New research from Strategy Analytics confirmed anecdotal reports from smartphone vendors and operators that upgrade cycles continue to lengthen, finding consumers now wait nearly three years before replacing their device.
A survey of 2,500 US smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 64 determined the average replacement cycle is now 33 months, thanks in part to rising prices and a perceived lack of innovation.
David Kerr, Strategy Analytics SVP, said in a statement operators and vendors alike “face significant inertia given consumer perception of diminishing innovation or marginal value add in successive generations of flagship devices”. He added pricing will be a “key barrier” for 5G device uptake, given only 7 per cent of customers surveyed said they planned to spend $1000 or more on a new device.
The analyst company previously predicted US operators will have to bring back device subsidy offers in order to spur 5G upgrades.
Counterpoint Research highlighted similar trends in a report noting sell-through rates in the US dropped 1.5 per cent year-on-year in Q2. It added upgrade rates averaged just 4.5 per cent among the top four operators in the country, with longer upgrade cycles particularly prevalent among higher-cost devices.
While OnePlus, Google, Alcatel, Motorola and Coolpad all posted significant growth in Q2 thanks in part to strength in prepaid channels, Samsung lost ground as sales of its Galaxy S10 flagship slowed. Apple managed to squeeze out some gains as sales of its low-end iPhone XR and older models picked up, the report said.