Consumer Durables News

‘Most important belonging’: 1 in 5 Americans say it is worth taking on debt to pay for new iPhone 14, survey says

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Apple upped its tech game once again last week, officially releasing the new iPhone 14, which boasts the brand’s longest battery life ever and offers incredible advances in photo technology and several new vital safety features. But is the device — which retails for close to $1,000 and can logistically double your cell phone bill — really worth the hype and/or the debt? According to a new survey by WalletHub, more than one in five Americans think it is.

“iPhone demand is rising,” noted WalletHub, a personal finance website that found 24% more people plan on getting the new iPhone this year, compared to last year. “More than a third of Americans say that their phone is their most important belonging.”

The survey, which examined not only how the current economic environment has impacted Americans’ cell phone purchase plans, but also why people buy new phones and how essential those phones are, also identified that more than half of Americans are willing to try a budget cell phone carrier in order to make the upgrade.

“It would appear that many consumers may view and make decisions about phones as they would consumer durables,” Douglas Hausknecht, a senior lecturer and associate professor of marketing and international business at the University of Akron told WalletHub when reacting to the survey’s results. “The anticipated useful life of a phone may be viewed as similar to that of an air conditioner, dishwasher or other appliance. Financing is not a large leap.”

And WalletHub found that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may be a driving force behind the push to upgrade.

“During the pandemic, we saw that some consumers paused purchases given the uncertain times and, for many, reduced income,” Michelle D. Steward, associate professor of marketing at Wake Forest University, also told WalletHub. “As we move out of the pandemic, those consumers are revisiting whether their current versions of products across categories may need to be upgraded or repaired.”

Hundreds of customers lined up at the Apple Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan to purchase a new iPhone 14 when the item was officially released on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)AP

So should you get the newest cell phone or keep your older model? In order to help consumers make the ultimate decision, WalletHub created a cell phone savings calculator which crunches the numbers to help cell phone shoppers find the most affordable plan.

According to the calculator, the best plan for individuals is provided by discount carrier Visible, costing $1,513 with no contract.

“Offers from wireless providers are becoming increasingly extreme,” Jack McCann, associate professor of marketing and business at Union College, told WalletHub. “Many customers are looking for the best deal and are price sensitive, thus may not be as brand loyal as in the past.”

And McCann noted that Apple is making adjustments as well.

“Apple heard its critics,” McCann said, noting that the company dropped prices on the iPhone 11 after receiving harsh feedback. “It appears that early sales [of the iPhone 14] are stronger than expected, but may lag previous years in the final tally. However, this is a good indicator, as the company fights to maintain market share against increasingly powerful Android rivals.”

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