The vast majority of us still only buy a new smartphone once every 2+ years (poll results)

The vast majority of us still only buy a new smartphone once every 2+ years (poll results)
With the process of commodization of the smartphone well underway, and with carrier programs the like of Verizon's Edge and AT&T's Next, you'd think that the majority of us have cut down on their phone's life cycle. According to the results of our poll yesterday, however, we're not quite there yet.

Nearly 3,000 of our readers participated in the survey. Of those, a little over 1,000 (~35%) indicated that they only update their device once every two years, in line with traditional 2-year carrier contracts. Next up, we've got folks who like upgrading every year (~27%), closely followed by those among us that buy a new smartphone once in more than two years (~24%). The rest of the votes are about evenly split across the three remaining categories. That may sound like a minority — and by itself each group is — but together makes up for about 14% of the total voting base, which is not to be ignored.

It'll be interesting to see if this ratio holds going forward. As one of our readers astutely noted in the comment section under the original post, there are no guarantees that upgrade programs will necessarily make much of a difference in the future. Why? Simple: As smartphones continue to improve, so will subsequent gains in areas such as system performance be less and less noticeable, partially diminishing the appeal of newer and newer tech. Do you agree?

How often do you buy a new smartphone?

Every ~3 months
4.25%
Every ~6 months
5.4%
Every ~9 months
4.15%
Every year
26.91%
Every two years
35.47%
Once in more than two years
23.82%

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14 Comments

1. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

IMO 2 years ago was that moment when smartphones became so capable that they don't need to be replaced unless some serious damage happen. In my family there are phones like Z2, G2, Lumia 1020 and nobody wants to buy new phones this year (our contract ends in December). Phones like Nexus 5, Note 3, 5S, M7 or my beloved Optimus G are still very capable devices and with minimal effort of flashing custom ROMs you can give them second life.

2. Tizo101

Posts: 515; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

I completely agree but let's not forget that some people buy phones because of how they look instead of what is inside. I see stylish designs keeping things exciting.

3. King_bilo

Posts: 115; Member since: May 20, 2015

60% wow.

4. NewroticSlob

Posts: 181; Member since: May 09, 2013

With the level of build quality that most builders are using, it'll be difficult to push practical-thinking customers to buy a new phone.

5. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 960; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Because I'm on a concessions line, I save a ton of money on my phone bill every year, enough to buy a phone once a year. Sometimes it's hard to wait the entire year though, but I likely won't get another until the Note 6 is out. Note 5 is treating me very well.

6. Sovat_fc

Posts: 224; Member since: Aug 30, 2014

Buy a new smartphone once every 3 months? WTF

7. Life_Engineer

Posts: 37; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

Yes i buy a phone every 6 months! It's an addiction, sadly!

12. Jason78

Posts: 281; Member since: Apr 10, 2013

I don't but a new smarphone every 3 months but I usually buy a different phone, used off EBay, every 3 months or so. I use them for a while until something new catches my eye and then I sell them on Ebay for almost what I paid for them. For example, last week I purchased a used 64 GB Nexus 6 for $250 in mint condition (MSRP $700 a year ago) and a Nokia Lumia 1520 in mint condition for $150 (MSRP $750 2 years ago)

8. Deca-core

Posts: 75; Member since: Nov 20, 2015

Smartphones will start to lag after an year or two thanks to software upgrades.Its a process every company follows/does.

9. Plutonium239

Posts: 1144; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Those issues are present with Android and IOS, not Windows Phone(Windows Mobile) or BlackBerry OS. Apple is the most guilty of planned obsolescence, it is blatantly clear, each OS upgrade on an Idevice reduces the battery life noticeably, and starts to cause lag.

15. Nabil111

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

I think its more the case with optimization. Look at the leap when the OG Moto X went from KK to lollipop and all the people that flashed custom ROMs and went back cause once the optimization was gone, the lack of hardware really shined through. While those dual core Cyclone chips Apple is using are Swift, there's only so many straws that camel's back can bare... Plus, why spend time optimizing for an old platform? They're in the business of making money! lol

11. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

I'll upgrade every 1.5 years.

10. ecdye

Posts: 4; Member since: Nov 24, 2015

I agree with Wiencon, and am using a 2yr old Nexus 5 with 4.4.4, with a new one with 5.1 as a spare. Comparing the N5 to, say, an S6 I see no reason to replace it--except--the N5 doesn't do Tmo's band 12, or WiFi calling. For those capabilities a replacement might be worthwhile in a year or so. But I find the performance, screen size, robustness, etc. of the N5 very satisfactory.

14. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 636; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

Yup I'll never want to upgrade from my current phone unless manufacturers start doing the right thing and putting KitKat on their new flagship devices.

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