I had and continue to have three reasons for upgrading:
- The new phones have features I want, making communicating or working easier for me, like the upgrades from a voice-only device to one that could sort-of browse the internet in a Gopher-like interface to one that could receive email and send text messages to one that can fully browse the web.
- After a few years, the phone batteries don't hold a charge as well and the software gets sluggish. If I'm going to buy a new battery, I think to myself in a situation where I can afford the purchase, I might as well just buy a new phone.
- Owning a newer device makes me feel immersed in the exciting world of current technology.
If you can afford constant materialism like what I continually exhibit, there's no reason for criticism. It's always true that if you save your money rather than succumbing to the latest upgrade cycle, and repeat this each time you are tempted to upgrade, your savings will build up. Invest your savings in a broad stock market index fund, and your wealth will most likely grow over the long-term at a rate that will allow you the freedom to do more with your life later on. Immediate gratification often takes precedence over long-term savings, and that's a person decision. It helps, however, to be aware of the choice and make the decision as consciously as possible, recognizing how manufacturers and retailers are working together to manipulate your brain.
You don't even need to sacrifice much in the way of technology to choose savings over buying the latest product. In the mobile phone industry, last year's models are often given away for free as long as you sign up for a two-year contract. I paid $150, an already discounted price, for one of the latest phones a few years ago; the next year, the price was down to $50 although there were more than enough methods of paying nothing for the device. When the desire to stay at the forefront of technology repeats itself, this behavior is costly.