We asked Jamie Lendino, managing editor for consumer electronics and mobile at PCMag.com, how and when to upgrade (or sell) your device to milk out every cent of its value.
Q: Is there a timing sweet spot that gives the consumer the most benefit when upgrading?
A: For phones, it’s easiest to just stay within the confines of your contract and upgrade every two years. You can take advantage of the subsidized price and get a nicer, newer phone. Treat tablets like any other piece of electronics—keep them as long as you can, but upgrade when you see something you like. If you’re happy browsing the web and watching Netflix with what you have, there’s no need to upgrade!
Q: How long does a phone in excellent condition typically hold its resale value?
A: If it’s a high-end smartphone, maybe a year or so before prices start to really drop on eBay, if that’s what you’re thinking. You can upgrade sooner than every two years, but then you have to pay full retail price, so you’ll want to get as much as you can on the used market for the old one.
Q: What happens to your perfectly functional phone after it’s traded back to a provider or manufacturer?
A: Sometimes they’ll refurbish it and use it as a warranty replacement. Other times it may be sold to a third party. In either case, you’ll want to make sure you erased your data off of it—most smartphones make that easy today with a setting just for that purpose.