are holding on to their aging smartphones longer,
squeezing out a few more months of use before trading
them in, a report indicates.
United States, iPhones traded in between July 1 and
Sept. 30 were 2.92 years old on average, up from 2.37
years old the comparable period two years earlier,
according to data from Hyla Mobile Inc.
users swapped their phones a little faster. At the time
of trade-in, the average Android phone was 2.66 years
old, up from 2.44 years old in the comparable period in
2016, Hyla said. Hyla, a company that focuses on the
secondary-use market for smartphones, provides analytics
and device trade-in programs for businesses.
said the rising cost of new smartphones might give U.S.
consumers pause when they’re deciding whether to
upgrade. The iPhone XS, for example, starts at $999. The
Samsung Galaxy S9 starts at $720. When the iPhone 7
debuted in 2016, it started at $649. That year, the
Samsung Galaxy S7 was released and sold for about $700
without a contract, though carriers offered discounts.
of rising costs, carriers have eliminated previous deals
that gave customers a subsidized phone upon signing a
two-year contract. That was financially viable for
carriers when phones cost $300 or $400, but not when
they cost $800 to $1,200, said Biju Nair, chief
executive of Hyla Mobile.
carriers now offer payment plans under which the buyer
of a phone can pay a monthly fee for a certain period of
time — say, two years — and then own it outright.
Some people aren’t eager to take on monthly fees for a
new phone right after they’ve paid off the last one.
your payments are done … all of a sudden, you don’t
have to pay that additional fee,” said Brad Akyuz,
research director for NPD Group’s connected
intelligence research practice. “(There’s a)
psychological impact there.”
a tech standpoint, the industry recently “hasn’t
seen a major innovation out there that would foster
users to immediately change their devices,” he said.
to phone features and specifications are often minimal
between generations of the same device, and better
software updates from Apple and Android have done a good
job of enabling older devices to access some of the same
features and security patches as newer phones, said
Anthony Scarsella, mobile phones research manager at
market intelligence firm IDC.
services have also sprouted up to keep older phones
working longer, he said. That might become an even
bigger factor in the future: This week, a rule change
took effect that makes it easier for people to fix their
own phones (or get a repair shop to do it) without
breaking copyright law.
the average consumer is looking at these prices and
looking at these features coming out of these new
phones, they’re kind of perceiving, ‘Well, is there
really that much difference?’ ” Nair said. “The
general sense is, ‘Well, my phone is currently good
said they expect this trend to continue, at least until
there is a major technological breakthrough. That might
happen next year when more 5G devices are introduced to
the market, Akyuz said.
when carriers can come up with a really solid value play
for 5G to have users understand why they should be
paying extra … we might be seeing users go off their
regular upgrade cycle,” he said.