Data shows fewer Americans are upgrading their smartphones as carriers launch new programs

Summary:T-Mobile and AT&T just rolled out programs to help people upgrade their phones more often as data shows that fewer are finding the need to upgrade more than every two years.

Data shows fewer Americans are upgrading their smartphones as carriers launch new programs
Image: Nokia

Both T-Mobile and AT&T announced programs to encourage more frequent smartphone upgrades, at a premium price. According to data reported in this Wall Street Journal article, Americans are upgrading their devices less often as innovation slows and current smartphones are more than adequate for their needs.

Since I cover smartphones here, I tend to upgrade more often than regular consumers. However, I have indeed noticed a slowdown in smartphone purchases that I have made over the past year and am regularly keeping phones for more than six months and sometimes up to a year.

James requested reader feedback in his next big thing in smartphones post and it is tough to come up with the next big "wow" factor that will have people upgrading more often. Most all smartphones have great displays, decent cameras, ability to run thousands of apps and cool designs.

US carriers, other than T-Mobile, heavily subsidize phones, so they haven't made it easy to upgrade in the past. The new AT&T program, when compared to T-Mobile, charges the customer for the price of the phone while also essentially charging the customer the subsidy as well (it is rolled into the higher monthly plan fees). In order for people to jump on this plan, there have to be devices that encourage more frequent upgrades. 

Manufacturers are trying to innovate, but the laws of physics also apply and there are limitations. We are seeing refinements in devices with just a few innovations, such as the Nokia Lumia 1020 camera or the HTC One camera utilities . How often do you upgrade your smartphone? Have you noticed a slowdown in your upgrade habits?

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones


Matthew Miller started using mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host, with ZDNet's Kevin Tofel, of the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned more than 2... Full Bio

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