Editorials

The Shifting Timeline on Upgrading Your Smartphone

When smartphones became a must-have feature several years ago, you would often find people swapping out one model for another on a regular basis. In fact, this was a rather common occurrence. These days, though, you may be hesitant to upgrade your phone as quickly. 

At the same time, it is only natural to wonder – how often should you upgrade your smartphone? Do you still need to advance to a new model each year? Or, can you hold onto your current device a little bit longer? Let’s get to the bottom of this mystery. 

Breaking Down World Trends 

First, let’s take a look at how long the rest of the world is holding onto their smartphones for. According to a report published in 2019, the average person is waiting over 33 months before buying a new phone. In some demographics, this number is actually over 3 years. This means that the yearly upgrade is losing traction around the world. 

Now, this is happening for a couple of different reasons. To begin with, smartphones are more expensive than ever before. Adding to this is the fact that many cellphone carriers aren’t subsidizing the prices as they once used to. This means that the customer is bearing the brunt of the cost. Needless to say, this makes them think twice before splurging on a new device. 

The Pandemic Has Shed New Light on the Situation

Last year, phone releases were an anticipated event. Not only did companies hype up the new releases, but these releases also took place like clockwork. This meant that the top phone companies like iPhone and Samsung were battling it out against one another. 

2020, however, brought an entirely new set of circumstances to the table. With lockdowns, production slowdowns, and an uncertain economic climate, these releases either didn’t take place or weren’t that anticipated to begin with. 

And since they didn’t get their phones as they usually did, this proved something rather interesting to consumers. It showed that this yearly upgrades weren’t as necessary as everyone thought. Even without them taking place, people were still able to happily use their current phones. This highlighted the fact that new devices weren’t always as cracked up to be as the average consumer imagined. 

Consumers are Becoming Savvier Phone Uses 

There’s no denying that people are now far better at using tech and their phones than they were before. As a result, they have gotten better at setting up their phone so that they can get more from it. And, even if you aren’t a tech whiz, there are plenty of guides to phone hacks available to you. 

This has a few different implications. Since people can get their smartphones to work better, there aren’t in as much of a rush to replace their current phones. At the same time, it also means that people are more engaged with their current model. As they are learning new elements to it, they can continue to be surprised and amazed at what it can do for them. Once again, this nullifies the need for a new model. 

Smartphone Innovation Isn’t What It Used to Be 

Perhaps one of the main reasons that the upgrade frenzy has slowed down is because smartphone innovation slowed down first. In the beginning, new models had vastly different features than their old prototypes. So, it was a case of you snooze, you lose – people were practically obligated to buy these new phones. 

Over the last few years, though, smartphones have more or less been peaking. Sure, the newer models do have new features, but they just aren’t as impressive as they used to be. Thus, it isn’t quite as fun to buy a new phone and then spend hours testing it out and seeing what it is capable of. 

This, combined with rising prices of smartphones, means that consumers are spending their money more cautiously. Most people would rather hold onto their phone for now and only really splurge when the features are worthwhile. 

Phones Users Aren’t Swayed as Easily

On a similar note, the average smartphone user is getting a great deal smarter when it comes to phone features. Once upon a time, it would have been easy to impress someone with random features. This isn’t really the case anymore. 

This has largely to do with the fact that people tend to take their smartphone use more seriously. These days, a smartphone is a social network, business tool, personal assistant, and laptop all rolled into one. Thus, people are far more concerned with functionality. 

The average consumer is only going to buy a new smartphone if they can guarantee that it is going to make their life easier. Therefore, they are looking for features such as greater efficiency, functional apps, etc. If this isn’t being offered, then many people just aren’t interested. 

And, for the most part, smartphone companies aren’t really doing their part here. If you were to take a close look at most of the upgrades in newer models, they are either minor or unnecessary. In short, they aren’t a good enough reason for most people to spend money on a new phone. 

The Takeaway 

So, what’s the takeaway from all of this information presented here? Well, it is clear that people are holding onto their smartphones longer than they did before. And, as the pandemic shows, yearly releases aren’t all that necessary. In fact, due to the new state of affairs, phone manufacturers may be making some changes to their schedules as well. 

Over the next few years, it is quite possible that phone releases will be a great deal more staggered than they are now. In turn, this means fewer new models, but better upgrades. How this scenario may affect consumer trends, though, is difficult to say. 

If each new model has more discernible and functional features, they may buy phones on a more regular basis than they are now. However, this does depend on the price and economic situation. If these don’t hold steady, then people may continue to upgrade their phones on a less frequent basis. Only time will tell here.

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