U.S. phone owners holding on to old devices far longer than ever – study

MANILA, Philippines – A recent study from mobile trade-in company Hyla Mobile suggests that the time Americans hold on to their old phones has gotten longer compared to previous years.

According to the data, the average age of an iPhone before it’s traded in is 2.92 years old. The current average is longer compared to the previous average of 2.37 years recorded two years earlier.

Android owners, meanwhile, trade in their phones a little faster with an average of age 2.66 years. Similar to iPhones, the average age of Android phones rose in the last two years. It previously recorded an average age 2.44 years in 2016.

Overall, Americans hang on to their old phones at an average of 2.83 years before they decide to upgrade.

Analysts have reportedly attributed this to recent price hikes of smartphones. Due to these price increases, carriers no longer offer a subsidized phone for customers who sign a two-year contract, as cited by Biju Nair, chief executive of Hyla Mobile.

Carriers instead offer postpaid packages that require customers an initial cashout and a monthly payment plan to own a phone.

Brad Akyuz, research director for market research company NPD Group, added that the industry has stagnated in terms of innovation that would push consumers to immediately want to own a newly launched device.

“When 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 enough.’”

Repair services may have also been a factor as it keeps old phones working longer – sometimes for just a fraction of the price of a new phone.

Akyuz expects this trend to continue until the next major technological breakthrough which he believes is the rollout of 5G sometime next year.

“If and 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.  – Rappler.com