5G: Why Americans will make the switch this year — and why others won’t

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
January 11, 2021, 2:52 PM UTC

The march to a 5G-connected world is accelerating and, according to YouGov consumer data, nearly half (47%) of Americans who intend to access 5G in the next year say they are doing so simply because they need a new phone. 

iPhone, which in the US commands just under 50% market share, released its first 5G models in the iPhone 12 slate of devices earlier in the year. With that comes a huge number of users eager to upgrade, many of whom may have been holding out for 5G. Apple’s iPhone was the last of the major smartphone manufactures not to have a 5G offering. 

About a third (35%) of these consumers planning to access 5G say it’s because they can get a good deal on a device. Manufactures and carriers in the United States and beyond are likely attempting to spur sales as the pandemic cools demand for high-end tech devices. 

The same number of consumers who will access the next-gen network (35%) say they’re simply excited about the benefits of 5G, while 15% say beefed-up data privacy is another reason. 

The holdouts: Why are they not interested? 

YouGov also keeps track of the reasons why American consumers don’t plan to upgrade to 5G access on their mobile device. About three in ten Americans who do not intend to access the next-gen network in the near future say they’re simply not interested in the technology. 

But cost is also a factor. 

A little over a quarter (28%) say the price of new devices is too high. Indeed, in these early days of 5G, access to the hyper-fast network is exclusive to those with higher-end phones, including the iPhone 12 (which starts at US$699 for the Mini) and the Samsung Galaxy S20 (US$700). 

5G-hestitant consumers also harbor concerns about data privacy on the network (11%), while 11% say they’ve recently purchased a new device without 5G capability and won’t be ready to shell out cash for a new phone soon. Related to that, a February 2020 YouGov survey found a plurality (33%) of Americans replace their phones less frequently than once every three years. Nearly a quarter (23%) do so every three years, 20% every two years and 6% every year. 

Methodology: Data regarding reasons to gain access to 5G technology is based on a sample size of 972 US adults who intend to access 5G in the next 12 months. Data regarding reasons not to gain access to 5G technology is based on a sample size of 4,474 US adults who do not intend to access 5G in the next 12 months. Interviews were conducted online between November 2019 – November 2020.

Image: Getty

Related findings: 5G: Who in the world is willing to pay extra?