberg said his views on Holocaust denial and distortion changed after seeing information about the rise in anti-Semitic violence.

This reality most likely requires Facebook to put more people and money in to effectively identify when the line between online expression and real danger has been crossed. And it requires a commitment from Facebook to be smarter to understand people, not just reflect the principles of free speech that fail to stand up to logic.

  • Shared recommendations on an Uber election measure: I wrote on Monday about Uber and other app companies supporting an election in California that would repeal a state law requiring app contract workers to be classified as employees. The New York Times editors recommended that California voters vote no, as it would "give gig workers the protection that all workers deserve," the editors say.

    The editorial offices of two major California news organizations, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Mercury News & East Bay Times, recommended that Californians vote yes to the measure known as Proposition 22.

  • When apps become politics: Pakistan banned the TikTok app, citing immoral and indecent content. Government critics said the ban should stop criticism of the country's leadership in dealing with the coronavirus and economic challenges, my colleague Salman Masood reported.

  • Is everything ok? Our social media habits suggest, NO, WE ARE NOT: The researchers developed the “hedonometer” to track our collective happiness based on the words we write on Twitter. The dates are far from perfect, but the readings show – perhaps unsurprisingly – continued sadness this year, Casey Schwartz wrote for The Times. The saddest day the hedonometer recorded in the past 13 years was Sunday May 31, 2020.

Bird lovers in New York are obsessed with a little owl that appeared in Central Park. And I have to say the owl is beautiful, especially when it yawns or looks sad.

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