Updated: September 8, 2021

Ahead of Rumored iPhone 13 Launch, Only 10% of Current Users Plan to Upgrade

Satellite connectivity and camera improvements are the most anticipated rumored features among iPhone owners

Apple’s newest iPhone, expected to be introduced in mid-September, has been widely rumored to offer several advanced features, such as satellite connectivity, upgraded camera technology, and longer battery life. It’s also expected that the display notch will shrink, though not as much as eagle-eyed Ted Lasso fans were hoping for.

Apple sold more than 100 million iPhone 12s within the first seven months of that model’s launch last year, but will the company be as lucky with iPhone 13 (the device’s unconfirmed name)?

To understand the appetite current users have for the latest model – and which features have them most excited – we conducted a study of more than 1,500 iPhone users. Read on for the full results of our research.

Key Findings

  • Ten percent of iPhone users plan to upgrade when the iPhone 13 is released; 26 percent aren’t sure yet, and 64 percent said they have no plans to make the switch.
  • A large percentage of those planning to upgrade have relatively new phones; 33 percent have phones less than a year old.
  • Satellite connectivity, camera improvements, and larger battery capacity are the rumored upgrades people are looking forward to most.

70 Percent of People Ready to Upgrade Have Had Current Phone for Two Years or Less

Just one in 10 iPhone users in our survey said they planned to upgrade to the newest iPhone when it’s released, while 26 percent said they weren’t sure yet. Nearly 2 in 3 said they wouldn’t be changing out their current phone for the latest model.

Still, with an estimated 116 million iPhone users in the United States, that could equate to almost 12 million surefire sales if the phone launches, and another 30 million if undecided users end up making the switch.

While men and women share similar upgrade plans, the age of their current phone had a major impact on iPhone users’ plans to buy the new model. Seventy percent of people who plan to upgrade have owned their phones for two years or less, including one in three who have phones no older than one year.

Percentage of iPhone users planning to upgrade, by age of current phone

1-12 months 33%
13-24 months 37%
25-36 months 19%
More than 36 months 11%

The fact that the biggest block of people planning to upgrade have owned their current phones for no more than two years could be tied to the fact that some people finance their phones through their mobile carriers rather than purchasing them outright, and the iPhone 13’s release may coincide with the end of their previous financing agreement.

Half of Upgraders Say Satellite Connectivity, Camera Improvements Are Driving Their Decision

Low earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity is a technology that allows smartphone users to make calls and send texts while out of cell tower range. LEO technology is perhaps the splashiest rumored new feature of the iPhone 13, and it’s the most popular rumored upgrade among current iPhone users planning to buy the new model when it comes out.

Twenty-seven percent of people who said they would buy the iPhone 13 said satellite connectivity was the single rumored feature that appealed most to them, followed by 22 percent who are most looking forward to camera improvements. Some leaks have indicated that various models across the iPhone 13 line would feature improved camera depth perception capabilities, portrait mode video, and ultra-wide lenses.

Which rumored new feature is most exciting and appealing to you?*

Satellite connectivity (enables texts and calls without cell service) 27%
New camera and video features 22%
Larger battery capacity 15%
Improved/faster processor 14%
Other 11%
New phone colors 8%
Fingerprint reader 4%

* Among iPhone users who are planning to buy the iPhone 13

Battery drain is a common complaint among iPhone users, particularly when Apple pushes iOS upgrades, and a larger battery capacity is the third most popular new feature that may ship on the iPhone 13.

While men and women planning to upgrade equally look forward to some of the phone’s improvements, they were split on several of the biggest rumored features. Nearly one in three men said LEO connectivity was the feature that excited them most (compared to 21 percent of women), while a similar percentage of women said camera improvements were driving their decision the most (compared to 14 percent of men). They were also split on better processing power, with 20 percent of men saying this was their favorite new feature compared to just six percent of women.

In other words, men seem most excited about internal technical improvements, while women are most eager to have improved camera and video functionality from their iPhones.

Nearly Two in Three Holdouts Say Some Features Could Convince Them

Among those who said they weren’t planning to upgrade or weren’t sure yet, only 31 percent indicated that they couldn’t pinpoint a feature that would persuade them to upgrade now. Many of the same rumored new features that are driving those already planning to upgrade are motivating for holdouts, too.

Which rumored features, if incorporated into the new iPhone, would persuade you to upgrade?*

Nothing will persuade me to upgrade at this time 31%
Larger battery capacity 20%
Satellite connectivity 17%
New camera and video features 11%
Improved/faster processor 7%
Fingerprint reader 4%
New phone colors 2%
Improved graphics 1%
Other 7%

* Among iPhone users who are not planning to buy the iPhone 13

Twenty percent said larger battery capacity would persuade them, followed by satellite connectivity (17 percent) and camera improvements (11 percent). Holdouts appear to be more motivated by battery capacity improvements than those definitely planning to upgrade.

About seven percent of people who aren’t planning to upgrade said they had “other" features in mind that could convince them to switch to the latest model. By far the most common answer from this small group of people was affordability. A majority of those who gave us their own unique reason why they might upgrade said if the phones were more affordable, they’d consider it. With a price tag that will probably be near or over $1,000 for most models, it’s little wonder why so many holdouts are hung up on price. Other users are simply hanging onto their old devices until they totally give out.

Conclusion

Since the days when iconic Apple founder Steve Jobs created the template for product launch presentations, Apple’s annual iPhone rollout is among the most anticipated tech events of the year. And given the fact that Apple remains one of the two dominant smartphone brands in the U.S., it’s fair to say millions of current iPhone users are eagerly anticipating getting their hands on all the rumored goodies iPhone 13 will have to offer.

Methodology

We surveyed 1,531 U.S. iPhone users 18 and older about their plans to upgrade their devices when Apple introduces its next model, expected to be named iPhone 13. We asked about their upgrade plans, their current phones, and which expected features appealed to them most. Our survey was conducted online Sept. 1-2, 2021.