“When you buy a new smartphone, how long do you expect it to last? Two years? Maybe three? Despite the sometimes sky-high sticker prices, we tend to replace our smartphones more frequently than any of our other expensive electronic devices. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Around the time early smartphones from Apple and Google started to hit shelves in the late 2000s, the traditional model for buying a phone from your carrier worked like this: You would sign up for a two-year contract and in exchange you’d get a free (or very cheap) phone whose cost was built into the price of your monthly payment. Once your two years were up, carriers would lure you back with an “upgrade” that renewed your contract, gave you a new phone and maybe even took the old phone off your hands.
This worked fine for old flip phones, and especially cheaper phones that might not last very long. However, this model came with an unintended side effect. It trained users to expect upgrades every two years.”