Phone pricing surge pushes upgrade cycle to three years, researchers say

Is it getting expensive in here, or is it just us?

Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
Rae Hodge
2 min read

A new survey says people are planning to hold on to cell phones longer. 

West Elm

The rising costs of phones and carrier plans mean people are now waiting almost three years to upgrade to the next new smartphone, and younger people are staying on family plans longer. Or at least that's what two consumer surveys indicated Thursday. Research from Strategy Analytics found that more people are keeping their smartphones longer, while researchers at Let's Talk found 49% of college-aged adults are still on their parents' cell phone service plans. 

Surveying 2,500 US smartphone owners, Strategy Analytics found that the average time to replace a smartphone has lengthened to 33 months. And pricing is going to blow out even more with expensive 5G phones, David Kerr, Strategy Analytics SVP, said in a release.

"Operators and device brands face significant inertia given consumer perception of diminishing innovation," Kerr said. "Vendor pursuit of profitability has seen smartphone prices rising towards and above $1,000.

"Prices for 5G phones will be a key barrier, despite one in four recognizing it as being important for their next device."

Just 7% of those surveyed by Strategy Analytics were planning to spend $1,000 or more. And if research from Let's Talk is any indication, that 7% won't be college age.

According to Let's Talk, "49% of millennials ages 18-24 are still on their parents' cell phone plan." That number reduces down to just 7.5% for millennials aged between 35 and 44, however.

Let's Talk also found shared family cell phone plans to be the most popular option to save money on the monthly bill, with 73% of all respondents (age notwithstanding) on a shared family plan as opposed to an individual cell phone plan.  

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