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Most people wait 3-5 years before upgrading their smartphones

By midian182 · 59 replies
Aug 23, 2019
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  1. Ting Mobile surveyed 3,640 mobile users to discover upgrade trends such as length of time between new buys, reasons for switching, and how much they spent on the latest models.

    We know that part of the reason behind the slumping smartphone market is because consumers are upgrading their handsets at a slower pace than before. Most tech giants release more than one new phone every year, but the majority of the participants (47 percent) kept their last phone for three to five years, while 30 percent waited two years. Only ten percent upgraded at the one-year mark, and less than five percent didn’t even wait 12 months.

    As to what made people upgrade, 32 percent said it was because the phone wasn’t working as well as before. Twenty-three percent said it was broken, damaged, or lost, and 18 percent said it was outdated.

    In a world where $1,000+ handsets are becoming the standard for flagships, price was the most significant factor when choosing a new device. Interestingly, 42 percent of people surveyed spent between $150 and $399 on a new phone, while just 3 percent spent over $1,000.

    With many new handsets offering incremental improvements and few new features compared to their predecessors, it’s not surprising to see fewer people in a rush to upgrade. Even Samsung’s Galaxy S10 suffered “weak sales momentum” in the second quarter, contributing to the company’s disappointing Q2.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Nobodysfool

    Nobodysfool TS Enthusiast Posts: 30   +28

    I'm still using my iPhone 6s Plus just for the 3.5mm jack. The phone has had third-party battery replacements and I will hold on to it until Apple comes to their senses and returns functionality over "courage." LOL.
  3. ckm88

    ckm88 TS Addict Posts: 187   +135

    Very unlikely to happen. Just keep using it till some other piece of hardware in dies.
    Olayinkaji likes this.
  4. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 2,316   +1,536

    The trend of needing the greatest and new shiny thing, even for youth has been subsiding. In all honesty, a Samsung S4 would still do everything, or 99% of what people need, and the hardware is still probably strong enough to run the latest Android OS.
    Normally I don't take survey's too seriously as the results are normally 50% accurate at best, but these seem pretty close. I hand down my old phones to friends/family, my old man is rocking my old S5 and he loves it, puts in a new battery every year or so and it still runs great.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
    Burty117, MaitieS, seeprime and 7 others like this.
  5. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 626   +1,259

    Personally, I feel smartphone designed peaked a couple of years back. Other than the usual minor incremental numbers on "Snapdragon" chips or OS version tweaks that are glorified Service Packs, the bulk of what's seemed to have driven 2018-2019 is "create a solution to the same unnecessary problem you created the previous year then call it 'evolution'" thing:-

    - "Buy a notch phone! It has a cool notch it that's way better than the feature bar of 2016"... One year later... "Buy a phone with a Feature Bar, uh, I meant FOREHEAD phone. Completely notch-less is a totally new invention!"

    - "Buy an 18:9 phone, nay a 19:9 phone, nay a 21:9 phone! Now you can have that phone you've always dreamed of that's so overly long it no longer fits in your jeans pocket, is uncomfortable to use the volume up/down buttons one-handed plus we've brought back the choice of 'black-bars or zoom-and-crop' on 16:9 content just like the old days of 16:9 video on 4:3 CRT TV's but round the sides instead of top/bottom!"

    ^ Some of this drivel is strangely reminiscent of those cringe-worthy Windows Vista infomercials filled with shills gushing over how "life-changing" the Sidebar would be for everyone, only to do a W7 review swearing blind the exact opposite was true barely 18 months later...
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  6. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,136   +1,218

    As the Swiss saying goes," Buy it once."
    Theinsanegamer, jobeard and Nero7 like this.
  7. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 591   +502

    Considering that even the likes of Samsung and other Android OEMs are removing the headphone jack I wouldn't hold my breath.

    Count me in as one of the people who upgrade far less often than the companies would like me to upgrade. I still have an iPhone 7 Plus and after three years I'm just now decided that I want an upgrade. Part of the upgrade decision is the battery issues but a large portion of the reason to upgrade is that I want that oh so sexy OLED screen.
  8. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 498   +236

    I really liked the Lumia 640 but once I noticed that the RAM was too little to display sites like Techspot that was game over for it. The camera was good for the price but bad for when you wanted pretty pictures.

    So I wanted a Lenovo P2 I think it was since it had amazin battery live.

    But then I had the chance to get a Huawai P10 for 150$ so that choice was easy.

    Now I am on a P20 pro because the camera is what I am after and china is on the other side of the globe so they can have all my data I don't care. The camera is amazing, no need for a camera.

    I don't see why I would ever upgrade from that. Once it breaks I'll need a replacements. That will hopefully be integrated into the arm I want to be a cyborg commando.
  9. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 846   +650

    The sales would be even lower if they didn't purposefully design it to "need" an upgrade. Case in point:

    - Fragile curved glass (dumb@sses)
    - Welded-in non-replaceable battery
    - Software upgrades that drain the battery artificially (people think the battery needs replaced, that is now welded in). looking at you Apple
    - waterproof fails (the charge port door on the S5 constantly breaks)

    What will I give them credit for?
    - adding water resistance, if even just a little bit

    My S5 is still great other than games. I just use it for work email, so haven't needed to replace the battery.
    Just replaced my S8 due to the craptacular fragile curved glass. It's been broke since the week I bought it. :mad:

    What features do I look for on getting a phone?

    - size; fits in pocket comfortably
    - water resistant
    - camera quality (I take a lot of watersports videos)
    - SD card port
    - 3.5mm jack
    - flat screen

    Hard pass if it doesn't have these. I got a S10 instead of the S10e. I sacrificed the flat screen for the significantly better camera. Time will tell how much "stronger" the new model curved glass is. :/
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  10. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,613   +938

    I'm still rocking the LG G4. Meh...
    My next phone will be the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Samsung and Apple haven't held my attention for years.
  11. Footlong

    Footlong TS Addict Posts: 153   +81

    To me, the most interesting point in this survey is the value of the average smartphone The console industry was pushing for more expensive consoles arguing that people buy 1 thousand dollars phone, some times they buy even more expensive models. Turns out that they are a niche market.
    psycros likes this.
  12. Nobodysfool

    Nobodysfool TS Enthusiast Posts: 30   +28

    The s10e meets your criteria perfectly.
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  13. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,825   +2,672

    Clearly they need to come up with some real innovations to bring people back to the high end. I would suggest some daring innovations like physical portrait keyboards, removable batteries and wifi vidcasting.
    arrowflash and Theinsanegamer like this.
  14. GreenNova343

    GreenNova343 TS Guru Posts: 373   +258

    Unfortunately, the 3.5mm audio jack on the phone is going to be a lost cause. However, I understand where you're coming from, as we're looking at having to upgrade both of our iPhone 6 models (non-Plus, non-S) shortly. I've already replaced the battery once in mine, but more importantly my wife has issues with "static" lines showing up that will take up sometimes half the screen (she had the screen replaced a couple of years back). They're both well over 3 years old (our first smartphones), & essentially we're looking at either sticking with an "older" model & getting the iPhone 8 (identical dimensions to ours, just a faster chip & lacking the audio jack), or getting the XS (XR is too big).
  15. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 834   +730

    I recently replaced the battery in an iPhone 6, it was dead easy and battery life is fantastic again. Hold on to that 6S+.
  16. Stormbreaker

    Stormbreaker TS Enthusiast Posts: 21   +36

    Phone companies should be afraid to think about 1000$ phones.
  17. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 2,044   +1,560

    Mid-range phones and older flagship phones have enough performance already that you don't have to upgrade each year. It's not by accident companies introduced planned obsolescence to their products.

    As for Android phones and their lack of system updates, nothing has improved all that much in the latest version of Android. Security updates are pushed through Google Play regardless of Android version, or so I've heard.

    Maybe people would upgrade more if new phones were reasonably priced and if they reintroduced removable batteries, expandable storage and headphone jacks. I'm not getting a phone without a headphone jack. Phones being a fashion accessory more than a tool isn't paying off all that much it seems.
    arrowflash, ShagnWagn and BSim500 like this.
  18. Adi6293

    Adi6293 TS Maniac Posts: 261   +238

    Just get an Android phone because Apple will not bring back 3.5mm jack :)
  19. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 591   +502

    Only some security updates are pushed via Google Play, mainly anything that is related to Google services.

    If a vulnerability comes about that affects base-level software such as the OS kernel or even the baseband firmware then forget about it; the only way that can be patched is via an OTA update and for a lot of older Android phones, good luck with that.

    As much as people hate on Apple at least they support their devices from a software update standpoint the right way. iOS 13 will be supporting devices even as far back as the iPhone 6S and that was released four years ago. Talk about an amazing software update track record.

    What I do find to be amazing is that a lot of Android users practically forgive the OEMs for not supporting their older devices with a proper software update schedule yet if Microsoft did the same thing they'd be the first ones in Redmond, WA screaming bloody murder with pitchforks and torches. Double-standard much? I think so.
    Chidoro and Plutoisaplanet like this.
  20. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 2,044   +1,560

    From what I've seen most people complain about lack of updates on their Android phones. I personally don't care all that much. All the updates I did have didn't bring me anything interesting except bugs. When it comes to security, it can't be denied that it's an issue, but unless you're someone who's gonna be specifically targeted the chances of you getting hacked are about as high as winning the lottery.
  21. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 591   +502

    When it comes to security, I tend to not take chances. Not a day goes by when we don't hear of someone, some company, or some municipality being hacked, data stolen, etc. So with that in mind, I can't help but worry about device and software security.
  22. scavengerspc

    scavengerspc TS Enthusiast Posts: 36   +29

    Still have my Pixel 1 from 3 years ago. Battery really started to take a dump after about 18 months but a $45 power case took care of that.

    Considering the Pixel 4, Or 4a next year.
    Or maybe a Asus phone. Are those any good?
  23. DukeJukem

    DukeJukem TS Booster Posts: 122   +70

    Maybe if companies made worthwhile advancements every year people would be more inclined to upgrade. "pay us $1000 or more for a 200 mhz boost in processing speed with tweaks to the screen and camera with the same amount of ram or 2 gigs more thats nearly all used up by our bloated *** phone."
  24. Shoam

    Shoam TS Rookie

    Since when are 47% "Most people"? Saying that most people wait "at least 3 years" would be correct.

    And why is "3-5 years" a single category? It's safe to assume that between 30% and 35% of phone owners replace them after between three and four years, and between 12% and 17% replace them after between four and five years. In conclusion, people probably wait on average just more than three years.
  25. brucek

    brucek TS Maniac Posts: 199   +223

    Glad to see things are are moving towards sanity.

    At least in the US, I think a big part of the earlier, faster upgrade cycles was that it was bundled into your wireless plan. Your provider would offer you a new "free" phone every two years, the funding for which was baked into a high monthly bill, but in such a way that many people did not have an easily available less expensive option, or even realize it was happening at all. That's become less true over the past few years so it's not surprising behavior would change once consumers had a choice / knew what they were paying for.
    seeprime and Plutoisaplanet like this.

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