Apple offers years of software support, so why are iPhone fans upgrading every two years?

Part meme, part urban legend: 100% a real argument that each of us has participated in at least once: Android vs iOS. And what impact does the result of that war have if all that truly matters is that you like your daily driver?

Actually, it has a lot of impact. Civilized versions of debates like this is what pushes our industry forward. And, it’s also really fun. So, in the spirit of those two things, can I take a moment and ask:

Why are the iPhone people changing phones more frequently when they already have a solid software support lifecycle unlike most of Android phones?

I really hope that our “How America Buys and Uses Smartphones: PhoneArena Survey” can spark my logic here and we can figure this one out, because this was honestly one of the most interesting findings we had.

But! Before we move on, kindly note that:

  • This is commissioned research, so we’re impartial as can be.
  • 2,000 people, vox populi of the US were surveyed.
  • 100% accuracy is impossible, but all stats are relevant and up to date.
  • Some people have more than one type of phone.

So, here it is:

  • Apple aficionados swap a phone on an average of 21 months
  • Android fans hold on a bit longer for a total of 30 months on average

Huh. So I’m the weird one when I like to keep my phone as long as possible? Let’s dig in deeper here.

It’s been several years since the battle for a longer software support cycle began. Google and Samsung feel like the leaders of the charge, often offering four or even five years of software and security updates, but that’s Android.

In the case of the iPhone, Apple has been doing an increasingly better job on average with iOS 16 being available on phones as old — and gold — as the iPhone 8, while iOS 17 is expected to drop on everything iPhone XR and XS, and beyond.

For context, the Galaxy S9 came out the same year as the iPhone XR and while the XR and XS are still set for iOS 17, the S9 stopped getting updates in March of 2022. 

Still, we must not forget that phone plans are a thing. Carriers often offer sweet deals involving returning an older phone and maybe paying a partial sum upfront as a means to upgrade to the latest flagship.

While that’s really awesome, it makes me wonder if this fight for sustainability — because, holding on to an older phone effectively means that you are helping the planet, at this point — even means anything, if so many temptations are aiming to dissuade you from doing that.

Well, we don’t really have an answer to that. What we do want to help answer is the following question: “What’s the prime reason that gets Americans to change phones?”. And while you wait for that to drop, don’t forget: the complete “How America Buys and Uses Smartphones” survey results will become available on PhoneArena at the end of August!