Smartphones vital to mental health for many during the COVID-19 pandemic

The iPhone 12 was presented at Apple’s livestream keynote on Oct. 13 and will release on Oct. 23. People will purchase Apple’s new phone even if they can’t afford it, according to Manoj Agarwal, professor of marketing and director of the MS Data Analytics program at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

A smartphone is critically important for some to maintain their mental health, says Agarwal, and many think a new phone is worth going into debt for.

“As people are stuck at home, they are using their phones more and more for communications and entertainment,” said Agarwal. “Even if they have laptops and desktops, they may not have one for every person, and they are not as convenient. So when they start to use their phones intensively, they may realize that the phone that they have is slow or is not able to do what they want. So since they think of it as a critical resource to keep them sane, they are willing to go into debt for it.

Some have argued that Apple should charge less for the new iPhone due to economic hardship caused by the pandemic, but Agarwal points to options outside of Apple.

There are a large number of competitors in the US market with multiple brands and at various price points,” says Agarwal. “They can always buy a non-Apple phone for their needs.”