Analysis agency TrendForce has published a report on the state of the secondary market for smartphones. According to the report, the pandemic and the increase in the average smartphone lifecycle from 36 to 42 months are having a negative impact on new smartphone sales. The used smartphone market continues to grow while new smartphone sales are declining.
According to the available data, used smartphones accounted for 11% of total sales in 2022, i.e. around 167 million devices. China is the largest market for used smartphones, followed by Europe. It is noteworthy that in 2026 China could lose its position to India, since this country with its huge population is actively developing, and conventional button models in developing countries are massively switched to entry-level smartphones.
In terms of brand sales, Apple is the absolute leader in the secondary market, in 2022 its models accounted for 45-50% of sales, Samsung took second place with a share of 25-30%. Other brands occupy the remaining relatively small segment.
The growth of the used smartphone market in recent years is due to both increased demand in developing countries and the challenge of introducing significant software and hardware innovations into new products. This leads to the fact that buyers are not in a hurry to buy new equipment. Brands and trading networks have been known to offer trade-in programs where old smartphones can be traded in for new ones for an additional payment. At the same time, old models are not discarded, but also enter the market, and the rather high marginality of used items has led to their active trading on popular marketplaces.
The fact that modern smartphones actually have excessive performance plays an important role here. Other factors also play an important role, such as the desire of Android smartphone vendors to increase the RAM and persistent storage of new models for marketing purposes. This allows smartphones to remain in circulation on the secondary market for a long time. In addition, modern smartphone cameras are of such high quality that they can compete with some entry-level cameras. Other technical parameters are also important, thanks to which used modern smartphones will remain relevant for a long time.
It is also known that large accumulated stocks of displays and memory modules have a significant impact on the average price of these items – thanks to this, repairing failed devices is quite profitable. It is known that the fall in prices also led to an increase in the amount of permanent and RAM in new smartphones. This has extended the life cycle of gadgets even further, giving an additional boost to the used smartphone market. All these factors influence the development of the so-called circular economy in the smartphone industry and lead to an expansion of the market for supported devices. This situation has existed for a long time – it was also evident at the end of 2021 that the market for used gadgets had grown significantly.