Campus Life

How to determine when to upgrade your devices


Every year, there are a plethora of new gadgets and upgraded devices that come out. The question is, how often should one upgrade? Usually, for each device there is consideration for a different upgrade cycle because some devices come out with new features each year that revolutionize how they are used, while others maintain the same basic functions that they have had for several years and an individual may not need to upgrade their device as often.

Patterns of cell phone use can be used as an example for discerning the value of upgrading a device. If you are one who uses your phone for everything from playing games, watching videos, facetiming and especially making money, you can probably more easily justify the expense of an upgrade. Because you are spending literally thousands of hours on your device, the increased features and improved performance functions are likely worth it to you.  On the other hand, if you only really use your phone to make calls, text and email, there is a possibility that you still have a black berry or one of the first few generations of smart phones. You may not need or want an upgrade.

With each year since about 2013, the rate of performance increases in digital technology has been slowly declining. This projected slowdown, referred to as Moore’s Law, was predicted as early as 1965 by Gordon Moore who based his prediction on the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.  This relates to the number of transistors in the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a computer which essentially does the thinking. Moore was a businessman looking for long term predictions for planning, research and development. To the consumer of today, this apparent limitation impedes the advancement in memory capacity, sensors and pixels among other advancements and further emphasizes the need for a new technology that is not based on silicon chips.

Even while there has been a decrease in the speed of advancement in computer technology, battery technology has been advancing faster than ever.  Batteries which power these devices are increasingly able to hold more power for a longer time frame and have a longer life expectancy with the capacity to be charged more times. In addition, advancements in batteries make it possible for them to take up much less space in your phone or other device allowing for larger logic boards and many more features.

The choice to upgrade your device or not depends upon how much you use your device, what level of device you bought previously, and your perceived future needs. If you use your device every day for several hours a day, it is probably going to deteriorate faster from wear and tear and from the installation of programs that eat up system resources.  These slow down the computer.  You may anticipate a growing need or desire to stay in touch with friends and family, your voice to be heard on social media or have expanding business or employment needs requiring you to use your device for a wider variety of functions. This kind of use justifies upgrading, especially if you consider yourself a power user and take advantage of advanced features. These usually entail using more of your system’s resources meaning there will be a minor upgrade that will come from newer parts in the newer device.

In contrast, depending upon which model and price category you bought from originally, you may be able to delay having to upgrade. If you purchased a higher end more expensive desktop and your needs become less demanding, you might not have to upgrade your laptop or computer for 4 or 5 years. If you get nicer laptops you might only need to upgrade every 3 to 4 years especially if your using it in a business setting. With phones, though, you might want to upgrade every 1 to 2 years due to the constant increase in performance, improved methods for storing energy, and

A student works at a computer.

A student works at a computer.

more effective energy use. Of course, this does not factor in wear and tear from misuse or being lost or stolen.

About Matthew McDowell

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