A new survey finds that Americans are delaying their smartphone upgrades for three years. Is this a reflection of the smartphone industry’s current state?

Smartphone Replacement Cycle

There are always new smartphones being developed, from ones with more advanced capabilities to foldable ones. In the past, many people choose to upgrade their phones when a newer version drops, meaning that they basically upgrade nearly every year. However, despite the introduction of new smartphones every few months or so, a recent survey revealed that many Americans are actually keeping their smartphones for much longer than they used to.

In 2013 and 2014, the replacement cycle time for smartphones was under 20 months, and by 2018, U.S. consumers were found to hold on to their phones for an average of 27.9 months. That number still significantly increased in 2019 as a recent survey found that many users are now keeping their phones for an average of 32.9 months, with Baby Boomers keeping them longest at 39.7 months.

In fact, according to the latest data from Strategy Analytics, 1 in 5 Caucasians are actually intending to keep their units for more than three years, and even longer for Baby Boomers, or those 55 to 64 years of age.

Smartphone Industry

What does this mean for the smartphone industry? The average Apple smartphone has been active for 18 months, while the average Samsung smartphone has been active for 16.5 months. The smartphone industry has been in decline for a while now, and the data from the survey does reflect that.

There may be several reasons why people would rather keep their phones for three years than upgrade as soon as a newer version is released, and one major reason could be a lack of motivation and the increase in prices. With smartphone prices getting higher and people having to pay full price for the devices, it is likely that consumers just opt to stick with their current phones than spend more money on phones with no major innovations.

“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,” said Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics.

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