10 signs it's time to get a new phone

Is your aging cell phone trying to tell you something?

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read

For some, the sign it's time to get a new phone is when Tim Cook takes to the stage in September and announces a new iPhone is upon us. Or when Samsung unveils its latest Galaxy phone for Android.

If you aren't on anything resembling a regular upgrade cycle, then your aging phone may be dropping some none-too-subtle hints that it's time put it out to pasture and buy a new phone.

Here are 10 signs it's time to get with the times:

1. The touch screen is slow to respond

If your phone has started to register your taps and swipes as suggestions and not commands, responding to some while ignoring others, it's time to upgrade to a phone that listens to you and cares about you.

2. Your busted-up screen is a hazard

Worse than a slow phone is a cracked phone. You may have grown accustomed to your smashed display to where you barely notice the intricate spider-web pattern of cracks, but a crisp new screen is certain to delight your senses. Or just your eyes.

Matt Elliott/CNET

3. The battery life doesn't get you to lunch

You have enough going on each day without needing to schedule a recharge for your phone. Unless you're watching YouTube and movies all day on a recent-model smartphone, you can reasonably expect to leave the house with it each morning to return at the end of the day without ever stopping to recharge its battery.

4. Your phone decides it's suddenly time to shut down (again)

Do you know what's worse than constantly running out of battery? The random shutdown. And the only thing less fun than the random shutdown is the random shutdown followed by your phone taking its sweet time powering back up. Or refusing to turn back on until a point in time of its choosing. Get a new phone and gain some predictability in your life.

5. Your photos and videos look like they were shot through a screen door

Along with a new phone comes a better camera. Stop capturing grainy, low-resolution moments and start collecting crisp, clear, high-resolution memories.

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6. Good morning! You're still out of storage space

Even tiny, low-resolution photos can begin to accumulate and occupy a big chunk of an old phone. Move to a new phone and you'll have, at minimum, 16GB of storage at your disposal. Then again, with a high-resolution camera on that phone taking high-resolution photos and videos, you may need tips on how to survive with a 16GB phone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

7. You flip open your phone to answer calls

If this applies to you, I'm also going to guess you maintain a Geocities page.

Sure, you've perfected the one-handed, wrist-snap maneuver to answer your flip phone, but you'll soon come to enjoy the swipe-to-answer gesture of a modern cell phone, along with its many other benefits.


8. Plugging in headphones is an art

Getting audio through your earbuds begins by plugging them in and gently twisting the headphone jack. Sometimes, it's a slight pull that gets the audio through. If that sounds familiar, the jack decided to retire early and your only option -- if your old phone has it -- is to use Bluetooth headphones.

Nokia 220
Sarah Tew/CNET

9. No one can understand what you're saying

Maybe it was water damage or just old phone fatigue, but your friends have stopped accepting your calls. Your only options for getting your voice heard -- should you decide to actually call someone -- are to plug in your headphones or use the speakerphone. Otherwise you've basically resorted to text messaging.

10. 3G < 4G

What if I told you a 4G or LTE phone can deliver content up to 10 times as fast as your aging 3G phone? And not to rub it in, but just wait until you see the rumored speeds of the soon-to-come 5G network. Depending on how old your current phone is and the coverage in your area, when you upgrade to a new-and-improved phone you may also upgrade to a new-and-improved network.

Fifth-generation networks should be dramatically faster than the 3G and 4G networks in use today.

If you are kicking the tires on a new phone, be sure to check out CNET's smartphone buying guide to help you find the right one.