How Long Do People Keep Their Cell Phones For And Why


How many years have you had your current cell phone for? Are you someone who loves to upgrade every year, swapping your device for the newest and coolest smartphone available? Or are you a bit more old-fashioned, preferring to stretch it out and keep your technology a few years behind to save some cash? We all have our own cell phone purchasing preferences, and the same differences apply in how long we each keep our phones. With new phones, new advancements in cellular tech, and ever increasing reasons to upgrade, the average length of a cell phone’s lifespan may surprise you.

In 2014, 143 million cell phones were sold in the United States – and 90 percent of those brand-new phones were smartphones, according to Recon Analytics. As high as these numbers may seem, they aren’t as high as they have been in previous years. In 2013, 25 million more new cell phones were sold. And the numbers were only higher in the years before 2013. So, analysts point out that more and more individuals are keeping their cell phones for longer periods of time, leading to a decrease in sales – but why are people keeping their phones for longer lengths?

Price plays a big role in the cell phone choice. As phones become increasingly “smarter” and more high-tech, capable of accomplishing so much than the cell phones of five years ago, they become increasingly expensive to purchase. Instead of being able to replace a cell phone for free, or for just $100 or $200 every couple of years, the price of a new cell phone is closer to $500 or $600 today. Because of this, many smartphone users decide it isn’t worth the great expense to have a brand new phone every year – it’s more fiscally responsible to wait until service providers offer incentives to upgrade, or discounts on pricey phones.

Another interesting factor in the length of a cell phone’s lifespan with its owner is how quickly its technology becomes obsolete. In the year span between 2013 and 2014, the number of cell phones that were purchased because the owner’s previous phone became obsolete jumped from 15 percent to 35 percent – an incredibly high increase. During that same timespan, the number of cell phones replaced every two years fell from 40 percent to a mere 16 percent. Why the change? Well, many service providers have come to end their two-year contract policies, and have stopped offering their customers the opportunity to upgrade for free (or for a steep discount) every two years. So, as a result, customers had no reason to hand over their old cell phones every two years.

Instead, the end of the two-year cell phone upgrade cycle signaled the rise in the number of consumers who keep their phones longer. With no incentive to upgrade, and no time limit on how long they could keep their phone, consumers began hanging onto their phones until the technology deemed it time to upgrade. In an effort to save money, and to get the most out of their phones, consumers are now keeping smartphones until they can no longer stand the outdated technology.