Research says Indians want to upgrade phones in 12 months, but should you?

By Prasid Banerjee | Published on 13 Apr 2017
Research says Indians want to upgrade phones in 12 months, but should you?

Counterpoint Research's new survey says Indian consumers want to upgrade their smartphones within 12 months.

A survey conducted amongst over 1500 respondents has led Counterpoint Research to believe that Indian consumers want to switch to a new phone within 12 months. The report says features like 4G VoLTE, better battery and memory are reasons for consumers wanting to switch. “As per the survey, two in three users plan to upgrade to a new mobile phone in the next 12 months. This is adeparture from an average of 24-30 months to under 20 months upgrade cycle,” says the report. 

Further, Counterpoint’s report says that one of the factors for users to look for 4G LTE smartphones is Reliance Jio’s VoLTE only network. Also, with smartphones becoming a big part of people’s lives, better memory, storage and battery have become important requirements. Three respondents in the report said they were considering phones that have fingerprint sensors and better selfie cameras, for their next buy.

Should you be upgrading within 12 months?

One of the points in Counterpoint’s survey says “online reviews of a product are the most important source of information” for their purchase. So, being reviewers, let us add our two cents here.

It’s entirely possible that you weren’t amongst the respondents who gave Counterpoint it’s data. But if you are planning to upgrade, let us ask you whether you actually should be doing so? In a word, the answer is no. Having tested most smartphones today, we can attest to the fact that most users do not need to upgrade within 12 months.

If you have a 3G/2G phone, then an upgrade is warranted. However, if you happen to have bought a phone within the last 12 months, hold on to it. Android phones do slow down over time, but they really do not get to the point where they become unusable. As a rule of thumb, there’s only one real reason to “upgrade” your smartphone, that is if it stops working entirely. Let us explain why.

Let’s assume you purchased a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (review) a few months ago. Here’s what your phone is missing right now: Android Nougat. It's indeed a big miss, but alternatives aren't much better any way. You have a reasonable camera to work with, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a balanced Snapdragon 625 SoC. It’s more than what most users need right now. Xiaomi announced an Android Nougat beta at launch, so chances are that you’ll be getting an update soon enough. If you've purchased a Motorola device, you probably are on the latest software already.

The point here is, your phone will really start lagging and becoming tough to use when you are left with about 1GB or less space on it. Over time, you will block up some of the RAM, which will reduce performance and the more apps you load, more the processor load. But absolutely none of it will make your phone unusable. The Redmi Note 4 and most of its compatriots run on able and up to date hardware, meaning you don’t need any new feature at the moment.

There's another big reason to not upgrade your smartphone. Almost all numbers today point towards growing demand in the sub-15K range. In this range, there are phones that are good, some that are better and some that are downright bad. However, none of these devices can be considered an "upgrade" to their counterparts. In fact, stagnation in the smartphone market has made the term "upgrade" obsolete. Like we said above, buying a VoLTE enabled phone after a 3G phone is an upgrade, but buying a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 or any other "budget beast" just offers you incremental updates instead of real upgrades.

The above is true for every best selling phone out there right now. Few smartphones today warrant an upgrade within 12 months, so if you are, you should make sure your phone is simply refusing to turn on anymore. If not, stick with it, at least for 18 months.

Prasid Banerjee

Trying to explain technology to my parents. Failing miserably.

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