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Pre-owned device values stay strong amidst coronavirus pandemic

More than half a billion dollars returned to US consumers in Q1 2020 as used and new mobile device markets stabilise after Covid-19 disruption

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the used smartphone market’s mobile device trade-in programmes were growing strongly, giving billions of dollars back to the mobile industry and enterprise procurement departments, and research from HYLA Mobile has shown that this growth persists.

Its data on mobile device trade-in trends for the first quarter of 2020 has found that, despite what it said was a quarter like no other with the coronavirus pandemic causing significant disruption to the supply and distribution of new and pre-owned devices, the outbreak has not had much impact on pre-owned device values.

HYLA Mobile noted that as Covid-19 spread aggressively from the start of the year, emanating from China, a country that manufactures 70% of the world’s smartphones, its analytics platform reported fluctuations in pre-owned device prices.

As refurbishment facilities closed and the supply of these devices stalled, demand for pre-owned devices in good working order and condition increased, which subsequently resulted in an increase in the prices of these devices.

HYLA said that as factories and repair facilities gradually reopen, the secondary market is starting to normalise, and the value of pre-owned devices remains strong.

In fact, according to its data, pre-owned smartphones have held their value since the end of last year and have returned $535,785,783 to US consumers through mobile device trade-ins in Q1 2020 – an increase of 1.5% from Q1 2019.

When considering all smartphones traded in across the quarter, the average value of a device at trade-in was $102.25. The average value of an Android smartphone at trade-in was $66.82, while the average value of an iPhone was $171.11. The iPhone 11 Pro Max received the highest trade-in value during the quarter at $560.97, while the highest trade-in value recorded for the same device in Q4 2019 was $560.55. The highest trade-in value recorded for Samsung was the Galaxy Fold at $550.86.

The average age of a smartphone at trade-in remained around three years – 3.07 years for Q1 2020. The average age of an iPhone at trade-in was 3.17 years, up from 3.11 years in Q4 2019, while the average age of an Android smartphone at trade-in was 2.77 years, up from 2.67 years in Q4 2019.

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The top traded device in Q1 2020 was the iPhone 7, followed by the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 6S and iPhone 8. The top five traded devices accounted for nearly 60% of smartphones traded. This mean the iPhone 7 continued to be the top traded device for a fifth consecutive quarter, while variations of the iPhone 6 have now featured in the top five traded devices since the first quarter of 2016. The Samsung S7 was the most traded Samsung device.

The LG G8X ThinQ had the dubious honour of being the device from leading vendors that lost most of its value in trade-in – 65% – followed by the One Plus 5 and 5T (both 29%), LG G50 ThinQ (25%) and Google Pixel 2 (24%).

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected how we interact and has created economic uncertainty across every industry, including the telecoms industry,” said Biju Nair, president and CEO of HYLA. “During this time, smartphones have played an incredibly important role in our lives, keeping us close while we must remain physically distant.

“And the importance of these devices has been reflected in our trade-in data for the quarter, with demand for affordable refurbished smartphones sustaining strong values across the secondary device market. The revenue streams emanating from equipment sales and associated device trade-in programmes remain significant for operators, OEMs and retailers, helping them drive revenue and bring additional value to their customers, while the mobile industry tries to recover from this unprecedented and devastating pandemic.”

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