How long do you keep your smartphone? Study shows the smartphone upgrade cycle is getting even longer


A new study released by Strategy Analytics reveals that smartphone owners aren’t feeling the need to upgrade their devices as often as they used to. Based on the current numbers, the average Samsung smartphone has been active for 16.5 months and the average Apple device clocking in at18 months. This shows that Samsung smartphone owners are purchasing a new smartphone at a slightly faster pace than Apple customers, but not by much.

According to the study, buyers are planning to keep their smartphones longer than before with many planning to keep their same device for 3 years. Unfortunately for smartphone manufacturers, there are a lot of reasons why smartphones users aren’t upgrading as quickly as before. For the most part, people simply aren’t interested in iterative upgrades. While the technology inside each new generation of smartphones is always getting better, the increased value that it adds to the consumer isn’t as visible as it once was. Most smartphones are significantly overpowered for what the average consumer uses them for, so minor tweaks to the camera, better performance, and higher resolution display upgrades go unnoticed by those who use their phones for social media, calling, messaging and browsing the web.

Another important factor which is keeping people from upgrading more often is the massive bump in price we have seen for flagship smartphones over the past few years. With more high-end smartphones costing $1,000 or more, buyers are more apprehensive about how much money they are spending on a device. In order to compensate for the higher prices, many are choosing to keep their phones longer, evening out how much they spend on purchasing smartphones over time.

“Wow features are important for only 1 in 3 US buyers with Hispanic and African Americans most interested as well as Gen Z. Premium customers spending $1000+ are naturally most desiring of wow features as well as new network technology but these represent only 7% of those surveyed.”

The good news for Samsung and Apple is that they enjoy brand loyalty rates of 70% while other brands like Motorola and LG only see less than 50% of their customers return to purchase a new device from them. Samsung and Apple’s unit sales may not be increasing, but their respective market share has.

The numbers in the Strategy Analytics align with other reports we have seen over the past year or so, predicting a slowdown in smartphone sales across the globe. Do you think we’ll be seeing an even greater slowdown in the coming years? How often are you spending your hard-earned cash on a new smartphone?

Nick Gray
I'm a life-long tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC. After writing about tech for more than a decade, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of Editor in Chief at Phandroid. Please contact me at [email protected].

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