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How often do people upgrade their smartphones? [new research]

Most flagship smartphone series get updated every year but does it actually mean we replace our devices once every 12 months? To answer this question we looked into DeviceAtlas statistics focusing on the most common year of release for mobile devices in selected corners of the globe.

Typical smartphone update cycle

New Samsung Galaxy S models are typically released every year in April or March, while new iPhones arrive once a year in September. A one-year frequency for flagship releases applies to other series as well, including LG G, Sony Xperia XZ (formerly Z), Huawei P, Xiaomi Mi, and HTC U (formerly One) just to mention some of the popular phone makers.

In order to learn if users are ready to spend $500-$800 per year we checked DeviceAtlas statistics focusing on a property called 'year released'. It tells us in what particular year any given device was made available. As a result, we can share some fascinating statistics on the most common year of release for the most used devices in each country. We also checked the popularity of the newest devices released in 2017, as well as older smartphones released in 2012 or earlier.

Bear in mind that the 'year released' statistics may be affected by the number of first-time buyers who are likely to get newly released devices. At the same time, users who purchased an expensive, premium phone, are likely to keep using it even for several years.

For the following charts, we used web traffic data collected by DeviceAtlas in Q2 2017 for 20 selected local markets.

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Most popular 'year released' is 2015

2015 is arguably the most popular 'year released' worldwide, getting the largest share in 15 out of 20 countries analyzed including France, Germany, and Spain. It means that phones released around two years ago are getting the largest market share in these countries.

Phone released in 2016 got the largest share in just five countries but they were all developed markets, including Australia, Japan, Sweden, UK, and USA.

Phones released in 2012 or earlier widely popular

The following charts show that smartphones released in 2017 generated very few website visits in Q2 2017, for example, reaching up to 2% in the USA. Older phones released 5 years ago or earlier were a lot more popular with 8-13% share in some countries. Interestingly, old phones had a relatively high share in developed markets such as France, Australia, Italy Canada, or the UK. At the same time, India with a large number of first-time smartphone buyers got the lowest share for phones released in 2012 or older.

Here are the statistics for all phones released in 2017 and 2012 or earlier.

Detect 'year released' to target ads and analyze web traffic

DeviceAtlas lets you detect the year of release as one of the standard device properties available as an integer value.

The most common use cases for using year released are ad targeting, campaign reporting, and web analytics purposes. For example, advertisers may want to target ads to newer devices, using that as a proxy for purchasing power, or target ads at older devices with an upgrade offer. Web analytics platforms displaying year released help their customers better understand their audience's willingness to purchase new smartphones and get a more detailed picture of their prospects and visitors.

Feel free to check out our web analytics demo giving you an idea on how device detection can be used in your environment.

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  • The smartphone upgrade cycle visualized
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  • All statistics represent the share of web traffic in selected countries based on mobile visits tracked by DeviceAtlas.

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