How the two-year smartphone upgrade cycle died

More than half of smartphone users keep their devices for three years or more, according to a Ting Mobile report.

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For years, big cell phone companies encouraged smartphone users to upgrade their devices every couple years; however, this practice is no longer commonplace, according to Ting Mobile's Phone Upgrade Survey, released Wednesday. 

The report surveyed 3,640 people to determine when users are upgrading their phones, and why. The top reason most users said they upgraded their phone was because it wasn't working as well as it once did (32%). Some 23% said they upgraded because the phone was broken, damaged, or lost, and 18% said they upgraded because the phone was outdated, the report found. 

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Despite phone providers like Samsung and Apple consistently releasing new, flashy smartphones, only 10% of users said they upgraded their phone because there was a new model they really wanted. Smartphone users instead tend to prioritize practicality over having the newest tech, the report found. 

"After so many years of people being pressured into upgrading to a new phone when their old phone was perfectly functional, it's encouraging to see that so many of our survey respondents are hanging on to their devices for longer," Andrew Moore-Crispin, director of content at Ting Mobile, said in a press email. "The data from our survey indicates that people are more conscious about things like price and basic phone functionality. They don't care so much about having the latest, coolest tech—something that might not be great news for the big manufacturers this year."

People are also keeping their phones longer than they used to: Nearly half (47%) of users said they kept their mobile phone for three to five years before upgrading, and 55% said they expect to keep their current device three to five years before upgrading. 

When choosing an upgrade, the top three deciding factors for users included price (35%), operating system (30%), and specs (14%), the report found.

For more, check out Photos: The best smartphones for tech experts in 2019 on TechRepublic. 

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