Phone makers are concerned about the increasing lifespan of smartphones in South Korea
While less people in South Korea are snapping up the latest smartphones as they come out, manufacturers like Samsung are allowing older models to be traded in with credit going towards the purchase of newer models
By Baek Byung-yeul
Hyun, a 36-year-old office worker living in Seoul, had long been one to buy the latest smart devices. But since he changed his smartphone to Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge two years ago he stopped purchasing new phones because he feels that it is still sufficiently convenient.
“With Galaxy S7, I can use its mobile payment service. Its design is still attractive and the phone has a long battery life. There is no reason for me to purchase a new smartphone,” Hyun said.
Even though manufacturers have been rolling out new high-end smartphones every year, fewer people are buying new smartphones. Hyun is part of those who are not.
According to research by Strategy Analytics, smartphone sales in the world topped 1.5 billion units for the first time in 2017 but overall sales were up by only 1.3 per cent from the year before.
This is much decreased from sales in 2016. The percentage of the overall sales had hit double digits in 2015 but plunged to 3.3 per cent in 2016.
Another research agency, Gartner, reported that smartphone sales hit nearly 408 million phones in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 5.6 per cent decline over the fourth quarter of 2016. The agency said this is the first year-on-year decline since it started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004.
Industry watchers presume that this is because of the increased replacement cycle of smartphones.
According to recent research by BayStreet Research, the replacement cycle of smartphones this year is 31 months while it was only at 23 months in 2014. The research agency expects the period will be increased to 33 months next year.
In a bid to encourage more people to purchase the latest smartphones, manufactures have been seeking various measures.
Samsung Electronics introduced a trade-in promotion that allows customers to trade in an eligible device and receive an instant trade-in credit toward the purchase of a brand new phone.
Apple is also running the trade-up service where iPhone users can switch to the newest iPhone without having to pay the full cost.
It remains to be seen whether foldable phones can attract the needs of customers who want something new.
Industry watchers predict that the first smartphone with foldable displays will arrive on the market by the end of this year. It is expected that Samsung will announce the arrival of foldable phones this year though the phones won’t go on sale until next year.