iPhone 13 may have limited appeal to 90% of existing iPhone owners

But 10% are going to upgrade, and that's a big win for Apple

Apple iPhone 12
(Image credit: Apple)

A survey of existing iPhone users suggests only 10% of them are actively planning to buy the new iPhone 13. That might not sound like a lot, but there are 116 million people using iPhones in just the US and a billion active devices globally. 

The survey comes from the US where a little over 1,000 existing iPhone users were asked if they would definitely upgrade. One in 10 said they would, and if that’s true across the world, then Apple doesn’t have much to worry about. The same research claims last year that Apple sold 100 million iPhones in the first seven months, which suggests the iPhone 13 may sell the same. 

Away from the headline, the rest of the research is actually interesting. The biggest percentage of upgrades falls in the 13-24 month time period, when 37% of people said they were going to upgrade. As Savings.com points out, this is likely the people who have 24 month contracts and look to renew their devices after two years, which is a pretty solid amount of time to hold on to a phone. 

Numbers go down when devices are more than 36 months old, with only 11% of people saying they were upgrading – these are all percentages of the 10% who said they were upgrading. That’s, perhaps, the most interesting stat. It could be people who are still happy with their old phone, or perhaps they’re switching to Android devices.

When asked, the respondents said that satellite connectivity was a big motivator, although it seems likely they’ve perhaps misunderstood what this feature might offer. We’ve recently covered this, and if it happens it will be emergency use only. Around 27% of people thought this was a feature worthy of upgrading for. Most people, 22%, said they would upgrade for more camera and video features but only 15% cited better battery life. 

However, battery life was something that those who had no intention of upgrading said was important to them. A decent 20% of them said it would inspire a sale and satellite connectivity was just behind at 17%. So we’ll see, if Apple does announce the satellite features it may genuinely boost sales. 

There’s no mention of a 120Hz screen being a big driver. I doubt Savings.com asked people about that, and I honestly doubt the public is that bothered about high refresh rate screens. It is, however, something that seems to bother Android owners who do have 120Hz screens, and can’t understand why Apple hasn’t done the same. 

In conclusion then, it sounds like Apple’s in for a pretty good year. By this point, it must be good at predicting how many devices it will sell. We do also know that Apple has increased the number of units it ordered, so it must be expecting to sell more once it’s actually officially told us what features it will ship with. And as this survey suggests, that could win over people who are currently on the fence. 

Ian Morris

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of T3.com.