General, Technology

Majority of U.S. Smartphone Owners Are Willing to Pay Full Retail Price for Phones

Image Credit: Photo by Ravi Kumar on Unsplash

Over 95% of Americans own a mobile phone or smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, and if phone makers have their way, 100% of those people are already eyeing up their next phone upgrade.

With that in mind, CivicScience asked 2,000 U.S. adults how they planned to purchase their next phone. Over 60% of Americans who own or plan to purchase a new mobile phone or smartphone plan to pay full retail price – either through their carrier or directly through other retail channels.

Breaking it down by age, one trend stood out above all others: Gen Z plans on buying their next phone through a third-party retailer – think Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy – at over a 54% higher clip than all other generations. They are the least likely to switch carriers in search of a free phone, and also the least likely to purchase their phone through their carrier.


Interestingly, income doesn’t factor much into purchase decisions until the $150K and above category, where 66% of those surveyed said they’d be buying either through their carrier or at a retail establishment, which is 10% higher than other income brackets averaged together.

Rural Americans were more likely than city or suburban dwellers to buy their next phone used via eBay or similar, and they were also slightly more likely to seek a free upgrade from their carrier.

Current iPhone users were more likely than Samsung users to seek a free upgrade from their carrier, while Samsung owners were much more likely than iPhone owners to to get their next upgrade from a retailer.

Cars, much like smartphones, are constantly getting upgraded. Looking at car buying behaviors compared to phone buying behaviors yielded an interesting tidbit: People who intend to lease their next car are more likely than used car buyers and new car buyers to get their next phone used or free, either via upgrade or switching carriers. 

There are plenty of choices in how to get a new smartphone or cell phone, and no clear way stands out above the others. But with the younger generation less likely to use their carrier as their phone provider, an opening would seem to exist for both brick and mortar and online retailers.

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