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Do you actually need shiny new tech for Christmas? The reply is ‘no’ | Client affairs

This Christmas, many Apple fans can be mulling over whether or not to shell out virtually £800 for a brand new iPhone 15, whereas some commuters can be pondering of placing the brand new Bose QuietComfort Extremely headphones on their checklist, though at £450, Santa will have to be feeling beneficiant.

However is it actually essential to carry on updating our telephones, laptops, smartwatches and headphones as new fashions hit the market? The straightforward reply isn’t any.

The times of the speedy developments in know-how that drove fixed enhancements in shopper know-how are gone. And meaning frequent upgrading simply not pays off.

A couple of decade in the past, every new machine marked an enormous enchancment over what got here earlier than – from processing energy that made them quicker to longer battery life. However for the previous few years these updates have turn out to be more and more minor.

What this implies is that many gadgets ought to now be considered home equipment much like fridges, washing machines or TVs – purchased for the lengthy haul and used till they want changing, not discarded repeatedly for one thing newer and shinier.


The new iPhone 15 … but is it worth shelling out around £800?
The brand new iPhone 15 … however is it price shelling out round £800? {Photograph}: Aly Track/Reuters

The launch of the iPhone in 2007 kickstarted the fashionable period of touch-screen telephones. The speedy developments within the chips that energy them, and the information networks that related them, made new fashions must-haves annually for many who might afford them.

However whereas there are nonetheless developments within the common cellphone, comparable to folding screens and models which might be repaired simply by the person, they’ve plateaued to a state of “ok”, providing little in the best way of great efficiency leaps since 2019. This implies customers will typically wrestle to see how any advances benefit a brand new buy.

Most telephones have a minimum of 128GB of storage – sufficient for almost all of customers – chips that keep quick for longer, and mobile connectivity that has probably not moved on.

Cameras are nonetheless the most popular battleground between high-end producers. The final massive leap was the spectacular periscope lens enabling for much longer optical zooms launched on the Huawei P30 Professional in 2019. This has been refined by others, permitting an unbelievable 10x optical zoom on latest Samsung telephones. Now virtually any trendy cellphone takes good pictures.

Meaning upgrading to a brand new one annually simply shouldn’t be price it, even for the tech-obsessed. The common person retains a cellphone for as much as 4 years, however the {hardware} is often able to lasting a minimum of six or longer. Even when the battery wears out, it may possibly sometimes get replaced.

Whereas you shouldn’t use a cellphone that not receives safety updates, even right here progress is slowly being made, with as much as 10 years’ of software program assist pledged by the perfect within the enterprise, comparable to Fairphone.


The newest smartwatches offer little gain over the older version, and updates just offer small additions.
The most recent smartwatches supply little acquire over the older model, and updates simply supply small additions. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

They is perhaps one of many latest classes of gadget, however even they’ve hit a stage the place every new version affords minimal beneficial properties.

The Apple Watch is the basic instance. Solely just lately has the watch been given a chip that speeds it up – for the primary time in three years. It’s an identical scenario with Samsung’s standard Galaxy Watches and even Garmin’s lengthy line of sports activities watches.

The final massive leap was the addition of the electrocardiogram (ECG) for monitoring coronary heart rhythm, first to the Apple Watch Sequence 4 in 2018 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Lively 2 a yr later.

Since then, most updates have been refinements, or small additions, with greater upgrades made by way of software program that can be out there to older fashions.

That makes software program assist crucial cause for a shopper to improve, alongside the battery sporting out, or the display screen getting smashed.


Pill computer systems have lengthy been an offshoot of the smartphone trade, sometimes utilizing the identical chips and know-how, however packaged with bigger format screens.

However they hit maturity even quicker than telephones, primarily as a result of the issues that most individuals do with them – comparable to watching video or shopping – have turn out to be much less taxing for contemporary chips, whereas streaming has made storage go additional.

In consequence, a pill made in 2014 continues to be completely able to taking part in Netflix, shopping the Observer, or viewing vacation snaps if the software program permits.

However all shouldn’t be equal within the pill world, with some producers solely offering software program assist for a paltry two or three years from launch, whereas Apple, Samsung and Google present a minimum of 5 for contemporary gadgets.


Computer systems have been a number of the longest-lasting items of know-how for the final 15 years, with the speed of development of PC chips slowing a lot quicker than these for mobiles.

Typical up-to-date laptops and desktop PCs can anticipate a minimum of 10 years of software program assist from both Microsoft with Home windows or Apple with macOS.

Normally, meaning updates that add options and design adjustments for 5 to seven years, then solely safety updates for longer. With trendy chips, SSD (strong state) storage and USB-C ports, there may be little or no to be gained by upgrading.

There have been two latest exceptions. The leap by Microsoft from Home windows 10 to 11 in 2021 left some comparatively trendy PCs out, leaving them caught on Home windows 10. It will attain its finish of life in October 2025, when it would not obtain essential safety updates.

Apple’s swap from Intel to its own-brand chips in 2020 additionally has the potential to go away Intel Macs behind.


The new Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones … but are they that different from the original model?
The brand new Bose QuietComfort Extremely headphones … however are they that totally different from the unique mannequin? {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Whereas Bluetooth earbuds have quickly improved during the last 5 years, many wired headphones have remained largely unchanged for a decade or extra.

Progress on the prime of the Bluetooth market from Bose, Sony and others began to degree out about eight years in the past. A set of Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones purchased in 2016 affords virtually the identical degree of noise cancellation at its just lately launched class-leading QuietComfort Extremely mannequin.

And whereas wired headphones had been dealt a blow by the removing of the three.5mm socket from telephones, even that may be overcome with the fitting adapter.

The newest tech to succeed in its peak is lively noise cancellation. Whereas these from the perfect within the enterprise definitely block out extra extraneous sound, the tech is now low-cost and efficient sufficient that nearly any noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds may also help quieten the skin world.

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