A Plurality of US Adults Typically Wait until their Contract Is Eligible to Upgrade their Cell Phone

Battery Life Is the Top Complaint about the iPhone and the Most Desired Improvement for New iPhone 5

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New York, NY – Over four in ten (42%) of adults say that if they were to upgrade their cell phone, it would be because their contract is over and they are eligible for an upgrade, according to a new poll of over 1,000 adults conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of RetailMeNot.com. One in eight (13%) say it would be because they want another type of phone; switching from an Android (7%), an iPhone (4%), or a BlackBerry (2%) to another type of phone. The same proportion (13%) reports that they typically upgrade because they just like having the latest and greatest technology. Fewer than one in ten (7%) would do because they dislike the service provided by their carriers, while one-quarter (25%) say that their does not apply to them.

  • Women are more likely than men to upgrade their phone because they are eligible (46% vs. 38%), while men are more likely than women to do so because they want the latest technology (16%) vs. 10%).
  • Those with a household income of at least $50,000 (47%) and adults 55 and over (51%) are among those most likely to upgrade because their contracts are over and they are eligible for an upgrade.
  • Those under 35 (22%) and parents (17%) are also more likely than others to upgrade their phone because they just like having the latest and greatest technology.
  • Adults under 35 (22%) are more likely to switch out their cell phone because they want another type of phone, such as an Android or iPhone, compared to those who are 35 to 54 (12%) and 55 and older (5%).

Few Adults Just Trash their Old Cell Phones

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of adults find some other use for their old cell phone(s) other than sending it to a landfill. One quarter (25%) say that they typically recycle their old cell phone(s), about one in six (17%) donate them, and about one in eight (13%) trade them in for a new model. One in five (19%) tend to pass their old phones onto others, including 12% who give them to the kids to play with, and 7% who typically give them to their spouse, friends or kids as a hand-me-down for them to use on their plan. Only one in ten (10%) say that they trash them, while about one in six (16%) say that this does not apply to them.

  • Men are almost twice as likely as women to trash their cell phones (13% vs. 7%), while women are more likely than men to either donate them (20% vs. 14%), or give them to the kids to play with (15% vs. 9%).
  • Those aged 55 and over are also more likely to donate their phones, compared to younger adults (25% vs. 13%).

Improved Battery Life Most Hoped-For Feature for the New iPhone 5

Among those familiar with the iPhone, about four in ten (39%) choose the battery life as the feature they most dislike, followed by the keyboard (21%), cell reception (20%), Siri limitations (11%) and volume controls (11%). However, four in ten (38%) report that they do not have an issue with any of these iPhone features.

As such, those familiar with the iPhone are most hoping that the iPhone 5 will address many of these gripes. The most wished for enhancements for the iPhone 5 include an improved battery life (63%), improved cell phone reliability/receptions (46%), faster processing speed (44%), and a larger screen (43%). Other desired improvements include keyboard improvement for typing emails and text messages (36%), a thinner/slimmer body (30%), Siri improvements (25%), digital payment technology (20%), and presentation projection capabilities (15%). Fewer than one in ten (9%) are not hoping for any of these specific features and/or improvements.

  • Men are more likely than women to be hoping for faster processing speed (49% vs. 39%), whereas women are more likely to be looking for keyboard improvements (42% vs. 31% of men).
  • Parents (27%) and those with college degrees (25%) are among those most likely to say they’d like the new iPhone to have digital payment technology.

Six in Ten Say Kids Should Be Allowed to Have a Cell Phone before 10th Grade

Six in ten adults (60%) say that they would let a child own a cell phone before 10th grade, though a plurality (42%) feel that kids should at least be in middle school (6th grade) before getting their own cell phone. Far fewer believe that a child should have their own phone in 4th or 5th grade (13%), in 1st to 3rd grade (4%), or in Kindergarten (1%).

A third (32%) say kids should have to wait until 10th to 12th grade, and one in ten (9%) believe a child should be college-aged (age 18 and up) before getting their own phone.

  • Parents are more likely to let a child in a younger age range own a cell phone. Nearly seven in ten (68%) would let a child in 4th through 9th grade own one, compared to only half (50%) of those without children. On the other hand, those without children are almost twice as likely as parents to say a child should be in at least 10th grade before getting a cell phone (46% vs. 24%).
  • Men and women also differ when it comes to what they feel is age appropriate: men are more likely to say a child should be at least college-aged before getting their won cell phone (11% vs. 6%), while women are more likely than men to say they would let a 4th or 5th grader have a phone (15% vs. 11%).

Opinion Split on Whether Children Should Pay for their Cell Phone Usage

Adults are almost evenly split on whether they, as a parent, would require their child to contribute financially to the phone plan. Just under half (49%) say that their child should pay for their usage, including 15% who believe their child should pay for all of it, while just over half (51%) say that they would pay for their child’s cell phone usage until the child is 18 or leaves the house.

  • A majority of those aged 55 and over (54%) say that they would require their child to pay for at least part of their usage, compared to only 46% of those under 55.
  • On the other hand, parents (60%) and those without a college degree (54% ) tend to be more likely to say that they would pay for their child’s usage.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted August 22-24, 2012. For the survey, a national sample of 1,006 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of 1,006 and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Rebecca Sizelove
Senior Research Manager
Ipsos Public Affairs

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In the U.S., UK and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, and the Hispanic polling partner of Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBC Universal providing Spanish-language content to U.S. Hispanics and audiences around the world.

Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

To learn more visit: www.ipsos-na.com

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

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A Plurality of US Adults Typically Wait until their Contract Is Eligible to Upgrade their Cell Phone

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Rebecca Sizelove Strong
Vice President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs