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Three major reasons why Americans do not upgrade their phones

Last month, Verizon and AT & T have officially made something you probably have been aware of for some time: American smartphones upgrades much less than they used to. In fact, they hit record highs with the two largest US carriers, with people apparently more content than ever to hold onto its existing unit. This is a global trend, as the smartphone market reaches maturity and saturation in many developed countries, yet it is most pronounced in the United States for a few reasons specific to the country.

Apple and Samsung duopol

If you were to ask me to mention the most exciting phones in 201

9, and I would be the Huawei P30 Pro, with its exotic range of cameras and unparalleled low light photography, closely followed of OnePlus 7 Pro and the gorgeous 90Hz screen. Is one of these phones available at AT&T or Verizon? No. Huawei is effectively banned by the US government, while OnePlus only has a distribution agreement with T-Mobile in the country, which is better than nothing but relative to the niche.

The typical American smartphone buyer knows a choice between only two brands: Apple and Samsung. See the online offers from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, and you'll see a parade of various models from the two companies, designed by the occasional LG also-ran and Kyocera obscurity. If you roll down far enough, you'll see the Red Hydrogen One, which is a garbage phone, but it's from an American company, so they put it in.

Chinese phone brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi have leading positions in most of the world's markets now, but in the US they are almost absent. For a Chinese phone manufacturer to get a device on a US carrier, it must do so through the back door to put a familiar mark on it, as TCL does with its BlackBerry and Palm phones. Even OnePlus is mostly a tasty brand in front of the same great Chinese conglomerate that drives the opo and vivo marks. The US government's geopolitics play out in carrier stores, which reduce consumer choice to products from US companies, mainly Apple, or producers from American allies such as South Korea.

Stability Apple and Samsung

Limited to two vendors may not be a problem if they competed as hard as possible, but both Apple and Samsung see content out with most iterative upgrades. "Incremental changes from one model to the next have not been so good, and it has not been enough of an incentive," says Verizon CFO Matt Ellis.

Think of the things that make the Samsung Galaxy S10 convincing: a beautiful screen with small sections, a very good camera, a large battery with wireless charging, fast performance, water resistance, and as a bonus a headphone jack. The three-year Galaxy S7 has all these things. An S7 owner can certainly want a S10, but they certainly do not need one. It's a situation that looks like the one with Windows laptops, where screen frames disappear, everything gets lighter and faster, but the rate of improvement is too gradual to force most to upgrade in a hurry.

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Apple had a great redesign with the iPhone X in 2017, kicked a wave of upgrades from people who had been waiting for such a dramatic change, but the company has otherwise held a conservative cadence when it will introduce new hardware features and features. You will certainly struggle to tell the difference between an iPhone X and XS, just as you would fight to distinguish between an iPhone 6 and a 6S at first glance.

Without the likes of Huawei to push them into more aggressive upgrade cycles, Apple and Samsung can afford to keep pace with each other, at least in the US market. Huawei's breakneck search for new features has proved extremely tempting for phone buyers in Europe and around the world, with the Chinese vendor racking up 50 percent growth in phone deliveries in the first quarter of 2019, while Samsung and Apple both failed. [19659013] The New Economy of Super Flagship

It's a bad secret that mobile operators are worshiping on the altar of the ARPU (average revenue per user). Increasingly, they tie their phone line rental with subscription to premium video or music services, and they offer long-term payment plans to help people buy the super-flagship $ 1,000 phones offered by Apple, Samsung and Google. This strategy has worked surprisingly well, with consumers seeing only a marginal increase in monthly costs and appreciating the increased abilities (or pure aesthetic and luxurious appeal) of the exclusive tier units.

But there are two long-term issues for hardware manufacturers selling ultra-expensive phones. One is that the person who spends twice what they previously did on a phone would, of course, expect to keep their shiny new phone for a place nearly twice as long. Apple has been good at supporting many generations of iPhones with their latest iOS updates, and even though Android vendors haven't been anywhere near so well, many people can continue just fine with an older version of Android too. The other major problem is that the addressable market for people willing to use four characters on a phone is inherently small.

US phone manufacturers and operators have shifted the most innovative and appealing devices to a price point that is only unattainable to a majority of people. They have masked it well, but it's still a lot of money. Samsung's cheapest Galaxy S10 variant, the S10E, is still $ 749. Americans' smartphone budgets have not risen at the same rate as smartphone prices, and now, when they look at their regular price range, they only see a lack of meaningful innovation. OnePlus 7 Pro is a rare exception, providing a devastating, stylish, screen-free display to the sub- $ 700 market.

Satisfied existing customers, lack of delivery of innovation to price points where people would be ready to upgrade and almost total absence by Chinese competition, the US phone market has sapped vitality. Smartphones are still fun, exciting and full of new features, but you may have to go outside the US to find one that is both compelling and affordable.

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