Smartphone users say easy availability, coupled with attractive promotions, enables them to upgrade their devices quickly. Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dubai: As the countdown begins to September 12, the red letter day when Apple is set to reveal its next iPhone, XPRESS has found that UAE residents on an average refresh their smartphones in less than two years.

The inference is based on smartphone shipment figures revealed by International Data Corporation (IDC), a global provider of market intelligence.

Nabila Popal, senior research manager at IDC, said 5.7 million phones were shipped to the UAE in 2016, of which 4.4 million or 78 per cent were smartphones. Given that the country has a population of around nine million, it can be inferred that the UAE has a smartphone refresh rate of less than two years.

Even in the second quarter of this year, IDC figures show that 1.4 million phones were shipped to the UAE, of which 76 per cent were smartphones.

Refresh rate

According to Popal, consumers in the UAE replace their smartphones faster than in other country in the region, especially Africa where the refresh rate could go up to three or four years. The reasons are not hard to find.

Popal said, “To begin with, people here have huge disposable incomes. They are also conscious about having the latest and the greatest in technology. So they tend to replace their phones more quickly than others.”

Smartphone users said the easy availability of smartphones, coupled with attractive promotions by telecom operators and retailers, also enable them to upgrade their devices quickly.

“I purchased an iPhone 6S a year and a half back. I recently received a call from my telecom operator asking me to go in for a 7S with a two-year contract that offered the same package I have. I could hardly resist. But with the iPhone 8 being released anytime now, I think I am going to wait for the latest model,” said Ria, a young journalist in Dubai who changes her phone once every 18-24 months.

There are other factors too.

Priyanjali Sarcar, a Dubai resident who uses an Android phone and goes in for a change every one and a half years, said, “Brand loyalty plays a key role while changing a phone. So does the camera feature - the better the specs in a next generation phone, the faster is the switch. Demographics can also be a determining factor as youngsters are known to make quicker changes.”

‘Big event’

Meanwhile, news about invites going out for Apple’s “big event” on September 12, the first of its kind to be hosted in the Steve Jobs Theatre on its new Apple Park campus in Cupertino, has unleashed fresh bouts of speculation on when it will be available in the local market.

According to a leading industry expert, “Going by the tradition in the last two years, we expect the phone’s physical release by September 25. The territories that will be included in the first and second rounds of delivery globally depend on the stocks. Thus far, the UAE has been part of the second delivery schedule. But this year, rumour has it that the delivery may happen in the first round as there is an official Apple store in Dubai now.”

Retailers non-committal

Dubai retailers are still not ready to commit on the actual date of arrival of the new phone or its model. “Grapevine says two new versions will be available with prices starting from Dh2,599,” said one of them without wanting to be named.

Another said, “There is speculation that a new generation phone with a classy display technology will be out early next year. So some who are planning to change their iPhones might want to wait till then.”