We generally think of the smartphone upgrade cycle as being in that two-to-three-year range. It came about because the majority of new phones were tied to people's contract, and people waited until their contract was over to upgrade.
More and more buyers are now not tied in the same way, but the cycle also worked out well from a technological standpoint.
Two or three years is a long time in the tech world, and it gives the battery ample time to wear out and the display more than enough time to for the display to take on that scored and cratered look.
But could Apple have used a "cheat code" to essentially break the upgrade cycle by giving users a must-have feature?
That feature is extra battery life.
I covered this last week following the event. It's a significant and noticeable increase, not a couple of minutes here or there.
- iPhone 13: 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12
- iPhone 13 mini: 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 13 Pro: 1.5 hours than the iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 2.5 hours than the iPhone 12 Pro
In a newsletter sent out to Above Avalon subscribers, Apple-watcher Neil Cybart wrote that "[f]or some people, the better battery life found the iPhone 13 is enough to justify an upgrade from the iPhone 12."
Cybart goes on to say that "[t]his goes to show how difficult it is to generalize about who should or shouldn't upgrade iPhones and how frequently."
It's basically at the top of the list of why I'm upgrading.
A battery bump -- and a very significant one at that -- is an interesting thing for Apple to drop into an iPhone that's otherwise lackluster compared to its predecessor.
While Apple is exceptionally good at fiddling around the edges and making small evolutionary changes feel like massive revolutionary steps forward, the real show-stealing highlights of the iPhone 13 are improved battery life and a storage bump.
When it comes to sales, it's worth remembering that there's both supply and demand, and for the iPhone, it's a balancing act. Apple's 4Q21 financial year ends September 26th, and orders that have been placed before that date but not shipped until after will be deferred until 1Q22, so the next earnings release will give us an idea of how many iPhones Apple shipped on launch.
It'll also give us an indication of how constrained Apple's initial supply of iPhones was.
They seemed to move to a backorder beyond the September 24 launch day pretty quickly, which either indicates tight supplies or strong demand.
We'll have to wait and see.