Smartphone buyers don’t know what they want

March 15, 2012

Smartphone buyers don't know what they wantA variety of surveys published this week suggest US smartphone owners have come to demand everything, no matter how unrealistic. It seems we want larger screens and 4G connections, but are also pissed at shoddy battery life.

According to NPD, more than a third of smartphones sold between October and December last year were 4G compatible. The majority of those were HSPA+ rather than LTE or WiMax. The group’s survey also found that people who specifically set out to buy a 4G handset (as opposed to simply upgrading to a new phone generally) were most likely to choose LTE, which seems to be winning the battle for “brand” recognition, if not sales.

The shift comes despite smartphone users being likely to rate battery life as a bigger problem with 4G handsets rather than 3G models. That may be a combination of phones using more power to find networks and people spending more time using the handsets when they have fast speeds.

In both cases, battery life is usually the element of a phone that causes most dissatisfaction for users. This goes beyond irritation: J.D. Power and Associates reports that battery life is one of the biggest factors in deciding if a customer is happy overall with a phone, whether they return it, and whether they stick with the same brand when upgrading.

Still, while we want batteries to last longer, it also seems we want them to power bigger displays. A somewhat vague study by Strategy Analytics found 90 percent of people want a phone that has a bigger display than their current model. There’s no word on why they don’t simply get one, though the results do suggest that for iPhone owners at least their “small” display isn’t a dealbreaker.

All that said, what Americans think is looking to be getting less important to smartphone manufacturers. IDC is now predicting that by the end of this year, there’ll be more new smartphones sold in China than the United States. The company warned that those who want to capitalize on this trend (as well as breaking markets such as Brazil and India) may need to rethink their current models of both handset costs and data plans.

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One Response to “Smartphone buyers don’t know what they want”

  1. Joey:

    I wanted to try LTE last year, so I bought an HTC Thunderbolt, and it was the worst phone I’ve ever had, even if if was for two days. The battery was a joke. I know progress has been made in the battery parts of LTE phones these days, but I still think that these phones are pushed out too fast. I would love to have an LTE phone with a big screen without having to carry a charger with me wherever I go.

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