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Americans are waiting three years to replace their phones, study finds

New phones' features aren't enough to convince consumers to get yearly upgrades.

LumiNola via Getty Images
LumiNola via Getty Images
Mariella Moon
Mariella Moon|@mariella_moon|August 23, 2019 11:45 AM

A new study released by Strategy Analytics reflects the current state of the smartphone industry. Apparently, consumers in the US -- Baby Boomers, in particular -- are increasingly delaying their smartphone purchase for three or more years. In addition, the average iPhone now remains active for 18 months, while the average Samsung phone remains active for 16.5. The era of yearly phone upgrades is over. Smartphone shipments have been dropping around the world over the past year, and some analysts even believe the industry is bound to suffer its worst decline ever in the coming months.

Strategy Analytics conducted an online survey with 2,500 smartphone owners aged 18 to 64 years old in the US. Company SVP David Kerr explained that there are several reasons behind consumers' decision not upgrade as quickly as they did in the past. To start with, buyers perceive newer phones' offerings as marginal upgrades not worth getting a new device for.

The increasing prices of flagship devices are also proving to be prohibitive -- in fact, Kerr believes that prices for 5G phones would be a key barrier in their adoption, even though a lot of people understand how important the feature is. Customers who spend over $1,000 on phones and who'll likely purchase a 5G device when it becomes available only make up 7 percent of the people the firm surveyed.

Since smartphone shipments have been suffering for quite a while, tech giants like Apple are already looking for other ways to generate revenue, such as launching TV and music services. If Samsung and Apple do come up with a particularly impressive phone, though, buyers might give in and purchase one earlier than they were planning to: the study says their fans have strong brand loyalty, with 70 percent expressing interest in a repeat purchase. Samsung seems to be particularly popular among Gen Xers, while Gen Zers prefer Apple.

Americans are waiting three years to replace their phones, study finds