Global refurbished smartphone market records 15% YoY growth in 2021, Apple takes lead

The global secondary smartphone market saw a surge in demand as well as supply in 2021. Even as new smartphone shipments grew 4.5 percent YoY in 2021, refurbished smartphone volumes witnessed a 15 percent YoY growth, according to Counterpoint Research’s Global Refurbished Smartphone Tracker.

With new flagship smartphone prices remaining at the higher end, a larger share of consumers considered buying refurbished models of popular brands like Apple and Samsung.

As sustainability garnered more interest, consumers were exposed to more benefits of choosing a pre-owned device. Customer awareness of refurbished smartphones, certified pre-owned alternatives, quality checks in the secondary markets and warranty options increased during the year.

Refurbished players too have matured since 2018 and are now scaling up for more volumes. Apple remains the secondary smartphone market leader but the dynamics between brands seem to be shifting as well.

Commenting on the growth in pre-owned and refurbished volumes, Senior Analyst Glen Cardoza said, “Refurbished smartphones are a part of overall pre-owned devices which re-enter the system through various routes. Trade-ins are the fastest-growing source for such pre-owned smartphones, the volume of which grew more than 10% globally in 2021. We are seeing a YoY increase in volumes among refurbished players in developing markets like China, India, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.”

Latin America and India saw the most growth

Latin America and India lead with the highest growth rates, at 29 percent and 25 percent respectively. Even the US, China and Europe regions have shown a strong growth in volumes from 2020. India and LATAM markets saw the highest growth rates in 2021 and also have the highest future potential growth over the next few years. There were supply shortages in the secondary market in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns and other supply chain disruptions. But the market roared back in 2021.

“There are large consumer appetites for flagships and the latest flagships have the highest point-of-sale prices in India and LATAM. The secondary market offers consumers the ability to access these devices at ASPs 60% lower than new versions. The improved durability and high quality of flagships make them very appealing in the secondary market,” Research Director Jeff Fieldhack noted.

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Conclusion

The global secondary smartphone market saw a surge in demand as well as supply in 2021. As sustainability garnered more interest, consumers were exposed to more benefits of choosing a pre-owned device. Customer awareness of refurbished smartphones, certified pre-owned alternatives, quality checks in the secondary markets and warranty options increased