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Mobile trade-ins return more than half a billion dollars to US consumers in Q2

Second-quarter 2021 edition of mobile device tracker shows more than 150% year-on-year growth, with mobile device trade-in programmes back to pre-pandemic levels

The latest quarterly HYLA Mobile trade-in and upgrade research has revealed not only that the secondary device market is continuing its lucrative path, but also claims a return to pre-pandemic levels.

The Q2 report, which provides insights into trade-in and upgrade trends in the North American market, outlines the top smartphones turned in, the average age and value of smartphones at trade-in and upgrade, as well as trade-in trends for Apple watches from the quarter. The report is based on data from HYLA parent Assurant’s Device IQ analytics platform, as well as industry market data.

The top-line findings from the Q2 Mobile trade-in and upgrade industry trends report revealed that mobile trade-in programmes in the US returned $571m to consumers, a 152% increase on the value of the market in Q2 2020. And in what the report said was a clear indication of how the market has rebounded since the pandemic first broke in the US at the beginning of 2020, there was a 25% increase on Q2 2019. The average trade-in value of all smartphones in the quarter was $137, inching up $3 from Q1 2021.

The study also revealed that in the second quarter, the leading five devices received through trade-in and upgrade programmes in Q2 were the iPhone XR, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 11 and iPhone X. For the second quarter in a row, the iPhone XR was the most popular device turned in and made up 28% of the top five devices, while Q2 was the first quarter that the iPhone 11 has made the top five devices.

The iPhone 11 was released less than two years ago, in September 2019, but has in effect been overshadowed by many consumers waiting for the 5G-compatible iPhone 12, the launch of which was delayed by the effect of Covid-19 at Apple’s manufacturing facilities in China. The average trade-in value of iPhones increased by $5 quarter-on-quarter to $197.

For the fourth quarter in a row, the Samsung Galaxy S9 was the most popular Android device received through trade-in and upgrade programmes. The average Android smartphone traded in at $97, virtually same as the first quarter of 2021.

HYLA noted that Q2 2021 was the first quarter when the average age of an Android device was over three years, specifically 3.1 years, compared with 2.8 years in the first quarter of the year. By contrast, the average age of an iPhone when turned in was 3.4 years, fractionally above the previous quarter. The average age of all smartphones phones brought in was 3.3 years, one-tenth of a year more than in the first quarter.

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Assessing the trends, HYLA said new device sales continued to benefit from strong trade-in and upgrade programmes and that with more consumers wanting the latest 5G devices, it expected to see such programmes continue on an upward growth trajectory as carriers, retailers, OEMs and cable operators continue to run promotions to encourage consumers to upgrade and make the move to 5G more affordable.

It also observed that the value of secondary devices was not only holding, but increasing even as the average device age grows, and that online trade-ins were up 20% on the same quarter last year.

“Not surprisingly, last year during the pandemic we saw more than a threefold increase in online trade-ins when compared to the same period in the previous year,” said Biju Nair, president of global connected living at Assurant. “Though more US retail stores are open now, consumers are enjoying the freedom to not only buy their new device online, but also complete their trade-in without going into a store.

“We expect consumers to continue to take advantage of the flexibility of options to conduct a trade-in whether it is online, in a store, or starting in one channel and completing in another.”

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