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The Lifetime Cost of Tech

There’s a reason why major tech brands like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft invest billions of dollars per year into research and development to release new versions of their signature products each year. 

The demand for new tech is constantly growing, with companies under intense pressure to innovate in a saturated market. According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, [1] Pew Research Center: Mobile Fact Sheet and data from the Consumer Technology Association suggests that more than 90% of U.S. households own at least one TV or mobile device. [2] Marketing Charts: 4 in 10 to Buy More Tech Due to the Pandemic

But how much can you expect to pay for all of these new gadgets over a lifetime? This research has analyzed the cost for an average person interested in technology who is purchasing common tech items. The study has looked at the cost of popular devices, including cell phones, laptops, game consoles and more.


Key findings

Which tech items do people own?

Technology ownership varies across the nation, with every household owning something different. Some may choose not to use much technology in their lives, however, external research shows a variety of ownership data across the country.

The following table highlights the most popular tech items in the U.S. based on their ownership percentages, using data from as a starting point. [3] The Most Popular Smart Home Devices 2023 For the purposes of this research, devices with less than 15% ownership were omitted to represent more popular tech items and avoid analyzing those considered to be more niche.

A list of devices analyzed in this research can be found below with their respective estimated ownership percentages.

Tech Ownership
Smartphone 85%
Laptop 68%*
Tablets (with/without voice control) 47%
Smart speaker 36%
Headphones 33%
Smart TV 26%
Smartwatch 26%
Game Console 25%
Video doorbell 15%

Source [3] The Most Popular Smart Home Devices 2023, *Source [4] Statista: Share of Americans who own a laptop as of September 2023, by age

The lifetime cost of buying and upgrading technology

To calculate the cost of owning these devices over a lifetime, the following factors were taken into consideration:

Device Average device lifespan (years) Lifetime cost
Smartphone 2.64 $26,187
Laptop 5.85 $13,755
Tablet 4.72 $10,566
Smartwatch 3 $8,801
Headphones 2.7 $5,668
Smart TV 6.6 $5,899
Game console 6 $4,507
Video doorbell 3.5 $3,172
Smart speaker 5 $2,504

Based on an average lifespan of 79.7 years for U.S. residents according to United Nations figures, [5] United Nations: World Population Prospects: The 2022 Revision and a first purchase age of 18 years old (the age when a parent is no longer legally responsible for a child) the most expensive device over a lifetime will be the smartphone. 

The analysis conducted shows that these devices have an estimated lifetime cost of $26,187, meaning you can expect to pay $895 per year on average for your device, insurance, and accessories. This cost estimate includes purchase cost, but does not factor taxes or price increases, and does not include call and data plans. 

Meanwhile, Americans can expect to pay a more modest $13,755 over the course of a lifetime to own a laptop PC over the course of a lifetime. Tablets are the third priciest overall, with a total lifetime spend of $10,332.

The costs for each of these devices have been broken down below, explaining in greater detail how figures were calculated per device to give an average lifetime cost.

Smartphone costs

The average smartphone user spends almost five hours per day on their device, [6] The State of Mobile in 2022 so it comes as no surprise that the average American invests more in their smartphone than any other piece of tech. 

One of the reasons for this is the short lifespan of the average smartphone. Research estimates that most U.S. devices will need to be replaced every 2.64 years, [8] CNET: Is It Safe to Use an Old or Used Phone? with a combination of short battery lives and demand for new products driving consumers to trade every couple of years. Consumers also need to be aware that security support for phones typically stops between 2-3 years, [8] CNET: Is It Safe to Use an Old or Used Phone? meaning the device could be vulnerable, however this differs per manufacturer, with Google now offering 7 years on their 2023-launched devices for example. [9] Google: 7 years of software updates for the Pixel 8 series

Not only are smartphones themselves expensive — $720 per device or $16,827 over a lifetime, [10] Statista: Average price of smartphones in the United States from 2013 to 2027, by segment insurance costs surpass that of all other analyzed devices. According to Investopedia, the average monthly premium for smartphone insurance is around $11 per month or $8,340 over a lifetime. [11] Investopedia: Best Cellphone Insurance

Throw in a few essential accessories; including screen protectors, cases and portable chargers, [12] GizChina: Top 15 accessories that every mobile phone needs and things can get pretty expensive. Over a lifetime, you can expect to pay over $26,000 to keep a smartphone in your pocket.

Expenditure Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $16,827
Insurance cost $8,478
Accessories cost $882
Lifetime spend $26,187

Laptop costs

In the last 40 years, personal computers evolved from a concept of science fiction to an indispensable household item. It is impossible to imagine life today without one. Industry reports from IBISWorld estimate that 94% of U.S. households now own at least a personal computer, up from 20% in the early 1990s. [13] IBISWorld: Percentage of Households With At Least One Computer

While devices might last longer than smartphones — almost six years according to Statista, [14] Statista: Desktop PC replacement cycle length in the United States from 2022 to 2027 this research suggests that you can expect to pay $6,124 over the course of a lifetime on replacing just the laptops. This is based on the average cost in the U.S. for a computer, which is $581. [15] Target: Home : Laptops

Monitors, mice, and USB dockers make accessorizing PCs pricey, and the average insurance (according to Investopedia) on top of purchasing the technology, will see consumers paying $13,755 over the course of a lifetime. [15] Target: Home : Laptops However, it appears that laptops are noticeably cheaper to own in the long run than smartphones.

Expenditure Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $6,124
Insurance cost $6,293
Accessories cost $1,337
Lifetime spend $12,960

Tablet costs

Handheld PCs were for many years only thought of in the realm of science fiction, conceptualized in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek among others. [16] Arstechnica: How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad… nearly 30 years ago Yet during the 2000s, the tech giants of Apple and Microsoft brought the tablet PC to life, with Apple’s iPad becoming synonymous with the product.

This research estimates that owning a tablet will cost users $10,566 over the course of a lifetime, with the average device coming in at $492.32 or $6,436 when spread out over an adult life. [17] Target: Tablets Add to this a specialist tablet insurance plan, which can cost as much as $3,764 over a life [18] Worth Ave. Group: Tablet Insurance; and a host of accessories including cases and screen protectors, [19] Techuda: Top 5 Best Tablet Accessories you can buy in 2023 and it appears tablets sit among the most expensive devices you can own. 

Expenditure Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $6,436
Insurance cost $3,764
Accessories cost $367
Lifetime spend $10,566

Smartwatch costs

Today, the smartwatch market is worth more than $25 billion, and is expected to grow considerably during the 2020s. [20] Fortune Business Insights: Smartwatch Market Size & Growth | Industry Outlook [2030]

This analysis shows that smartwatches are the fourth-most expensive piece of tech you can own over the course of a lifetime, setting the average American back $8,801 in total. Unlike conventional timepieces, smartwatches have an expected 3-year average lifespan, [21] Smartwatch Bro: How Long Do Smartwatches Last? making the cost to buy over an adult lifespan pricier than headphones or TVs.

With a $2,851 lifetime insurance premium [22] Securranty: Smart watch protection plans and the occasional replacement watch strap pushing lifetime costs for smartwatches over $8,000, this piece of tech is among the most expensive you can own in your life.

Expenditure Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $5,399
Insurance cost $2,851
Accessories cost $552
Lifetime spend $8,801

Headphones cost

For music lovers, a quality set of headphones are an essential item of tech. Brands like Sony, Bose, Apple and Beats compete to deliver the cleanest audio quality and best value for money. According to average prices you can expect to pay $164.10 on average per device, although this could be easily double for more well-known brands. [23] Target: Headphones

However, many headsets on the market have a relatively short lifespan, meaning consumers may need to replace their device every 2.7 years on average. [24] Headphones Addict: Headphone & Earbud Lifespan: How to Make Them Last Longer Factor in a $2.59 monthly rate to insure your device, which are often included as additional extras with device purchases, and our research estimates that a lifetime of headphone use will cost $5,668. 

Outgoing Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $3,750
Insurance cost $1,918
Accessories cost $0
Lifetime spend $5,668

Smart TV costs

Television undoubtedly sits among the most influential inventions of the 20th century. Scottish scientist John Logie Baird pioneered the technology and demonstrated its potential to the wider world, [25] BBC: John Logie Baird (1888 - 1946) but its popularity peaked with the advent of color TVs in the 1960s, at which point 93% of U.S. households owned a set, according to the New York Times. [26] New York Times: 93% of American Families Reported to Own TV Set

Today, TV remains universally popular, but ownership of ‘smart TVs’ - which allow internet access and come equipped with streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+, are on the rise. Research from estimates that 25.7% of American homes have a smart TV, [3] The Most Popular Smart Home Devices 2023 which will typically last between four and six years before replacement. [27] Home Technology Association: What Is the Life Expectancy of Your Electronics? Many more will have TVs without internet access, however devices like Google’s Chromecasts can allow them to access the internet, retroactively making them smart. 

With this in mind, the findings of this research estimate that an average smart TV can cost consumers around $450, [28] Tom’s Guide: 3 Experts Tell Us How Much to Spend on a TV (and 7 Other Buying Tips),review-4583.html resulting in a potential lifetime cost of more than $5,899 with a soundbar, averaging $181 per purchase, [29] Target: Soundbars which have a similar 7 year lifespan to TVs. [27] Home Technology Association: What Is the Life Expectancy of Your Electronics?

Outgoing Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $4,207
Insurance cost $0
Accessories cost $1,692
Lifetime spend $5,899

Game console costs

The video games industry is booming, with the Covid-19 pandemic strengthening consumer appetite for consoles and mobile games alike. A PwC report indicates that the sector’s value is expected to be worth as much as $321 billion by 2026. [30] pwc: Perspectives from the Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2023–2027

Today, the main console options on the market are Sony’s Playstation 5, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Nintendo’s Switch. Whatever your preference, this research estimates that the lifetime cost of purchasing games consoles will come in at $3,544, based on an average spend of $344.60 for the six-year life of a device. [31] Digital Trends: The best video game consoles for 2023

Often, consoles are sold with games in bundles where money may be saved compared to purchasing individually, but this study has not factored in the cost of games themselves, while some are free-to-play, modern games are typically $69.99 on release. [32] Games Industry: Are video games really more expensive? The total annual cost will depend on an individual’s gaming habits. 

No gaming experience is complete without a headset, and a quality device will cost around $94, or $963 over a lifetime. For this price, average price data is taken from’s storefront as a benchmark. [33] Target: Gaming Headsets In total, a lifetime of gaming will cost you at least $4,507. 

Outgoing Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $3,544
Insurance cost $0
Accessories cost $963
Lifetime spend $4,507

Video doorbell costs

Video doorbells are becoming an integral feature of home security, and serve a range of functions from capturing would-be home invaders to securing mail deliveries. 

These devices will set consumers back around $170 each, [34] Forbes: How Much Does A Security System Cost In 2023? meaning that you can expect to pay just shy of $3,000 over the course of a lifetime. While installation costs are an optional extra, the study factors a $175 one-time fee, [35] Angi: Ring It Up: The Cost to Install a Smart Video Doorbell meaning a video doorbell is likely to cost $3,172 over the course of a person’s life. 

Outgoing Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $2,997
Insurance cost $0
Installation cost (one time) $175
Lifetime spend $3,1732

Smart speaker costs

Lastly in the research, the study analyzed the lifetime costs of smart speakers, which currently have an ownership rate in the U.S. of around 35%, according to the research. [3] The Most Popular Smart Home Devices 2023 They serve a range of functions, from playing music to completing web orders.

Currently, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Nest are the major players in the smart speaker market, and the average device will cost around $202.89. [36] Wired: The Best Smart Speakers With Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri This can be lower for smaller speakers or higher for those with screens. Over the course of a lifetime, smart speakers work out to be the cheapest mainstream item of tech, and you can expect to pay around $2,504 in total.

Outgoing Lifetime cost
Cost to buy $2,504
Insurance cost $0
Accessories cost $0
Lifetime spend $2,504


Using the current life expectancy U.S. of 79.7, the study assumed adults will begin to buy technology at 18 years of age, which provided 61.7 years of total ownership years. Respective lifespan information per product was used to estimate an average number of years a product would be used until it should be replaced. The average number of devices owned in a lifetime is calculated by dividing the total years of technology ownership against a device’s lifespan.

Technology purchase cost

The purchase cost of each item of technology was taken from a variety of sources. See below for more information:


Insurers quote that “Standard home contents insurance only gives you technology cover for mobile devices and gadgets that are damaged, lost or stolen in the home.” [38] Bettersafe: Do I Need Gadget Insurance And Home Contents Cover? therefore this research accounts for separate insurance for those items that would leave the home. 

Average smartphone insurance cost comes from the six best cellphone insurance companies monthly price. [39] Investopedia: Best Cellphone Insurance Smartwatch insurance came from Securranty, [22] Securranty: Smart watch protection plans using the mentioned average purchase cost in brand new condition, extended warranty, accidental damage, with payment in full. Tablet insurance comes from Worth Ave. Group, where an average annual premium is provided from their own internal data. [18] Worth Ave. Group: Tablet Insurance

Laptop insurance was taken as a mean average from typical quotes collected by Investopedia, calculated at a monthly rate. [40] Investopedia: Best Laptop Insurance Headphone insurance was taken from Target, [41] Target: 2 Year Headphones & Speakers Protection Plan with Accidents Coverage ($450-$499.99) Allstate with their offered ‘Allstate proection plans’, an average was calculated based on the headphones analyzed. Plans ranged from $0.50 pm to $4.08 pm.


The following accessories were analyzed: screen protector (phone), phone case, portable charger, USB hub/docking station, mouse, computer monitor, tablet case, screen protector (tablet), tablet pen, gaming headset, smart watch strap, and a soundbar for a TV. The accessories costs were applied to each individual tech item’s overall cost. All accessories cost information was sourced from’s, where a mean average cost was taken from the items listed in each of the categories listed. Sales tax was not applied, delivery fees weren’t considered. 

Tech lifespan

The following lifespans were factored for each piece of technology. This will differ in each household based on how much technology is used, how it is looked after, and whether it was bought when it was the latest model. 


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