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How Often Should You Replace Your Business Phone?

A very good way of illustrating how technology develops and modernizes is to consider the following fact: The onboard computer that allowed Apollo 11 to land on the Moon was less powerful than the cell phone in your pocket – or your hand – right now. Not just less powerful, but depending on how you calculate the power of a computer, it was between 100,000 times and a million times less powerful. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins used that computer to achieve the first ever human visit to the lunar surface. We, for the most part, use ours to play games and tweet.

That’s no knock on the humans of 2021 as compared to the astronauts of 1969. What it illustrates is that it doesn’t even take a full lifetime for technology – invented to achieve something never seen before – to become first commonplace, then obsolete, then less impressive than a pocket calculator. And given that one of the most essential duties of our 2021 cell phones is to ensure we can run a business smoothly, this raises a question: How long do you wait between updates for your business devices?

It’s not as simple as it first seems…

Given how quickly technology can move on, it would make sense for diligent business owners to always want to have the very latest in mobile devices. If you’ve got a phone that was purchased two years ago, and your competitor in a neighboring office has one they bought last week, surely they have a huge advantage? 

Maybe not. Ask yourself what a new cell phone can do today that you couldn’t do with yours in the summer of 2019. There may be a few things, but none of them are essential to the running of a business. A phone bought in the pre-Covid days will still be able to accommodate pretty much any app you may want to download today, and is highly unlikely to have problems running it. 

But any improvement is worth it, right?

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that cell phone technology has reached its peak. That’s simply not a statement we can make with any confidence, because we don’t know what the future will hold. What we can say is that we’re currently in a stage of marginal gains. Sure, if your current phone is starting to run slowly it is time to seek out a replacement, figure out how to transfer pictures from iPhone to iPhone, and donate your old handset for refurbishment. But if you were to replace your cell every time there was an upgrade, you’d never have time to even figure out how to reliably bring up your app screen at the first attempt. And all for the ability to stream video slightly faster when on 4G?

Then there’s the cost of upgrading across an entire business. If everyone is using their personal phone for business calls, they shouldn’t be. That’s a security risk and should be discouraged. But if your policy is to upgrade more often than is really needed, you have to consider the expense of such a change. Also, bear in mind that a business phone should be protected with all the necessary anti-virus and cybersecurity software you can throw at it. New phones can be vulnerable to hacking, which is one reason it’s an advised policy that no incumbent US President should be issued a replacement phone unless it’s unavoidable.

So how often should you upgrade your business devices?

If your current devices work, and do whatever you need them to do – which they’re likely to do for a couple of years at least – then there is no need to replace them. If you want fancy new tech on a regular basis, you can always upgrade your personal phone, as often as you want. But it’s not necessary, and from a bottom line point of view, it’s not advisable. With that said, it makes sense that you will want to replace phones and devices before they begin to die. So there should be a fixed limit for how long business phones are kept before you upgrade.

Given that phones can easily last up to three years, that might seem to be an appropriate term for business technology, but there’s an issue there: not all phones will last that long. So, typically, once every two years seems to be an appropriate time to upgrade. This way, everyone will be on the same level when it comes to new technology, there won’t be issues of backward or forward compatibility, and the business can get a bulk deal on the handsets rather than just finding the funds to replace phones as they fall into disrepair. 

New technology is a remarkable thing, but in business it isn’t always necessary or even desirable to have the newest devices at all times. You’re not trying to land on the Moon here.

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