Many critics have denounced smartphone manufacturers in recent years for producing devices that quickly become outdated, creating a “planned obsolescence” that is costly for consumers and the planet.
Yet while many consumers clamor for increased “repairability” — and thus longer lifespans — for these devices, a new Yale-led study finds that there is a more important factor in determining how long smartphones remain in use: Brand cachet.
In an analysis of roughly 500,000 listings of secondhand Apple and Samsung phones sold on eBay, researchers found that brand, an intangible property, is more important than repairability or memory size in extending the life of a product.
Writing in the Journal of Industrial Ecology
, they conclude that Apple’s iPhones on average have an additional year of use even though the two brands are comparable in quality and technological innovation.