Pricebaba survey insights: impact of COVID-19 on smartphone users

On: May 27, 2020

India’s nationwide COVID-19 lockdown resulted in sales of non-essentials goods coming to a grinding halt. Smartphone companies were among the hardest hit by the restrictions, with virtually no sales for over a month. While sales have now resumed in both offline and online channels, the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for months. Keeping this in mind, Pricebaba conducted a survey to understand how COVID-19 has impacted smartphone buyers and their purchase decisions.

The survey provides key insights into consumer behavior, such as if they are looking to buy a smartphone this year, which new smartphone they’re looking forward to the most, what their smartphone usage was like during the lockdown, and how their purchase preferences vary across demographics.

Before we get to the findings from the survey, here’s an outline of our methodology. The survey was conducted via Google Forms between May 10th to May 15th, 2020. For response collection, the survey was distributed across Pricebaba’s website and social channels. We had over 5,000 respondents to the survey, out of which 75 percent were men and 25 percent were women.

Trends in smartphone usage and purchase preferences

Likelihood of people buying a smartphone in 2020

The economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis is a cause of worry for smartphone brands, with popular opinion suggesting that many potential buyers will hold off on buying a new phone this year. However, our survey revealed a surprising insight. 70 percent of respondents said they were still looking to buy a phone this year, while 19 percent said they were considering buying one. Only 10 percent of respondents said they were not looking to upgrade to a new phone in 2020.

When people are looking to buy a new phone this year

We asked respondents when they were planning to buy a new phone in 2020, and 36 percent said they would make a purchase as soon as online delivery or offline stores were functional in their neighbourhoods. Almost an equal number said they were waiting for a good deal or offer. 21 percent of survey respondents were still waiting for a good smartphone to launch, while about 8 percent were not looking to buy a new phone.

What people did the most with their phones during lockdown

With people having been confined to their homes for nearly two months, there has been an increased dependence on smartphones to stay connected. When respondents were asked what their primary phone usage was during the lockdown period, 25 percent said it was staying connected with friends and family. A sizable number, 20 percent, mostly used their phones to play games. Nearly 19 percent used their devices mainly for online education, which is expected given that schools have been shut and lessons have gone digital. Nearly 18 percent largely used their phones to watch videos, while only 2 percent picked listening to music.

Which smartphone aspect matters the most to people in their next purchase

There are various parameters users consider when buying their next phone. 40 percent of survey respondents said they were looking for faster performance compared to their current phone, while 26 percent wanted longer battery life. 12 percent wanted a better display, while over 8 percent wanted more storage. Only 7 percent said they wanted faster charging, and 6 percent wanted a better selfie camera. Many phone brands are focusing on bringing fast charging to their devices, but this feature didn’t seem to be a priority for our respondents.

How people are researching new phones during the lockdown

We asked respondents how they were consuming information about new phones during the lockdown period, and 34 percent (over one-third of all respondents) said they use gadget sites like Pricebaba for research. A large chunk of respondents – over 28 percent – get information on the latest gadgets from YouTube. Nearly 17 percent use e-commerce sites to research new phones, while only about 9 percent ask their friends and family for recommendations.

New smartphones and launch offers consumers are looking forward to 

Most awaited newly launched / upcoming high-end smartphone

The most popular flagship phones were the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, with 22 percent of survey respondents picking these devices. This was followed by Xiaomi’s Mi 10, which had 15 percent of votes. Notably, the Mi 10 is the first premium flagship launched by Xiaomi in India. As for the rest, 6 percent of respondents were looking forward to the iPhone SE 2020, while 4 percent are waiting for the upcoming OPPO Find X2 Pro.

Most awaited newly launched / upcoming mid-range smartphone

When it comes to the mid-range segment, nearly 20 percent of respondents said they were looking forward to Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. The OnePlus Z, a rumoured device expected to be launched later this year, had 17 percent of votes. About 9 percent of respondents are looking forward to the POCO F2, an upcoming affordable flagship from the Xiaomi sub-brand. Realme’s new budget Narzo series racked up 8 percent of votes, while the Vivo V19 grabbed 6 percent.

Launch offers that appeal to people the most while purchasing a new phone

Most smartphone brands entice users with various launch offers for their new phones, ranging from discounts to freebies. Our survey revealed an interesting insight here, with nearly 28 percent of respondents saying they would prefer discounted accessories such as earphones, smart bands, etc as part of a launch offer. This was followed by 26 percent who wanted cashback, while 22 percent opted for interest-free EMIs. Telecom offers that include free talktime and double data are among the most common launch offers, but these appealed to just 3 percent of survey respondents.

Demographic trends in smartphone purchase preferences

When it comes to how age and gender affect smartphone buying decisions, here are the key insights from the survey:

  • Fast performance is the most-wanted feature among users below 25 years of age
  • Battery life matters the most to users below 35 years, possibly due to the increased dependence on phones for work, education and entertainment
  • Launch offers of discounted accessories mattered the most to users below 25 years, while interest-free EMIs appealed to users in the 25 to 34 years age band
  • Around 65 percent of men and nearly 50 percent of women research new phones on YouTube and gadget sites like Pricebaba
  • Interest-free EMIs and cashback are more popular among men
  • Telecom offers and discounted accessories appeal more to women
Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has over 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.