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Why smartphones sales have slumped in Australia

Smartphone sales in Australia have slowed down considerably because were holding on to our existing phones longer and also holding out for 5G devices, according to research by Telsyte.

The Telsyte Australian Smartphone and Wearables Devices Market Study 2019-2023 revealed just over 4 million smartphones were sold in Australia in the first half of 2019 – that’s down six per cent compared to the same period last year.

The drop has been attributed to customers holding on to their phones even longer.

This extended replacement cycle is now almost 3 years with iPhones enjoying a 25 per cent longer replacement cycle than Android devices.

What has helped lengthen iPhone replacement cycles is the ease in which users can install new operating systems on older handsets.

This has increased the average iPhone replacement cycle by 30 per set to around 3.2 years.

The Android replacement cycle also increased by 11 per cent to around 2.6 years.

As a result, sales of iPhones have declined by 13 per cent to 1.7 million in the first half of 2019 while Android smartphone sales have remained stable at 2.3 million.

The iPhone 11 Pro is not a 5G device

Apple maintained its position as the top vendor overall while the top three Android manufacturers in Australia were Samsung, Oppo and Huawei.

Despite declining iPhone sales, Apple still maintains the highest repeat purchase rate which is greater than 90 per cent.

Meanwhile, Samsung and Oppo’s brand loyalty (measured by repeat purchase rates) have both increased.

Oppo has seen the most improvement – jumping from sixth to third overall in terms of repeat purchase intention rates as the company holds its position in the competitive Android market.

More than one in three Australians now consider 5G an important feature when choosing a smartphone.

Customers are now making purchase decisions on their next smartphone to future proof that purchase and to hold its resale value.

Telsyte says the lack of 5G support on the latest iPhones will have an impact on sales for the next 12 months.

It is likely Apple will release a 5G iPhone in 2020 which Telsyte says has the potential to reignite the market.

And with even more 5G devices expected next year, sales of smartphones could potentially equal or exceed the peak levels last seen in 2017 when more than 9 million devices were sold in Australia.

“All the evidence is suggesting that we are set for a super cycle in 2020 as consumers replace ageing 4G handsets,” says Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi.

In the meantime, Telsyte says the phone slump has created an opportunity for smart wrist wearables.

In the first half of the year Australians have purchased 1.2 million smart wrist wearables – up from one million in the same period last year.

And 69 per cent of those wearables were smartwatches.

Apple has maintained its clear lead in the smartwatch market with 48 per cent of total smartwatch sales in this six-month period.

The remaining 52 per cent is made up of products from vendor’s including Samsung, Fitbit, Huawei and Garmin who all enjoyed healthy growth.

The latest research also shows a growing interest in smartwatches equipped with eSIMs for independent mobile connectivity.