US may see surge in holiday smartphone purchases

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
September 13, 2021, 5:02 PM UTC

As Apple is poised to release the latest iteration of the iPhone, YouGov trended data shows appetite for new smartphones in the United States is at the highest level in at least three years. 

A recent YouGov survey found 22% of US adults are somewhat or very likely to purchase a new smartphone in the next three months, up from 15% this time last year and 16% the year before. The fourth quarter is generally when we see big mobile players like Apple and Google release new hardware ahead of the holiday season. 

This uptick in purchase intent could be the result of a few factors. As 5G coverage grows across the US, interest in gaining access to the next-generation network might be driving demand for new devices. Right now, YouGov Profiles data suggests roughly a quarter of the US population has a 5G connection and another 20% say they’re likely to upgrade to a 5G device in the next year. Further, economic worry may be melting away, leading to increased spending on discretionary goods. Economist/YouGov data shows about a third of Americans are worried about a job loss, compared to half of the country at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Driving this increase in demand are 35- to 44-year-old Americans – nearly a third of them are likely to pick up a new device in the next three months. That marks a 14-point increase over last year. But there is a boost in purchase intent across all age demographics, including those aged 18-24 (+7 point increase over last year), 25-34 (+9), 45-54 (+5) and those aged 55+ (+7). 

The months of September and October are generally the time when the big smartphone owners unveil their latest tech. Apple’s iPhone is expected to include a smaller notch, camera improvements, and a similar form factor to the iPhone 12. Google is expected to release its Pixel 6 device in October, which will have a new physical design, faster charging than its predecessor, and an improved camera. 

Methodology: 5,436 US adults were asked “How likely are you, if at all, to buy a newly released smartphone within the next three months?” between September 9 – 10, 2021. Results are weighted by age, gender, region, and income level.

Image: Apple