Report Summary

Smartphone ownership is near universal and purchase cycles are slowing down, so brands are looking to new formats and genAI functionality to stand out. Younger men have the shortest tenure with any particular phone, and they also lead in owning wearables. Overall, about 20% of consumers get a new phone every two years. Apple still dominates brand share, but new, non-traditional formats, like foldable phones, could convert even the most die-hard Apple devotees.

This report looks at the following areas:

  • 5G penetration
  • Brand share
  • Timing of past and future smartphone purchases
  • Expedited smartphone purchase triggers
  • Smartphone formats of interest
  • Wearable device ownership
  • Attitudes concerning smartphones and wearable devices

GenAI functionality and novel formats revive interest in a relatively mature market. Like most tech, younger men lead in purchases and category engagement.

Jenni Nelson, Consumer Insights Analyst, Tech, Media & Entertainment

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary

    • What you need to know
    • Consumer trends: key takeaways
    • Market predictions
    • Opportunities
  2. Consumer Insights

    • Consumer fast facts
    • Consumer fast facts (cont’d)
    • 5G capability
    • The 5G evolution is nearly complete
    • Graph 1: 5G smartphone ownership and interest, 2022-23
    • Younger consumers most concerned about having 5G capable phones
    • Graph 2: 5G smartphone ownership and interest, 2023
    • Generate excitement for 5.5G among younger, multicultural consumers
    • Graph 3: “I currently own a 5G capable smartphone”, by race and ethnicity, 2023
    • Brand share and user profiles
    • Apple dominates, but slightly more use Android OS
    • Graph 4: smartphone brand ownership, 2023
    • Demographic nuances exist between Apple and Android OS users
    • Key demographics by OS
    • Previous smartphone purchase timeline
    • Incremental upgrades help to slow purchase cycle
    • Graph 5: timeframe of most recently acquired smartphone purchase, 2023
    • Gen AI integration will breathe life into a relatively stagnant purchase cycle
    • Younger consumers demand more from their phones, leading to more frequent device turnover
    • Graph 6: timeframe of most recently acquired smartphone purchase, by age, 2023
    • Future smartphone purchase timeline
    • Most plan to buy a new smartphone in the next two years
    • Graph 7: timeframe for buying a new smartphone, 2023
    • Younger men are quickest to buy, but may be the hardest to keep
    • Graph 8: plan to buy a new smartphone within the next year, by age and gender, 2023
    • Regardless of past purchase date, about half anticipate buying a smartphone in the next year
    • Graph 9: plan to purchase a smartphone in the next one or two years, by past smartphone purchase timeline, 2023
    • Keen smartphone buyers still have concerns about their dependence on the devices
    • Graph 10: smartphone usage attitudes (% any agree), by those planning to buy a new smartphone in the next six months, 2023
    • Reasons for expediting a smartphone purchase
    • Most consumers are not compelled to buy before they are ready
    • Graph 11: reasons for expediting a new smartphone purchase, 2023
    • Older consumers are not driven to buy until their current phone is lost, broken or in poor working order
    • Graph 12: reasons for expediting a new smartphone purchase, by age, 2023
    • For those on longer replacement timelines, deals and new models are not much of an enticement to buy sooner
    • Graph 13: reasons for expediting a new smartphone purchase, by future smartphone purchase timeline, 2023
    • Price and sustainability play a role in how consumers feel about repairs
    • Right to repair laws proliferate across the states…
    • … but are consumers aware of them?
    • Brands of consideration for next smartphone purchase
    • Apple still the top brand, but opportunity for others to gain share exist
    • Graph 14: smartphone brands considered for future purchase, 2023
    • Apple is the top brand for consideration among young consumers
    • Graph 15: brands considering for future smartphone purchase, by age, 2023
    • Opportunities for gaining share exist, but are limited
    • Graph 16: future brand purchase considerations, by current brand users, 2023
    • There is room to steal share, but not equally among brands
    • Smartphone formats of interest
    • Interest for some non-traditional formats is notable
    • Graph 17: formats of interest for next purchase (any rank), 2023
    • Non-traditional formats are not a fad, putting Apple in an hard position
    • Graph 18: select formats of interest for next purchase (any rank), by age, 2023
    • Purchasers of non-traditional formats are more willing to consider them for their next phone purchase
    • Graph 19: formats of interest for next purchase, by those who agree “I purchased a non-traditional smartphone format in the last year”, 2023
    • Non-traditional formats attract and satisfy young men
    • Motorola aims for women on social media with the Razr Plus 2023
    • Motorola leverages Instagram to target women
    • Wearables
    • Wearable ownership seems to be reaching a plateau
    • Graph 20: wearable device ownership, 2022-23
    • Smartwatches, trackers, and earbuds, oh my!
    • Graph 21: smartwatch, activity tracker, and wireless earbud & headphone ownership, by age, 2023
    • Build awareness for cutting edge wearables among women
    • Graph 22: smart clothing & jewelry, health/medical tracker and safety wearable ownership, by age, 2023
    • Black and Hispanic consumers lead in wearable ownership
    • Graph 23: wearables device ownership, by Black and Hispanic consumers, 2023
    • Diversity in marketing matters
  3. Competitive Strategies

    • Launch activity and innovation
    • Samsung makes a safe splash with gen AI functionality
    • Honor Magic6 Pro brings eye-tracking tech to smartphones
    • Motorola plays with form, building a phone that goes around a wrist
    • AiPin: a revolutionary device combining wearables and smartphones into a small, singular device
    • Marketing and advertising
    • Samsung showcases specific AI functions to build excitement for Galaxy AI
    • Samsung makes demonstrating new tools the focus for marketing content
    • Apple relies on an old but effective campaign, Shot on an iPhone
    • Apple rests on its laurels, reminding everyone to relax, it’s an iPhone
    • Google plays it too safe with AI
    • Opportunities
  4. The Market

    • Market context
    • Market drivers
    • The US expanded by over 3% in the fourth quarter
    • Graph 24: quarterly real GDP growth, 2020-23
    • Consumers are the most upbeat they have been in nearly three years
    • Graph 25: consumer sentiment index, 2021-24
    • Consumers’ financial outlooks are increasingly optimistic
    • Graph 26: opinions on financial future, 2023 and 2024
    • Market size and forecast
    • Wearables help boost the market while smartphones continue modest but steady growth
    • Key players
    • Apple’s position as market leader grows less certain
    • More pressure on iPhone and services to deliver sales as other categories hold steady or drop
    • Graph 27: Apple global net sales by category, fourth quarter 2022-23
    • Samsung is expanding its wearables line with a ring
    • Expect more premium products from Motorola
  5. Appendix

    • Consumer research methodology
    • Generations
    • Abbreviations and terms

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


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