iPhone users planning to replace their phones annually dropped from 27.8 percent to 16.0 percent over last year (in Chinese), according to a report from the research unit of Tencent Penguin Intelligence. The same figure for Android users suffered a similar plunge from 34.7 percent to 23.5 percent, but still on a higher replacement rate than iPhones.

Percentage of users trading their smartphones annually in 2016-2017 (Image credit: Penguin Intelligence)

Even though Chinese smartphone market is quickly nearing its saturation point, it still constitutes a significant driver for the global market as an active replacement market. But as the landscape continues to evolve, the new driving force in smartphone replacement is losing momentum while Chinese users are replacing their smartphones less frequently.

Although this is a general trend in China’s smartphone industry, the feeling is especially strong among iPhone users given it’s usually pricier and sturdier. In a sense, this is good news for Apple which enjoys a better reputation as a more sustainable gadget. However, this is also a bitter news for the smartphone maker which is betting on its new iPhone 8 and iPhone X to turbocharge the slowing Chinese market.

Brand-wise, the replacement cycle of most smartphone brands stood at around two years, the report noted. iPhone features the longest replacement cycle with 40.9 percent of the researched iPhone users are changing their phones after three years of usage or even longer. Xiaomi has the shortest cycle with 80 percent of the users replace their phones within two years.

Chinese user’s answer to whether they will buy the new iPhone model (Image credit: Penguin Intelligence)

Interestingly, the report also shed some light on Chinese users’ attitude towards Apple’s latest smartphone products iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Among the existing iPhone users, 33.8 percent said they want to buy the new models after the release event. Only 5.2 percent of non-iPhone users are considering to buy a new model and over 80% said they wouldn’t buy.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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