Mobile trade-in programmes are key driver in stimulating 5G smartphone upgrades

Mobile device tracker for third quarter of 2021 shows continued year-on-year market growth, with new 5G smartphone launches and trade-in promotions contributing to growth of mobile trade-in and upgrade programmes

US mobile trade-in programmes returned $757m to consumers in the third quarter of 2021, according to the latest quarterly mobile device trade-in and upgrade market analysis from Assurant subsidiary Hyla Mobile.

The Q3 report provides insights into trade-in and upgrade trends in the North American market. Using data from Hyla parent Assurant’s Device IQ analytics platform, as well as industry market data, the report outlines the top smartphones turned in through trade-in and upgrade programmes during the quarter, as well as the average age and value of smartphones at trade-in and upgrade, and trade-in trends for Apple watches.

Assurant’s data showed the significant role that mobile trade-in programmes are playing in supporting the upgrade to 5G. The analyst regards such programmes as good for carriers, retailers, OEMs and cable operators that also benefit commercially from pre-owned devices being given a second or third life, while contributing to their sustainability goals.

“Q3 is typically a strong quarter for mobile trade-ins and upgrades,” said Biju Nair, president, Global Connected Living at Assurant. “This quarter, the launch of the new iPhone 13 and new 5G smartphones from Samsung have played an important role in driving trade-ins – especially thanks to the strong trade-in promotions that have been tied to these device launches.

“Consumers are definitely responding to these popular trade-in promotions to upgrade to 5G devices. The growth in mobile trade-in programmes in Q3 2021 remained healthy, even though research from IDC revealed that North America’s new smartphone shipments were slightly down for the quarter.”

The $757m return, as found in the Q3 Mobile trade-in and upgrade industry trends report, represents a 33% increase from both Q2 this year, as well as from Q3 2020.

As ever, the survey found that iPhones continue to lead the top five devices turned in through trade-in and upgrade programmes. The top devices in Q3 2021 were: iPhone XR, iPhone 8, iPhone 11, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X and iPhone 7. For the third consecutive quarter, the iPhone XR was the top turned-in device and, in the quarter surveyed, it made up 30% of the top five traded devices.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 was the top traded Android device of the quarter, as it has been for the last five quarters.

Online trade-ins continue to grow in popularity, having been accelerated by the pandemic – they have grown by 187% year on year and by 162% compared with Q2 2021.The average trade-in price for devices increased by 10% year on year, with the average trade-in value for an Android device being $108, and for an iPhone $207.

The Q3 survey also revealed very little movement in the average age of devices at trade-in for the last two quarters, with iPhones at 3.39 years and Androids at 3.08 years in the quarter. During the second quarter of 2021, they were at 3.38 and 3.09 years, respectively.

Q2 2021 was the first quarter when the average age of an Android device was over three years, while the average age of an iPhone when turned in was 3.4 years in Q2 2021, fractionally above the previous quarter.

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