Survey says: 85% of iPhone owners likely or very likely to upgrade

Gold iPhone

Apple’s core audience of iPhone owners may be the most loyal customers when it comes to upgrading to new models. According to a recent Gazelle survey with 881 respondents, 85 percent of iPhone owners are either likely or very likely to upgrade to an upcoming new iPhone model. Somewhat oddly, 66 percent say the smartphone technology doesn’t improve enough to justify a new phone each year.

Perhaps most of the survey participants are in the second year of a two-year contract? Or maybe it’s this other datapoint captured by the survey:

“The excitement of a new iPhone doesn’t last long, with more than 70% of respondents telling us the appeal wears off within a year and 33.1% stating it wears off within the first few months. It seems like Apple does a great job of creating that initial hype around new products driving people to upgrade. “

If that new iPhone has lost its luster within a year or less and the new iPhone has just enough new features to build desire, the typical two-year upgrade cycle could be cut in half for Apple’s newest iPhone model.

The relatively high percentage of likely iPhone upgraders actually doesn’t surprise me when considering the source of the survey. Gazelle is an online buyer of recent and old devices. The typical person using Gazelle’s services would likely be a phone upgrader; they’re unloading their old handset to recoup some money for the next shiny object.

It’s interesting to me, however, what the survey uncovered about desired features. When asked why they’d upgrade their iPhone, survey participants pointed to these top three reasons:

  • iOS7 28%
  • Better/Faster Processor 21%
  • Bigger Screen 20%

The first makes little sense to me unless people are still using three-year old iPhones: While Apple hasn’t yet said which devices would be upgradable to iOS 7, it’s a safe bet that the last two, if not three, models will simply get the software. A faster processor (and GPU, for that matter) are generally always part of the new iPhone model, so that’s almost a given as well.

But the third reason — a bigger screen — is telling. For years, iPhone fans have loved the size of the iPhone: It’s easy to carry, use and fit in a pocket. Only last year did Apple expand the screen size a small bit on the iPhone 5. Unless the company surprises us all, it’s not likely that a new iPhone will follow with an even larger screen, although anything is possible until the launch event.

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