From the phones in our pockets to the cars in our garages, we love our high-tech gadgets, appliances and other essentials in the UK. The thing about technology, though, is that it always marches on. That means you’ve got to upgrade if you want to keep pace. Sometimes it’s essential, like when you lose or break a gadget. Sometimes we just like to have the newest, shiniest technology in our hands, under our TVs, or filling our kitchens.

So what’s the upgrade cycle looking like for a typical Brit these days? According to surveys, it very much depends what kind of gear we’re talking about.

Mobile Phones

Take your mobile, for instance. A lot of people are on a fixed-term upgrade contract, where they get a new device automatically every year or two.

In fact, even for people who haven’t signed up for that kind of deal, that seems to be about the same upgrade cycle.

This makes phones one of the most frequently replaced technological items we own in the UK.

Games Consoles

Moving down the list, we start to see computer equipment and games consoles. The games console cycle seems pretty well established these days at around 5 years or so per generation. Obviously, you’re at the mercy of the major platform releases here, since no amount of clamouring on the internet is going to make Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft shuffle their dates around to suit you.

Console launches are complicated, since they rely in part on laying down the software support you’re going to need to make people want the Next Big Thing. Even so, people start to get twitchy for new gaming tech every 5 or 6 years, so that’s generally the way the upgrade cycle shakes out.


Oddly, that 5-6 year time frame sets games consoles on the same basic time frame as the humble kitchen kettle. Admittedly, a kettle’s probably not the first thing you think of when the conversation turns to high-tech gadgetry. Still, you’ve got to admit that the modern electric model on your kitchen worktop’s a pretty far cry from the stove-top versions we were seeing in previous generations.

Weirdly, the idea of the electric kettle’s actually a lot older than most people realise, with the first ones coming out of Chicago’s Carpenter Electric Company back in 1891! It just goes to show – even the best ideas sometimes take a while to catch on.

Before we leave the kitchen, let’s take a quick look around and see what else we’ve got to consider. With things like fridges, freezers and washing machines, we’re entering a new 6-10 year upgrade schedule. Again, this probably isn’t something that most people consider as a technology upgrade.

With white goods, we tend to run our existing devices right into the ground before replacing them, and only ever really think about “upgrading” when they break. Again, though, these kinds of items do still get more advanced with time, so they earn a spot on the list at 6-10 years between upgrades.

TVs and Cars

That’s a pretty wide bracket, of course, so naturally your kitchen appliances are in good company. 6-10 years is also about how long we keep everything from our TVs to our cars.

These can be pretty expensive things to replace, so we tend to think harder about our next model before laying the cash down. TVs get bigger and smarter, while cars get safer and more fuel-efficient. Either way, you’re looking to get the very most out of your next purchase.

If there’s one updating schedule you want to keep op top of, it’s keeping your tax refund details on the cutting edge. From kettles to cars, however often you’re upgrading your tech, you’re in a much better position with a tax refund in your pocket. Your first claim could be worth thousands, covering what HMRC owes from up to 4 tax years back. Even an average single year’s tax refund could easily score you that brand new console you’ve had your eye on.

In the tax refund game, everything depends on staying up-to-date. Find out what you're owed now, and keep checking back for more tips and updates from the UK’s leading tax experts.