It’s that time of year again. Samsung has unveiled its latest smartphones, the Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra, while Apple is expected to introduce another iPhone in March. Consumers are generally holding onto their smartphones for several years at a time now, which has made the annual upgrade cycle more challenging for manufacturers, but when they do decide to get a new device, brand loyalty can play a key role in purchase decision making.
Taking a page from the company’s Note line, Samsung is hoping to attract customers to the S22 Ultra by including a built-in S Pen stylus to go along with a massive 6.8-inch display. The S22 and S22+, meanwhile, do not have a stylus and come with 6.1-inch and 6.6-inch screens, respectively. All three models feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, improved cameras, and vibrant AMOLED display technology. Prices range from $799 for the S22 to $1,199 for the Ultra.
The latest from Samsung is likely to do well, but for many consumers, smartphones have become so advanced that they’re hitting a point of diminishing returns on tech improvements. What can help steer some consumers in one direction or another when making a purchase, however, is product support. On that front, Samsung recently announced that it will now provide four years of annual software updates and five years of security updates for select smartphones. This includes the new S22 line, the S21 line, the Z Flip3 and Z Fold3, and the Tab S8 series. Samsung has not yet stated that the greater support will extend to cheaper models.
The four years of software support is one more than what Google offers for its Pixel smartphones but still behind Apple, which continues to support devices as old as the iPhone 6S (2015). Apple also greatly benefits from its iOS and App Store ecosystem, which makes transitions from iPhone to iPad to Mac to Apple Watch feel seamless. Features like iMessage and FaceTime, frequently used by Apple device owners, may also be hard to abandon for some consumers considering an alternative brand.
According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, Apple’s customer base does exhibit a stronger preference to stick with familiar brands than either Google phone owners or Samsung phone owners, suggesting that they are more likely to be loyal to the iPhone when it comes time to upgrade.