Consumers say a better battery might make a $2,000 phone worth it

62% say they would never spend that much and only Apple could change their minds.

5G and foldable phones: The promises and problems

To justify a $2,000 smartphone, consumers want improvements in the most basic thing— battery life— as well as features that are not even on the market yet, namely phones with modular components, according to a new survey.

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Google's Project Ara was one of the first tests of this idea, a phone that allowed the user to swap out the camera, speaker, or battery when one of the components becomes obsolete. Consumers also want a $2,000 phone to be foldable and bezel-less, according to the survey.

SellCell asked more than 2,000 adults in the US about cellphone buying habits in a new survey. Most had no plans to spend $2,000 on a phone with only 8% stating that they were willing to pay that much.

About 20% of respondents are taking a wait and see approach and would be willing to reconsider the "never in my lifetime" pledge after five years.

Apple has the best chance at convincing people to spend $2,000 on a new phone with 56% of respondents saying they would pay that price for an iPhone while only 27% said they would spend that much for a Samsung handset. Google came in third at 9%.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF)

Current iPhone owners were also the most likely at 78% to say they would pay a premium price for a new model while only 13% of Samsung owners and 5% of Pixel users agreed with that statement.

Phone prices have increased dramatically over the last few years with Samsung models going up as much as 29% from 2016 to 2019 and iPhone prices going up by as much as 42%. 

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said that these increasing costs are making refurbished phones more popular

IDC found that used smartphone sales hit 206.7 million units in 2019 and predicts that this number will grow by 13.6% between now and 2023 to hit 332.9 million units by that year.

When looking for a new phone, these features are most likely to persuade consumers to buy a high-end model, according to SellCelll:

  • Battery life           63.3%
  • Photography        53.6% 
  • Performance        49%
  • Design                 47.9%
  • Gaming                37.1%
  • Sound quality       25.8%
  • Software               31.1%

Survey respondents were more interested in having more camera sensors on a future phone at 29% than having a button-free design at 12%
The survey also found that women are more likely to shell out $2,000 on their next phone, as compared to men.

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 adults in the United States between January 6-13. An equal number of women and men took the survey.

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SellCell asked 2,000 people what would motivate them to spend $2,000 on a new phone.

Image: SellCell

By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...