Three big reasons why Americans aren’t upgrading their phones

Last month, Verizon and AT & T formalized something you've probably been aware of: American smartphone owners are updating much less than they used to. In fact, they are reaching record lows in the two largest US operators. UU., With people apparently happier than ever to maintain their existing device. This is a global trend, since the smartphone market is reaching maturity and saturation in many developed nations, and yet it is more pronounced in the United States for some particular reasons of the country.

The duopoly of Apple and Samsung

If I was going to ask me to name the most exciting phones of 2019, the best of my mind would be the Huawei P30 Pro, with its exotic variety of cameras and low-light photography without same, followed closely by the OnePlus 7 Pro and its magnificent 90Hz screen. Are any of those phones available on AT & T or Verizon? No Huawei is effectively banned by the US government. UU., While OnePlus only has a distribution agreement with T-Mobile in the country, which is better than nothing, but it is still comparatively niche.

The buyer of smartphones typical of the United States knows a choice between only two brands: Apple and Samsung. Read carefully the online offers of AT & T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, and you will see a parade of several models of those two companies, marked by the occasional LG also ran and the darkness of Kyocera. If you move enough, you'll see Red Hydrogen One, which is a junk phone, but it's from a US company, so they let him in.

Chinese brands of phones like Huawei and Xiaomi have leading positions in most of the world markets now, but in the United States they are almost totally absent. For a Chinese phone manufacturer to bring a device to a US operator You have to do it through the back door to put a family brand, like the one that TCL is doing with their BlackBerry and Palm phones. Even OnePlus is mostly a tasty brand against the same giant Chinese conglomerate that operates the Oppo and Vivo brands. The geopolitics of the US government UU It is being developed in the stores of transporters, reducing the choice of consumers to the products of the US companies. UU., Mainly Apple, or manufacturers from countries allied with the USA. UU Like South Korea.

The stalemate of Apple and Samsung

Being limited to two providers might not be a problem if they were competing as hard as possible, but both Apple and Samsung seem to be happy with mostly iterative updates. "The incremental changes from one model to another have not been as good, and it has not been a sufficient incentive," said Matt Ellis, Verizon CFO.

Think of the things that make a Samsung Galaxy S10 compelling: a beautiful display with small bezels, a very good camera, a large battery with wireless charging, fast performance, water resistance and, as an added benefit, a connector for headphones. The three-year Galaxy S7 has all those things. An owner of S7 may absolutely want an S10, but certainly not needs . It's a situation that looks a lot like Windows laptops, where the screen bezels are disappearing, everything is getting lighter and faster, but the rate of improvement is too gradual to force most of the people to update quickly.

three big reasons why americans arent upgrading their phones

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Apple had a major redesign with the iPhone X in 2017, which caused a wave of improvements in people who had been expecting such a dramatic change, but the company has maintained a conservative cadence when it comes to introducing new features and hardware capabilities. Undoubtedly, it would be difficult to distinguish the difference between an iPhone X and XS, as it would at first glance to differentiate between an iPhone 6 and a 6S.

Without the likes of Huawei to push them into more aggressive update cycles, Apple and Samsung can afford to keep pace with one another, at least in the US market. Huawei's innovative search for new features has proved to be extremely attractive for phone buyers in Europe and the rest of the world, as the Chinese provider recorded a 50 percent growth in phone shipments in the first quarter of 2019 , while Samsung and Apple failed. [19659013] The new economy of the super flagships

It is a poorly kept secret that mobile carriers adore on the altar of ARPU (Average revenue per user). Increasingly, they are combining their phone line rentals with subscriptions to premium music or video services, and are offering long-term payment plans to help people buy the $ 1,000 super-star phones that Apple, Samsung and Google They have been offering. That strategy has worked surprisingly well, as consumers see only a marginal increase in their monthly cost and value the increased capabilities (or the aesthetic and luxury appeal) of those exclusive-level devices.

But there are two long-term problems for hardware manufacturers that sell ultra expensive terminals. One of them is that the person who spends twice as much as he used to on a telephone would naturally expect to keep his new phone bright for a place close to twice as long. Apple has been very good at supporting many generations of iPhones with their latest iOS updates, and although Android providers have not been as good, many people can also move forward with an earlier version of Android. The other big problem is that the accessible market of people who want to spend four digits on a phone is inherently small.

Phone manufacturers and operators in the United States have changed the most innovative and attractive devices at a price that is simply unattainable for most people. They have masked it well, but it is still a lot of money. The cheapest Galaxy S10 variant of Samsung, the S10E, is still $ 749. The smartphone budgets of Americans have not risen at the same pace as the prices of smart phones, and now, when they observe their usual price range , they simply see a lack of significant innovation. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a rare exception, which provides a devastating and beautiful screen without bevels to the market below $ 700.

Existing satisfied customers, lack of innovation in point prices where people would be ready to update, and the almost total absence of Chinese competition has undermined the vitality of the US telephone market. Smart phones are still fun, exciting and full of novel features, but you may have to leave the United States to find one that is attractive and affordable.

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