7 issues it is advisable to know before you purchase a cell phone


Safety updates are your most important line of defence to protect a cell phone or another linked system towards malware and hackers. However whereas 77% of smartphone house owners we surveyed* are conscious of those patches, many misunderstand how they really work.

Manufacturers do not all the time make it simple for you, but it surely’s essential to grasp precisely what you are getting relating to your smartphone’s safety.

Consider all the things your cellphone is aware of about you. It might be your banking particulars, your emails or your each transfer tracked in your calendar – all info you would not need falling into the unsuitable arms.

This can be a uncommon worst-case situation of utilizing an out-of-support cellphone, however the dangers do improve the longer you wait to improve. Learn on for the details it is advisable to learn about cell safety, and recommendation on how to decide on a safe, long-lasting cellphone.

Go to the greatest telephones we have examined for the fashions that handed our checks with flying colors, or test the greatest Sim-free and contract cellphone offers at Which? Cellular Change.

1. Safety assist does not start once you purchase a handset

Nearly half our survey respondents thought {that a} cellphone’s assist begins from the day of buy. The truth is, safety assist begins from its launch date and it counts down from there.

This makes shopping for a brand new cellphone difficult if you’d like a handset you’ll be able to preserve for a number of years. It may be tempting to attend for a couple of months after a cellphone launches to get a extra purse-friendly worth, however keep in mind that you would find yourself with a cellphone that is safe to make use of for only a few months.

You possibly can test how lengthy a smartphone might be supported for before you purchase it through the use of our cell assist calculator.

Or go straight to all of the smartphones we have examined to select from considered one of our newly launched fashions.

2. Producers differ in how lengthy they supply updates for

Phone downloading update

Practically half of our respondents knew that this was the case, however the lack of readability from manufacturers is inflicting confusion. In our survey, Android house owners, on common, believed their cellphone would obtain updates for 2 years. Apple iPhone house owners have been extra optimistic, however nonetheless a way off, with three years. As you’ll be able to see beneath, iPhones are much better than that and Android is a combined bag.

The smartphone model you select is the most important deciding consider how lengthy it is possible for you to to make use of your cellphone securely. Assist ranges from two years to greater than 5:

  • 2 years Honor, Huawei, Motorola, Realme, Xiaomi
  • 3 years Google, Nokia (most)
  • 4 years OnePlus (some), Samsung (most)
  • 5 years Apple, Fairphone

Click on by way of to learn extra on which manufacturers provide the perfect safety assist.

3. Costlier telephones are likely to have longer assist intervals

Practically 1 / 4 of individuals in our survey did not consider that pricier telephones get particular therapy relating to updates. Most often, that is true.

At present, your best choice for selecting a long-lasting cellphone is to go for a premium model. The most effective supported fashions are Apple’s typically costly iPhones, adopted by costly Samsung Galaxy and OnePlus flagships, that are creeping up in worth with each new launch.

There are additionally discrepancies between how producers deal with their high-end and price range fashions. Nokia, OnePlus and Oppo all take an elitist strategy relating to their updates, reserving the longest assist for his or her costliest handsets.

The one exception on Android is Samsung. In case you purchase a Galaxy cellphone launched from 2019, chances are high it would have a formidable 4 years of safety assist. Even some super-cheap fashions, such because the sub-£150 Samsung Galaxy A02s, profit from the utmost size of updates.

4. Smartphone manufacturers do not legally have to offer updates for a set minimal interval

Man using mobile phone

Just one in 10 smartphone house owners knew that producers aren’t legally obliged to offer safety updates for a set interval, or weren’t certain both means.

Though the industry-standard minimal is 2 years, this is not set in stone. An absence of regulation within the {industry} implies that manufacturers can withdraw assist every time they select, doubtlessly leaving their clients excessive and dry and needing to improve earlier than they wish to.

The federal government is due to herald new cybersecurity legal guidelines this 12 months, together with new laws round safety updates. They will not pressure manufacturers to offer assist for a set time, however they’ll have to be clear with shoppers, so you’ll not less than know for certain when assist is because of finish once you signal on the dotted line to your new smartphone.

Learn how new safety legal guidelines might preserve your linked merchandise secure.

5. Safety updates aren’t assured for the size of your contract

4 in 10 respondents instructed us they consider {that a} cellphone will obtain safety updates all through the interval of their contract.

It’s miles from an unreasonable expectation, though it is sadly unrealistic. A Which? Investigation revealed that, on common, 48% of cell phone contracts might go away shoppers with an insecure system earlier than they’ve even completed paying it off.

With so many manufacturers providing simply two years of assist from launch, it isn’t unlikely that you would run out of updates earlier than an ordinary 24-month contract involves an finish.

Be certain to make use of our cell assist calculator earlier than you decide to a brand new pay-monthly handset and test Which? Cellular Change to get the greatest Sim-free offers and cellphone contracts.

6. Retailers are allowed to promote out of assist smartphones

Phone downloading update

Two thirds of respondents have been uncertain whether or not retailers are allowed to promote you an out of assist smartphone. Sadly, since there’s little or no regulation within the {industry}, you would doubtlessly find yourself shopping for an insecure system.

It is not all dangerous information, although. It is doubtless that by the point a cellphone is out of assist, manufacturers could have discontinued it in favour of their shiny new fashions. There’s nothing to cease retailers from flogging previous inventory, but it surely’s extra prone to be a problem should you’re purchasing within the second-hand market than shopping for new.

Learn our information on methods to purchase a refurbished cellphone for our prime recommendations on getting the perfect deal once you’re after a pre-owned handset.

7. You will not be notified when your replace interval ends

A 3rd of individuals in our survey suppose that they’d be notified when their cellphone stops receiving updates. Nonetheless, your notifications are most definitely going to dry up when your assist does, with no warning in your handset that it is fallen off the producer’s replace cycle.

Be certain to test all our cell phone critiques to see which gadgets we flag as out of assist.

Smartphone safety: how Which? may also help

In case you, just like the almost seven in 10 of the individuals we surveyed, are involved about safety updates, then Which? skilled recommendation may also help you to make the fitting selection.

Safety updates device

Our cell assist calculator lets you kind in your make and mannequin and discover out whether or not it is nonetheless being supported, and the way for much longer we consider it is going to be up to date for.

Assessment-level info

Head to the tech specs part in our cell phone critiques to see how lengthy the model normally updates its telephones for and the estimated remaining assist for that exact handset.

Safety discover on out-of-support handsets

Which? security notice

Our safety discover lets when a cellphone falls off the replace cycle, so you’ll be able to keep away from shopping for it or cease utilizing it.

Which? requires industry-level change

We consider that smartphone manufacturers might and will do extra to maintain their clients’ info safe and permit them to maintain their handsets for longer. We wish to see:

  • No less than 5 years of software program and safety updates throughout all gadgets from level of launch, no matter reputation or value
  • In-device notifications about when replace assist will stop, so that customers could make extra knowledgeable selections about subsequent steps
  • Extra common replace assist from when producers are first made conscious of patches, notably for these utilizing the Android working system
  • Better readability about precise updates insurance policies at time of buy and on a publicly accessible web site, so shoppers are totally knowledgeable about replace provision earlier than they purchase.

*Yonder, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,084 UK adults on-line between 11 and 13 June 2021. Knowledge was weighted to be consultant of the UK inhabitants by age, gender, area, social grade, tenure and work standing. Of the total pattern, 1,985 individuals owned a smartphone and answered the survey questions.


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