Apple Smartphone Users Surveyed Ahead Of 2020 iPhone Announcement Want Faster, And Smaller, iPhones

FEATURE: 10.12.20 – While we won’t officially know until October 13 at the “Hi Speed.” Apple Special Event what new features will be included in the flagship models of the iPhone that are being released this year, the results of a recent survey show just what people planning to upgrade are searching for in a new device.

Last month, a pre-launch survey for the new iPhones — dubbed by the media as the “iPhone 12” (the general consensus of what this year’s device will be called) — asked more than 2,500 Apple smartphone users 18 years of age or older (based in the United States) if they intended to upgrade, what features they looked forward to, and which model they would opt for. Interestingly enough, while faster devices were a given from the majority of people that were surveyed, the other important factor may come as a surprise to some.

A compact form factor, such as that of the second generation iPhone SE released earlier this year, as photographed above, is one of the features that Apple smartphone users surveyed in September by SellCell are looking for in new iPhones for 2020. (Photo: Apple, Inc.)

The most interesting takeaway from the survey? Apple smartphone users who intend to upgrade to this year’s new iPhones are looking for much smaller models.

Eeny, (mini), Miny, Moe

Of the people surveyed, high on the list in second place among the important features influencing people’s decisions to upgrade to this year’s iPhone was compact form factor coming in at 51.5%. SellCell, the company that conducted the survey, reported that the new iPhones are expected to be available in three sizes — 5.4, 6.1, and 6.7 inches — with the smallest model being the most popular choice per the survey’s results. Despite having a bigger display, this particular phone could be even smaller than the 4.7-inch iPhone SE (second generation) that was released earlier this year in April due to a rumored bezel-less design.

According to the survey, approximately 54% preferred the smallest 5.4-inch display size, the 6.1-inch screen received a little over 19% of the votes, while 27% would go with the largest 6.7-inch option.

In addition to a smaller device, 44%, the majority of those who were surveyed, indicated that they wanted a cheaper iPhone. SellCell reported that several reports have suggested that the 5.4-inch model will be introduced to the mix in an attempt to, in its own words, woo budget shoppers. This standard option, while being the smallest, also would be the cheapest of the four new iPhones expected to be released by Apple this year.

Macworld magazine reported last week that the following details are what we can expect Apple to announce this year in terms of the pricing and branding of the new iPhones (albeit, still officially a rumor and not yet confirmed as of this writing) based on leaked information from two reputable sources which the publication’s editors cited in their report:

  • iPhone 12 mini: 5.4-inch model starting at $699 (or as low as $649) with 64GB of storage
  • iPhone 12: 6.1-inch model starting at $799 with 64GB of storage
  • iPhone 12 Pro: 6.1-inch model starting at $999 with 128GB of storage
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7-inch model starting at $1099 with 128GB of storage

Additional leaks surrounding the new iPhones were the colors that will be available to choose from. The low-end models will feature the standard black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED while adding new blue and green options. As for the high-end Pro models, back are silver and gold but gone is space gray which will be replaced by graphite along with the addition of a new midnight blue option.

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‘Hi Speed.’

However? The most important feature that existing Apple smartphone users were looking for in this year’s new iPhones — and the primary reason why the people surveyed were planning to upgrade this year — was: 5G. Statistically, the faster speeds ranked 58% as one of the top features on everyone’s list while 41% said it was the deciding factor to upgrading.

Out of the 41% surveyed that indicated 5G connectivity was the deciding factor to upgrading, 23% marked it as important, 15% thought it was somewhat  important, while 21% voted that it was not important in their decision-making process.

Earlier this year in July, the Apple-centric website iDrop News reported that while analysts agree that this year’s iPhones will feature 5G connectivity, there have been some disagreements as to what type it will include with most of the debate centered around whether the faster standard of the two currently offered by wireless carriers in the United States would be supported. One analyst in particular, Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a solid track record when it comes to accurately predicting what Apple products are forthcoming (based on his sources within the company’s supply chain), doubled down on his prediction that all of the flagship models of the iPhone to be released this year would include support for mmWave 5G. However, subsequent reports have suggested that that capability would be limited to the high-end Pro models which only add to the confusion.

After initially reporting that only half of this year’s new iPhones (the Pro models) would be enabled with the faster standard, the Taiwanese daily newspaper DigiTimes — which covers tech trends and the global supply chain — backtracked and reported that (as referenced by iDrop News) Apple actually will support both 5G standards on all of the flagship models of the iPhone to be released this year. The report cited industry sources in Taiwan who revealed that the 2020 series of phones will feature support for mmWave 5G and the slower sub-6GHz 5G.

However, according to iDrop News, there were also reports that surfaced about Apple’s engineers having problems with the antenna modules required to support mmWave 5G due to the fact that it operates at a significantly higher frequency range than traditional cellular services like 4G LTE or sub-6GHz 5G. A separate report that would seem to corroborate this was CNBC which reported back in January that the slower standard (which is only marginally faster than 4G LTE) will be what Apple is expected to use in its iPhone lineup this year. Furthermore, one analyst predicted that faster 5G-enabled iPhones may not launch until early 2021, with the cable news outlet pointing out that mmWave 5G (while 10x faster than 4G LTE) is not widely available yet and does / can not cover large areas and people who want the faster speeds need to be standing very close to a cell tower that offers the support for it in order to get a good signal (as it can’t pass through buildings or walls).

Survey Says?

In an analysis of the data it compiled, SellCell concluded that if the preferences of the people it surveyed are any indication, we should be seeing compact-sized and more affordable iPhone models (e.g., the iPhone SE) making a big comeback over the next few years. By the same token, the survey’s results also indicate that the consumer’s needs are not aligned with what the smartphone industry is pushing with larger displays and extravagant pricing (as exemplified by the trend Apple itself has been following in recent years). Additionally, Although the technology surrounding 5G connectivity is still in its infant stage, the survey reveals that a majority of consumers want any new iPhones to be 5G-enabled – in order to be future proof for what is going to become the wireless standard moving forward.

If it’s any indication, it is entirely plausible (in this author’s own opinion), that the “Hi Speed.” tagline of the invitation for the Apple Special Event on October 13 is the company’s way of alluding to 5G speeds — as opposed to a reference to the A14 Bionic processor almost guaranteed to be in this year’s phones and was first seen last month with the iPad Air (fourth generation), which, according to SellCell, is a chipset reportedly said to be approximately 40% faster than its predecessor — but, while such a feature is highly expected to be the icing on the cake (so to speak) of this year’s iPhone announcement, we won’t actually know for sure until the new iPhones are announced whether 5G will indeed be featured in the device (stay tuned…).

As a footnote, a forward-looking editorial in the “Appleholic” column on the website of Computerworld magazine noted at this time last year that while Apple will be the catalyst for 5G adoption in North America? The op ed piece made reference to a report which predicted that it won’t be until next year before 80% of the population of North America sees widespread coverage of 5G over the entire continent. Furthermore, user adoption will take some time as consumers will need to upgrade and/or migrate to new hardware (e.g., 5G-enabled iPhones).

According to the author (who provided a handful of statistics in their editorial), the biggest growth rate for 5G will be between 2020 and 2021, up to 14%, when the GSMA (an association which represents the worldwide mobile communications industry) will be looking to Apple’s deployment of 5G-enabled iPhones to help boost adoption, where by 2022, the data shows the numbers increase to 24%. In addition, globally, it wont be until at least 2025 before the next generation wireless standard accounts for just shy of 50% of 5G connections around the world (up from 1% in 2019 and 4% this year).

With regard to whether existing Apple smartphone users intended to upgrade to the new iPhones once they are released — which was the impetus for the survey being conducted by SellCell (the U.S.-based company is the largest mobile phone and tablet comparison site on the web and guarantees the best price for anyone looking to sell their old phone) — out of the 4 in 10 people surveyed, 41% indicated that they were planning to do so, 34% said that they were sticking with their current iPhone model, while 25% selected “maybe” as their response as they weren’t yet sure whether or not they would be upgrading this year.


A Note from the Author: the “Hi Speed.” Apple Special Event, which will be live streamed on the web at apple.com, will begin at 10:00 AM PDT (1:00 PM EDT) on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 from the company’s headquarters at Apple Park in Cupertino, California (and is being held virtually due to the global pandemic).

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