Time to Upgrade Your Old Phone? More Consumers Say, ‘Not Yet’
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Time to Upgrade Your Old Phone? More Consumers Say, ‘Not Yet’

By YANG JIE
Mon, Aug 22, 2022 9:11amGrey Clock 4 min
Global smartphone shipments fell nearly 9% in the second quarter, as inflation worries outweigh the urge to get the latest phone

The global smartphone market is taking a breather.

With inflation lifting the cost of daily necessities like gasoline and food, many phone owners are sticking with their current models longer, according to industry executives. Companies are making fewer phones and fewer phone parts, and they are planning for a further rough patch ahead.

China’s Xiaomi Corp., the world’s third-largest smartphone maker after Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., said Friday that it shipped 26% fewer smartphones in the April-to-June quarter compared with a year earlier, and smartphone-related revenue fell 28% to the equivalent of $6.2 billion.

Xiaomi cited shrinking consumer demand in China, which had pandemic-related lockdowns in the quarter, as well as rising food and fuel prices around the globe.

In the same quarter, worldwide smartphone shipments declined nearly 9% compared with a year earlier to 286 million units, according to research firm International Data Corp. The biggest drag on the market was China, but the U.S. and most other regions were also weaker, IDC said.

Sean Mullee, a 23-year-old economist in Washington, D.C., recently moved to the capital from Ohio and said he found the cost of living high, especially now with inflation running at more than 8%. Mr. Mullee, who has an iPhone X he got a couple of years ago, said he wasn’t planning to upgrade for now.

“When your car breaks down, it’s like, ‘OK, well I need a car, so I have to go get one.’ But until then, I’m going to keep putting it off,” he said.

The situation has changed from the first two years of the pandemic, when people staying at home were using their phones more. In that period, demand was strong and the biggest problem for the industry was the supply chain, which was hit by shipping delays, Covid-19 lockdowns and a shortage of semiconductors. Those issues haven’t gone away but are gradually easing.

“What started out as a supply-constrained industry earlier this year has turned into a demand-constrained market,” said Nabila Popal, an analyst with IDC.

The slowdown isn’t uniform. Sales of smartphones priced above $900 grew more than 20% in the first half of this year compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research. The segment includes Samsung’s foldable smartphones and many of Apple’s latest iPhones.

Only about one in 10 smartphones globally fell into that premium category in the first half of the year, but it accounted for 70% of industry profits, Counterpoint said. Canalys Research analyst Runar Bjørhovde said wealthy consumers aren’t as bothered by the higher cost of daily expenses and still want to have the latest phones in their pockets.

On the flip side, some big carriers are seeing more subscribers default on their payments as inflation takes a bite out of household finances. “Naturally they’re not going to see people buying new phones if they can’t even pay for their phone subscriptions,” said Mr. Bjørhovde.

Samsung introduced budget 5G models in March, a move it said was aimed at stimulating demand, while it is also pitching foldable phones that cost as much as $1,800 in the premium market.

Apple, which is expected to roll out the latest versions of its iPhone in September, benefits from being primarily a high-end brand, but there are signs that it can’t rest easy.

The biggest iPhone assembler, Foxconn Technology Group, said this month that it saw slowing demand for smartphones, as did Qualcomm Inc., a chip supplier to Apple and others, in July.

Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a leader in advanced smartphone chips, said recently that its smartphone business is no longer its biggest revenue generator. The No. 1 spot is now held by high-performance computing chips that are used in applications such as graphics processing and autonomous driving.

China, which accounts for nearly a quarter of global smartphone shipments, is at the centre of concerns about global demand.

From July 29 to Aug. 1, Apple took the unusual step of discounting its iPhones in China and running ads online advertising the sale. It knocked the equivalent of nearly $100 off the price of its iPhone 13 Pro Max and 13 Pro models.

Wang Xiang, the president of Xiaomi, alluded to a similar situation on Friday when reporting the company’s weak results, including a 67% drop in net profit. “Due to the weak market demand, we are trying various ways to clear our inventory, which has caused a decline in profit,” he said.

Zhao Haijun, co-chief executive officer of Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., said he saw some companies involved in making smartphones or smartphone parts suddenly cutting orders.

“That triggered a panic in the supply chain,” Mr. Zhao said on an investor call this month.

Feng Xiao, a 37-year-old sports-event organiser based in Shanghai, echoed Mr. Mullee in the U.S. when asked whether she was planning to upgrade her phone. “My iPhone 12, which I’ve used for about two years, is still just fine,” she said.

Analysts said they thought demand would likely start to improve later this year or next year and the people who say they are happy with their phones would eventually get restless. That assumes there won’t be major global disruptions such as a deepening of the U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan or a new surge in inflation.

“We continue to believe that any reduction today is not demand that is lost, but simply pushed forward,” said IDC’s Ms. Popal.

—Jiyoung Sohn contributed to this article.



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New research suggests spending 40 percent of household income on loan repayments is the new normal

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Requiring more than 30 percent of household income to service a home loan has long been considered the benchmark for ‘housing stress’. Yet research shows it is becoming the new normal. The 2024 ANZ CoreLogic Housing Affordability Report reveals home loans on only 17 percent of homes are ‘serviceable’ if serviceability is limited to 30 percent of the median national household income.

Based on 40 percent of household income, just 37 percent of properties would be serviceable on a mortgage covering 80 percent of the purchase price. ANZ CoreLogic suggest 40 may be the new 30 when it comes to home loan serviceability. “Looking ahead, there is little prospect for the mortgage serviceability indicator to move back into the 30 percent range any time soon,” says the report.

“This is because the cash rate is not expected to be cut until late 2024, and home values have continued to rise, even amid relatively high interest rate settings.” ANZ CoreLogic estimate that home loan rates would have to fall to about 4.7 percent to bring serviceability under 40 percent.

CoreLogic has broken down the actual household income required to service a home loan on a 6.27 percent interest rate for an 80 percent loan based on current median house and unit values in each capital city. As expected, affordability is worst in the most expensive property market, Sydney.

Sydney

Sydney’s median house price is $1,414,229 and the median unit price is $839,344.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $211,456 to afford a home loan for a house and $125,499 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $120,554.

Melbourne

Melbourne’s median house price is $935,049 and the median apartment price is $612,906.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $139,809 to afford a home loan for a house and $91,642 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $110,324.

Brisbane

Brisbane’s median house price is $909,988 and the median unit price is $587,793.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $136,062 to afford a home loan for a house and $87,887 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $107,243.

Adelaide

Adelaide’s median house price is $785,971 and the median apartment price is $504,799.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $117,519 to afford a home loan for a house and $75,478 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $89,806.

Perth

Perth’s median house price is $735,276 and the median unit price is $495,360.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $109,939 to afford a home loan for a house and $74,066 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $108,057.

Hobart

Hobart’s median house price is $692,951 and the median apartment price is $522,258.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $103,610 to afford a home loan for a house and $78,088 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $89,515.

Darwin

Darwin’s median house price is $573,498 and the median unit price is $367,716.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $85,750 to afford a home loan for a house and $54,981 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $126,193.

Canberra

Canberra’s median house price is $964,136 and the median apartment price is $585,057.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $144,158 to afford a home loan for a house and $87,478 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $137,760.

 

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