More and more, smartphone users are sticking with their aging devices until they croak, and the sky-high price tag for Apple's newly unveiled iPhone X could accelerate that trend — to the detriment of mobile carriers.
Over the past decade, mobile phone buyers have grown significantly more attached to their devices. The "replacement cycle" for wireless handsets ballooned to 24.9 months in 2016, more than half a year longer than it was in 2007, according to an August report from Recon Analytics. That's one reason why smartphone sales, in general, have declined precipitously in the past four years, to about 119 million in 2017 — down more than 9 million since 2014.
At the same time, smartphones have become more expensive: The average device bought in North America sold for $567 in 2017, up $36 from 2013.
Enter the iPhone X (pronounced "ten"), the newest redesign of Apple's industry-leading smartphone, officially announced at the company's product launch event on Sept. 12. Starting at $999, and with storage options up to $1,149, the X is easily one of the most expensive mainstream smartphones on the market. Even the bare-bones iPhone 8, the cheapest phone announced at the event, raises the price floor to $699, about $50 over the last generation of iPhones.
Apple's stock percolated to new heights in anticipation of the hardware announcements. Yet the week before the X was unveiled, S&P 500's Telecommunications Services had fallen more than 15 percent in 2017 to become the worst-performing sector in the entire index.