One in four smartphone owners waited more than three years to upgrade their last device, reports NPD

Port Washington, NY, June 28,
– Consumers in the U.S. are keeping their smartphones longer. According to the latest Mobile Connectivity Report from NPD Connected Intelligence, one in four (25 percent) smartphone owners held onto their last device for more than three years before upgrading, up from 18 percent two years prior (2H 2018 vs. 2H 2016).

When asked how long they have had their current device, 29 percent reported two years or longer, indicating that the majority of consumers may have another year or two before considering an upgrade. In fact, less than one-fifth of smartphone owners stated that they were ready to upgrade their device during the first half of 2019.

But what are consumers looking for when they decide to upgrade? According to NPD, of those intending to purchase a new smartphone in 1H 2019, 34 percent report being “extremely likely” to purchase a hero device1  when they are ready to upgrade. This number increases to 44 percent of millennials and 52 percent of smartphone users with a household income of $75-$99K.  

“Rising price tags, extended longevity of new generation devices, and lack of innovative features beyond imaging enhancements, are a few factors reducing consumer motivation to upgrade,” said Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “The emergence of 5G could help to accelerate upgrade cycles, as consumers will look to leverage faster speeds for mobile entertainment, but despite strong consumer awareness, this is expected to be a longer-term result.”

Nearly 2 out of 3 consumers, totaling 64 percent, reported awareness of 5G service and innovations at the end of the second half of 2018, up from 44 percent at the end of the first half of 2018. Alongside increasing awareness, purchase potential is strong, as 33 percent of smartphone owners report interest in purchasing a 5G-enabled smartphone once available. Millennials report the highest potential to make the move to 5G with nearly half (49 percent) indicating interest.

1Hero devices are defined as: Apple iPhone XS, XS Max,
XR or Samsung Galaxy S9, S10, Note 9

*Findings based
on postpaid users.


The results of the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Mobile Connectivity
are based on consumer panel research that reached 3,650 U.S. cellphone users, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. This survey was completed in February 2019.