Smartphones Are Like Cars. So Why Don’t We Maintain Them?

You can also create an annual calendar reminder to check your phone. This can include simple steps like clearing apps and photos you no longer need to free up digital storage space, which can speed up phone backups.

Another motivator can be doing math. For around $70, you can have your phone’s battery replaced at a repair shop, making this a relatively cost-effective solution. Let’s say two years from now you trade in your $800 phone for a $300 credit toward the new $800 model. That means spending $500 on a phone every two years; in eight years you will have spent $2,800 on phones. In contrast, if you keep an $800 phone and replace two batteries at $70 each, you’ll spend $940 over the same period. For many people, especially families with multiple phones, this translates into big savings.

You can also remind yourself to practice self-restraint when new phone ads come on TV or pop up in your inbox, said Lee Vincell, author of “The innovation fallacy”, a book about how our obsession with the new has killed the art of maintenance. It also includes resisting the urge to judge others who don’t have the latest gadgets.

“There needs to be a cultural change,” Mr Vincell said. “We need to stop being seduced by advertising and just think about the bigger picture, including the environment.”

It’s worth noting, however, that some common phone problems may prove impractical to fix. Case in point: When I broke my iPhone 12 screen, a replacement part from Apple costs about $300. If the cost of the repair approaches the cost of a new device, purchasing a replacement may make sense. (However, I paid to fix it because I’m on the phone.)

But the phone repair situation is improving. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission announced it would to crack down on companies that prevent people from getting better their products. and a The New York state law, which was passed in Junewhich would require tech companies to open up access to electronics repair and diagnostic tools, awaits a signature from Gov. Kathy Hochul.

As a result of all the regulatory movement, repair is gradually becoming simpler. What needs to change is our thinking.