Smartphone upgrade cycles are still on the rise

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,446   +1,029
Staff member
In context: Remember when we used to buy the next generation of [insert favorite brand here] smartphone every couple of years? That's not happening anymore. Price and quality have increased to the point that the next generation is just not as exciting as it was. Once 5G coverage improves, we might see a resurgence, but for how long?

Last year, we reported that projections showed mobile upgrade cycles stretching to 33 months this year — up from 31 months in 2018. However, a new study from NPD indicates that users are holding on to their smartphones even longer.

According to the Mobile Connectivity Report released on Friday, less than 20 percent of device owners are ready for an upgrade. Another 25 percent said they had held on to their previous device for more than three years before getting a new one, which is up 18 percent from two years ago (2H 2018 vs. 2H 2016).

Furthermore, 29 percent report that they have had their current phones for two years or more. Less than one-fifth of those surveyed said they would be upgrading in 2019.

The lack of user enthusiasm has been growing. It comes in part to the high price points we see these days for flagship devices. The other part of the equation is a lack of real innovation and poor design choices. People just are not willing to drop $1,000 on a phone every two years, especially when the features and aesthetics are not that exciting.

"The results of the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Mobile Connectivity Report are based on consumer panel research that reached 3,650 U.S. cellphone users, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. "

“Rising price tags, extended longevity of new generation devices, and lack of innovative features beyond imaging enhancements are a few factors reducing consumer motivation to upgrade,” said NPD Connected Intelligence Executive Director Brad Akyuz.

So what do they want? NPD notes that of those who indicated that they were interested in upgrading in 1H 2019, 34 percent were looking at the current offerings from Apple and Samsung (not next-gen). That number increases to 44 percent among millennials and 52 percent for those with annual household incomes above $75,000.

The coming of 5G service seems to be the only thing on the horizon that can reinvigorate next-gen sales.

“The emergence of 5G could help to accelerate upgrade cycles, as consumers will look to leverage faster speeds for mobile entertainment, but despite strong consumer awareness, this is expected to be a longer-term result,” said Akyuz.

Indeed, a full 64 percent of respondents said they were aware of 5G service and its advantages in 2H 2018. This number is up from 44 percent in 1H 2018, and would probably be even higher now. A third of smartphone owners are “interested” in upgrading to 5G-enabled devices.

However, with its currently extremely limited coverage, being interested in and actually buying 5G devices are two entirely different things.

Permalink to story.

 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,085
Samsung purposefully made the screens on the S8 brittle and prone to being busted. Mine kept cracking so bad I had no choice to upgrade. Otherwise there was no reason to. Congratz samsung... you know how to piss off your customers well.
 

noel24

Posts: 800   +1,047
Nokia 3120 2005-2014 $250
S4 GT-i9506 2014-2018 $350
S7 SM-G930F 2018-???? $350 How Todd Howard would say: It just works!!!
Actually, today, hardly anyone needs anything above $150 Motorola G7.
 

slamscaper

Posts: 276   +84
Honestly, what do they expect? Do they really think most people are going to drop $1000 every two years for a smartphone??? I bought the Galaxy Note 8 about 4 months after it launched through Xfinity mobile (changed from T-mobile as I was a long time customer of theirs) and it cost me $1000. My previous phone was the Note 5 BTW. Anyway, I recently received the Android Pie update for the Note 8 and this thing runs like a dream. 2960 x 1440 resolution, Snapdragon 835 Octo-core CPU at 2.45Ghz, 10nm Adreno 540 GPU with 256 SIMD's@710Mhz (567 GFLOPS) with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, and DirectX 12, 6GB of LPDDR4 (29.8GB/s), 64GB of storage with an SD slot that can take up to 256GB on a two lane UFS 2.1 connection.

Not even gonna get into the camera specs and all, let's just say it's pretty damn good and records 4K video that looks great (even shoots in RAW format after the latest update), plus this handset has all the bells and whistles like fast wireless charging and is IP58 certified, so it's basically completely waterproof. The aesthetics are beautiful with an AMOLED screen that has a radius on both edges. The aircraft grade aluminum frame is sandwiched between two pieces of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 that's on the front AND back. It's incredibly sleek and powerful.

Now I am looking forward to the Note 10, but also looking at what Google's next Pixel model will be like too. If the Note 10 woos me, I might as well upgrade to it because I'll likely have this paid off by then. But if it doesn't, I'll save money for a while and continue on with this beast of a phone. Since I finally got the update to Pie I'm really loving the phone even more.

I just hope this trend doesn't start some type of shenanigans where the vendors will stop releasing the latest Android versions unless you upgrade your hardware. I don't think that will happen, because there will always be a few that will update their devices and everyone will flock to them.

The bottom line is modern smartphones are already incredibly powerful so unless they can perfect the fold-able phones soon, I don't think there will be a change here.
 
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Adi6293

Posts: 931   +1,309
I've got Sony XZ Premium for 25 months now ( I think ) and I'm hoping to keep it for another 12 if not 24 before an upgrade :)
 

psycros

Posts: 4,073   +5,592
The problem is really the form factor itself: a small device with limited runtime. You can't run serous apps on a device like that because the battery won't last and touch input doesn't lend itself to anything complex. This means that apps will keep being the relatively simple programs they are, which means they aren't pushing continual CPU and RAM upgrades. So what's left for manufacturers to tout? Well, I have a few ideas:

* Thicker phones with more battery. Seriously, almost nobody cares about thinness but we all want longer runtimes.

* Bring back physical keyboards. Every time I whip out my S7 with its keyboard accessory the millenials are blown away and they ALL say they want something like that, esp. the girls with their longer nails. Real keys have been absent long enough that it would be seen as a hip retro thing and the older folks would flock to whoever made an *affordable* device (because Blackberry doesn't seem interested in delivering). Portrait QWERTY would probably be more popular but you could stick a d-button on the side of a landscape slider k/b and probably reignite the Sidekick vibe. Gamers would probably adore it because it would double as a controller, eliminating the need for onscreen controls.

* Easier-to-use and safer Android: nobody likes redundant apps and bloatware..unless they actually improve the experience. I would personally LOVE a friendlier, more usable Android UI. Giant labels next to microscopic buttons is terrible design. Apple does NOT have a patent on labeled buttons so that would be a great way to improve usability while increasing screen real estate. Include a better note-taking app than Keep and sync it to a website or desktop app and I'm sold. How about some apps that don't have stupid floating buttons covering up what I need to see? Or an an email app that doesn't have a giant useless colored letter next to each message that tells me NOTHING? But above all, give me apps that are PRIVATE. If I know that my data isn't being collected and sold to every identity thief and spammer on Earth I will be far more likely to use that program than anything Google provides.
 

Fuzzy Dunalap

Posts: 28   +55
"Niggas is broke these days!"
-Smokey, Friday.

One thing I see that is not mentioned that smart phones sales could have slowed down since the carrier subsidies ended. They have great phones available in every budget. The nature of online connectivity has made a smart phone a necessity in America.

IMO, the industry has reached a point that SoC upgrades each generation used to bring isn't worth the price of admission.
 

Andromadus

Posts: 22   +14
Honestly, what do they expect? Do they really think most people are going to drop $1000 every two years for a smartphone??? I bought the Galaxy Note 8 about 4 months after it launched through Xfinity mobile (changed from T-mobile as I was a long time customer of theirs) and it cost me $1000. My previous phone was the Note 5 BTW. Anyway, I recently received the Android Pie update for the Note 8 and this thing runs like a dream. 2960 x 1440 resolution, Snapdragon 835 Octo-core CPU at 2.45Ghz, 10nm Adreno 540 GPU with 256 SIMD's@710Mhz (567 GFLOPS) with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, and DirectX 12, 6GB of LPDDR4 (29.8GB/s), 64GB of storage with an SD slot that can take up to 256GB on a two lane UFS 2.1 connection.

Not even gonna get into the camera specs and all, let's just say it's pretty damn good and records 4K video that looks great (even shoots in RAW format after the latest update), plus this handset has all the bells and whistles like fast wireless charging and is IP58 certified, so it's basically completely waterproof. The aesthetics are beautiful with an AMOLED screen that has a radius on both edges. The aircraft grade aluminum frame is sandwiched between two pieces of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 that's on the front AND back. It's incredibly sleek and powerful.

Now I am looking forward to the Note 10, but also looking at what Google's next Pixel model will be like too. If the Note 10 woos me, I might as well upgrade to it because I'll likely have this paid off by then. But if it doesn't, I'll save money for a while and continue on with this beast of a phone. Since I finally got the update to Pie I'm really loving the phone even more.

I just hope this trend doesn't start some type of shenanigans where the vendors will stop releasing the latest Android versions unless you upgrade your hardware. I don't think that will happen, because there will always be a few that will update their devices and everyone will flock to them.

The bottom line is modern smartphones are already incredibly powerful so unless they can perfect the fold-able phones soon, I don't think there will be a change here.

DirectX 12? Lol...
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,474   +6,255
The nature of online connectivity has made a smart phone a necessity in America.
That's what they want everyone to think, IMO.

I upgraded a couple of months ago from a Samsung Smiley https://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=2593 that I had for 7-years to a 64GB Moto X4 that was on sale for 1/2 off at $200. The X4 has a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 630 processor with 2.2 GHz Octa-core CPU and 650 MHz Adreno 508 GPU. For me, this is way more than enough.

And to top that off, I never had a data plan with the Smiley and I did not get one with the X4. The X4 has 530 Mbps Wi-Fi and with Wi-Fi everywhere, I did not see the need for a data plan - not to mention, I was absolutely not going to pay for data when I would barely use it anyway. What's the point?

I barely leave the X4 on as I did with the Smiley. I am living perfectly fine without the proboscis stuck in my wallet and sucking my cash out every month for something that I would barely use. I am on a T-mobile pay-as-you-go plan that I grandfathered onto the new phone.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,474   +6,255
* Bring back physical keyboards. Every time I whip out my S7 with its keyboard accessory the millenials are blown away and they ALL say they want something like that, esp. the girls with their longer nails. Real keys have been absent long enough that it would be seen as a hip retro thing and the older folks would flock to whoever made an *affordable* device (because Blackberry doesn't seem interested in delivering). Portrait QWERTY would probably be more popular but you could stick a d-button on the side of a landscape slider k/b and probably reignite the Sidekick vibe. Gamers would probably adore it because it would double as a controller, eliminating the need for onscreen controls.
Your post reminded me that I have a bluetooth keyboard that I bought many moons ago for my Pocket PC. (Yes, you read that right! :laughing:) I'll have to get that out and see if I can pair it with the X4.
 

Danny101

Posts: 2,026   +838
I bought my fist smartphone in the fall of 2014, a ZTE 4.2 in. ($50) that I hooked up to Tracfone. I was fine with it until the spring of 2015 when I started using Pandora and needed more data. I also busted the screen, so after much research I settled on a Blu Studio 5.0 HD ($150) and switched to Cricket Wireless. It was a good phone until 3 mo. later when I waded into the river with it in my pocket. :p. So I got another one ($150), but it was never really as good as the first. It too fell too many times while charging and messed up the connection so it wouldn't charge anymore by the middle of 2016. I again went with Blu and settled on Vivo XL ($150). It worked fine as well but again in Sept. of 2017, it too stopped charging because of the connection. Mostly due to falling while charging, my fault again. I again went with Blu and got a Vivo 8L ($250), slower than the Vivo 8 but with a bigger battery. I managed to keep it working for 1 yr and 9 mo. More careful with the connection but it slipped out of my hand getting out a car and busted the screen on the payment. Now I went with Motorola G7 Power ($260 + $80 (2 yr accidental breakage with Best Buy) and waiting on a screen and case protector to arrive. That which I did not have for the Blu Vivo 8L because it ran too hot. An issue that I should not have with the G7 Power. As you can see, all of my upgrades have been due to breakage of the phone and my lack of protection for them. Hopefully, I can get 4-5 years out of the G7, but I'm slow to hold my breath. What I will do is to be generous with protection schemes if each case doesn't measure up and make me comfortable that it will protect my phone. After 5 years, except for the first year, I'm averaging about $150 a year on a cell phone. The longer I can make a phone last, the less cost of ownership per year I can average on one. I'm now more careful on where I place a phone while charging, I don't step out of a car anymore with my phone in hand, and I wrap it in a plastic bag when heading to the water. My phone handling skills has not yet permitted me to justify anything much more than a $300 phone let alone $1000 phone. Good luck in your experience.
 
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Danny101

Posts: 2,026   +838
I'm still a bit miffed that we can't get tablets with the same kind of power and prices. Other than bigger screens and lacking of cell data, there's no real difference. So why are tablets so anemic on power?
 

slamscaper

Posts: 276   +84
DirectX 12? Lol...

Yes, actually the Adreno 540 does fully support DX12. Not on Android of course, but it supports it on Windows 10, which does actually run on the ARM architecture now.

In fact, I believe the Snapdragon 835 is the first ARM SoC to run Windows 10. Go ahead and fact check me on that and I bet you'll find I'm correct.
 
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slamscaper

Posts: 276   +84
I'm still a bit miffed that we can't get tablets with the same kind of power and prices. Other than bigger screens and lacking of cell data, there's no real difference. So why are tablets so anemic on power?

I'm actually a bit more miffed as to why we aren't seeing more OLED computer monitors. OLED is an order of magnitude better than LCD in every way. The burn-in issues have been mitigated, as have been shown with some of the latest smartphones that use AMOLED screens and look beautiful. We have some OLED HDTV's and they are simply the best TV's out right now according to all the reviews (and I've witnessed their image quality at the store).

I know manufacturing costs are still high, but you'd think we would be seeing some OLED based computer monitors for gamers and everyone alike. There is a new Dell XPS laptop out with a 4K OLED screen, so perhaps this is the start.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,474   +6,255
I'm still a bit miffed that we can't get tablets with the same kind of power and prices. Other than bigger screens and lacking of cell data, there's no real difference. So why are tablets so anemic on power?

I'm actually a bit more miffed as to why we aren't seeing more OLED computer monitors. OLED is an order of magnitude better than LCD in every way. The burn-in issues have been mitigated, as have been shown with some of the latest smartphones that use AMOLED screens and look beautiful. We have some OLED HDTV's and they are simply the best TV's out right now according to all the reviews (and I've witnessed their image quality at the store).

I know manufacturing costs are still high, but you'd think we would be seeing some OLED based computer monitors for gamers and everyone alike. There is a new Dell XPS laptop out with a 4K OLED screen, so perhaps this is the start.
They are on the way - https://www.oled-info.com/oled-monitor
 
D

DelJo63

I'm actually a bit more miffed as to why we aren't seeing more OLED computer monitors. OLED is an order of magnitude better than LCD in every way. The burn-in issues have been mitigated, as have been shown with some of the latest smartphones that use AMOLED screens and look beautiful. We have some OLED HDTV's and they are simply the best TV's out right now according to all the reviews (and I've witnessed their image quality at the store).

I know manufacturing costs are still high, but you'd think we would be seeing some OLED based computer monitors for gamers and everyone alike. There is a new Dell XPS laptop out with a 4K OLED screen, so perhaps this is the start.
Some Googling on "OLED color shift" will disclose that over time, OLED will shift to a purple hue.

Also, In ‘burn-in,’ the screen shows a faint remnant of an older image even after a new image appears on the display. Apple describes it as an “expected behavior.” The ‘burn-in’ issue is more likely to occur when the same high-contrast image is displayed for a prolonged period.

No thanks, I'll stick with LED technology
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,317   +5,505
Doesnt surprise me at all.

I remember my first smartphone, a nexus 5, and how it felt after a few years. It was fine processor wise, but the battery and chassis were falling apart.

Now, my moto z play is approaching 3 years old. Still worked perfectly, still gets 15-16 hrs of LTE video streaming on a charge with dual batteries. Sure, its not updated anymore, but so what? All the new apps coming out still run on it, and likely will for another 3-4 years without any issues. Modern phones do not get appreciably better battery life, and processors were good enough 4 years ago. The ROM matters a lot more, and these motos are running stock android, so they run smooth as butter. The most phone I or most people would need now are a moto G7, or G7 power if you want long battery life. There is just no need to upgrade every 2 years, especially with contacts slowly dying.

I'm still a bit miffed that we can't get tablets with the same kind of power and prices. Other than bigger screens and lacking of cell data, there's no real difference. So why are tablets so anemic on power?

I'm actually a bit more miffed as to why we aren't seeing more OLED computer monitors. OLED is an order of magnitude better than LCD in every way. The burn-in issues have been mitigated, as have been shown with some of the latest smartphones that use AMOLED screens and look beautiful. We have some OLED HDTV's and they are simply the best TV's out right now according to all the reviews (and I've witnessed their image quality at the store).

I know manufacturing costs are still high, but you'd think we would be seeing some OLED based computer monitors for gamers and everyone alike. There is a new Dell XPS laptop out with a 4K OLED screen, so perhaps this is the start.
You would be miffed because you seem to be ignoring facts. Like the fact that OLEDs will still burn in over time, so something that doesnt move, like the windows taskbbar or part of a console UI will ABSOLUTELY burn into an OLED monitor over time. I dont know where you got "its been mitigated" from, but that is an absolute lie.

OLED's also have purple shift issues, not to mention they look a little bit better, but their black level improvements do not justify the insane price differences and burn in problems VS VA panels. The same thing killed plasma TVs back in the day, better image quality but with a high pricetag and longevity issues.

LED is good enough for most people, especially those of us that dont replace their monitors every 3-4 years.
 

slamscaper

Posts: 276   +84
Some Googling on "OLED color shift" will disclose that over time, OLED will shift to a purple hue.

Also, In ‘burn-in,’ the screen shows a faint remnant of an older image even after a new image appears on the display. Apple describes it as an “expected behavior.” The ‘burn-in’ issue is more likely to occur when the same high-contrast image is displayed for a prolonged period.

No thanks, I'll stick with LED technology

It has very little to do with any of that. It's likely high manufacturing costs keeping it from happening. OLED is LEAGUES better than LCD. The burn in has been mitigated, hence the reason some of the best smartphones use OLED screens, not to mention some high-end laptops. If you think LCD is a better tech, you simply are uneducated on the matter.
 
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slamscaper

Posts: 276   +84
Doesnt surprise me at all.

I remember my first smartphone, a nexus 5, and how it felt after a few years. It was fine processor wise, but the battery and chassis were falling apart.

Now, my moto z play is approaching 3 years old. Still worked perfectly, still gets 15-16 hrs of LTE video streaming on a charge with dual batteries. Sure, its not updated anymore, but so what? All the new apps coming out still run on it, and likely will for another 3-4 years without any issues. Modern phones do not get appreciably better battery life, and processors were good enough 4 years ago. The ROM matters a lot more, and these motos are running stock android, so they run smooth as butter. The most phone I or most people would need now are a moto G7, or G7 power if you want long battery life. There is just no need to upgrade every 2 years, especially with contacts slowly dying.


You would be miffed because you seem to be ignoring facts. Like the fact that OLEDs will still burn in over time, so something that doesnt move, like the windows taskbbar or part of a console UI will ABSOLUTELY burn into an OLED monitor over time. I dont know where you got "its been mitigated" from, but that is an absolute lie.

OLED's also have purple shift issues, not to mention they look a little bit better, but their black level improvements do not justify the insane price differences and burn in problems VS VA panels. The same thing killed plasma TVs back in the day, better image quality but with a high pricetag and longevity issues.

LED is good enough for most people, especially those of us that dont replace their monitors every 3-4 years.


I'm not ignoring any facts. I have ample experience with all sorts of LCD tech, including S-IPS, H-IPS, AS-IPS, and all forms of PVA and TN panels. Early models of OLED had burn in issues and a very low life for displaying blue color, but that isn't the case today. Phones like Samsung's best (including my Galaxy Note 8) and the best rated HDTV's, which are OLED sets from LG are simply breathtaking and called "the best displays availalbe" by all the experts, and I happen to agree. It's just they are expensive, but I am suspecting that prices are dropping since we are seeing OLED used in more high-end laptops, like Dell's new XPS model.

"Purple crush" is limited to older VA LCD panels and doesn't apply to OLED BTW.
 
D

DelJo63

If you think LCD is a better tech, you simply are uneducated on the matter.
Why make this personal? You are entitled to your opinion as am I & btw, google finds many things of interest, including OLED color shift.
 
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