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Survey: 35 percent of Android users might switch to larger iPhone

updated 01:59 am EDT, Wed June 25, 2014

Investment bank study shows strong interest, even if bigger screen costs extra

A new survey of future smartphone buyers by RBC Capital Markets suggests that a new iPhone with a larger display could help Apple chip away at some of Samsung and other rivals' sales of Android-based big-screen smartphones and "phablets." Analyst Amit Daryanani, who recently raised his 12-month target price for AAPL stock to $100, told investors that the study showed that screen size was a significant factor in consumer resistance to buying an iPhone.



The iPhone is already the top-selling individual brand of smartphone worldwide, and nearly half of those surveyed (49.4 percent) said they plan to buy an iPhone in the next three months. Two factors have combined to help Android-based rivals gain traction against the iPhone, however: price and screen size.

Competitors like Samsung and Nokia sell a huge variety of phones, ranging from "dumb" feature phones to middle-grade "barely-smart" models that are cheap to make and sell, but lack a number of the features, style and polish of Android-based "premium" smartphones like the Galaxy S5 or the HTC One M8. The bulk of sales by competitors to Apple appear to be in the middle group of smartphones, which are used much more for simple telecommunication, messaging and games in order to keep the cost of monthly plans as low as possible.

The survey was conducted among 4,000 respondents, and found that 23 percent of all respondents, and 35 percent of current or future Android buyers, would consider an iPhone if Apple sold a model with a display larger than four inches. Large-screen smartphones are said to account for nearly a quarter of Android end-user sales -- and although some models may overreach in screen size simply for bragging rights, there is no denying that smartphones with moderately larger screens than the iPhone offers have caught on with a segment of the market (though the majority of cellphone buyers overall appear to prefer four-inch or less displays, which outsell larger and more expensive phones quite significantly).



The survey also revealed that the top answer from respondents (35 percent) to the question "what prevents you from buying an iPhone" was "price" -- even though iPhones cost the same both on- an off-contract as its premium rivals. The result suggests that budget buyers do not even consider flagship phones, from any manufacturer, and thus have more to choose from among Android-based offerings.

The survey also found that desire for a large-screen iPhone was so strong that 64 percent buyers planning to get an iPhone as their next smartphone would prefer a 4.7-inch or larger iPhone, and some would be willing to pay extra for something even bigger. A theoretical 5.5-inch iPhone was deemed worthy of up to a $100 premium by 26 percent of respondents, pushing the contract down-payment price to $300. Apple is thought to be considering such a model, but to date few legitimate leaks have verified the idea that it is actually in production or eminently to arrive.

The most popular choice among would-be iPhone buyers was a 4.7-inch model priced at the same level as the current iPhone 5s, garnering 38 percent support among iPhone buyers. The current iPhone 5s and 5c, priced at $99 and "free" with contract based on a future iPhone 6 taking the $199 price point, took second place with 36 percent support, with respondents slightly favoring an iPhone 5c at no up-front cost (21 percent) over a $99 iPhone 5s (15 percent). The theoretical 5.5-inch iPhone at $299 with contract drew 26 percent support.



The fact that Apple upgrades its iPhone on a yearly basis -- generally in the late summer or early fall -- is now apparently well-known. Some 74 percent of respondents were aware that Apple is planning to refresh the iPhone later this year, and 40 percent of current iPhone owners said that they plan to upgrade when the new iPhone is available. The current move by T-Mobile and other carriers to allow more frequent equipment upgrades in exchange for small monthly extra payments could benefit Apple, as iPhone owners are always eager to get the latest model when possible, the RBC report told investors.

The main feature customers said they look for when deciding on upgrades was reported to be battery life. Around a third of those polled listed that as the top priority, with 23 percent naming a larger screen as most important, followed by 18 percent that rated faster processors as the top-most factor in their decisions and 12 percent that listed the camera as most important to them. The RBC report says that larger-display iPhones from Apple could lead to as much as a 20 percent jump in year-over-year sales of iPhones, and was generally very positive on the company's outlook for the remainder of 2014 and beyond.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-28-08

    35% is an extremely high amount considering how many Android smartphones there are out there. Such a number seems highly optimistic even for a sample of 4000. It will be interesting to see how many units Apple can ramp up for the first weekend to see if any records can be broken.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    This seems to show that all things relatively equal in hardware, the true differentiator is iOS. For all the "I love that I can customize it like crazy" by Android users, a great many people prefer the clean, simple operation of iOS vs Android. At least, I know that is why I took back my gorgeous HTC One for an iPhone again.

  1. FastiBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-17-05

    I still don't even like the large iPhone 5 format. I really hope i don't have to ditch iPhone over something as stupid as apple trying to compete with aircraft carrier "phones". If you want a tablet, get a tablet. but keep phones proper sized. :

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-15-06

    My wife is eager for larger iPhone. She finds the current iPhone is too small to read after so getting used to her iPad. While myself prefers the current size. I think there's definitely a market for larger iPhone. All of my upper level executives use large screen Android phones because they (+/- 50yr-old) can read their emails better on the go. They can't stand the small screen iPhone. But keep in mind, all of these executives have iPad already except one has a Kindle because he is a heavy book reader. So they know iOS. Now think of Tim Cook and his 40 to 50+ yr-old buddies at Apple, I am sure they can really appreciate a larger screen size iPhone with larger fonts.

  1. dprimary

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-01-10

    What percentage of people won't buy a new model if the phone is larger? The 5 is just on the edge of too big already. The 4 was the right size. My top requirement for any phone is that it comfortably fits in my pocket.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-01-08

    @dprimary

    I concur .... I prefer portability, lightness, over screen size. iOS has always had magnification, so the whole "i'm too old, and I can't read small text" is BS ... just zoom in !!! I prefer the 3.5" screen to the 4", especially the ratios. I wish they would keep the 4S format with new CPU.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-23-02

    I'm old (64) and can read the screen of my iPhone 5 just fine. But if they do come out with a larger screen, I'll be interested. It's too difficult typing on the smaller screen.

  1. qazwart

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-10-01

    I wouldn't take this too seriously. It's very easy to talk about what you **might** do six months from now. Once a bigger iPhone comes out, users will weigh other factors like how much they want to change interfaces, how much of their data is on the Google ecosystem, and whether they're contract is up or not.

    However, it's always been known that most Android users are Android users by default. You go in, and are offered a free phone or even a $50 phone, and you're happy. Some choose the large Android phones over the iPhone, but mainly because they initially like the larger screen. Few choose Android because they like the highly customizable screens, or a particular widget, or even Android itself.

    This is different from iPhone users who almost all purposefully choose an iPhone because they want an iPhone. Many may not even be able to tell you way, or the advantage an iPhone has over their other choices. However, anyone who has an iPhone chose that phone.

    So, it is conceivable that there is some portion of the Android world out there that were thinking about an iPhone, but decided they wanted the larger screen, and it wouldn't surprise me if they decided to switch once they got the option to get the larger screen on an iPhone. However, I doubt it is anywhere close to 35%.

  1. chucker

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-29-07

    I guess people realise that even if they make a bigger phone, they will continue to sell the 5s and probably the 5c too, so if you like that size, you could buy one of those? And I expect that they will always have a normal pocket size iPhone for sale.

    Hopefully I just prevented a handful of people from throwing themselves of the edge of a building - no need to say thanks (-:

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    At this point, it seems like a given that a larger iPhone will be released.

    Seeing how they've handled the iPad since Jobs' death (iPad mini retina and iPad Air are virtually identical except for size), it also looks like they'll offer the same top-end phone in two different sizes.

    If they do, I couldn't mind less — as long as I still get my one-handed pocketable phone size.

    As for that 35% figure: I'm calling bullshit, given the price difference between most if Android and the iPhones.

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