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Q1 2022 mobile device trade-in programmes see $784m returned to US consumers

A study from Assurant shows continued growing uptake of 5G devices and highlights role mobile trade-ins and upgrade programmes play in promoting a circular economy

The mobile industry is seeing continued acceptance and indeed uptake of 5G devices, but it is also witnessing the growing collective consciousness towards the environment and the importance of extending the life of or recycling devices, as indicated in research from Assurant.

The global business services company’s Q1 2022 Mobile trade-in and upgrade industry trends report used data from its own Device IQ analytics platform, as well as industry market data.

The report identified the top smartphones and wearables turned in through trade-in and upgrade programmes during the quarter, as well as the average age and value of devices traded in. In addition to the monetary value, Assurant noted that upgrade programmes facilitated tremendous environmental value in keeping devices out of landfill and giving them a second life.

Higher trade-in volumes resulted in a 17% year-on-year increase in the money returned to US consumers through trade-in programmes, totalling $784m in the first quarter. In its previous report, Assurant showed $1.1bn was returned to US consumers via trade-in and upgrade programmes in the fourth quarter of 2021, a 40% increase from the third quarter that year.

The average trade-in value for all devices dipped slightly in the first quarter of 2022 to $123, compared with $136 in the fourth quarter of 2021. For the fifth consecutive quarter, the iPhone XR was the most turned in device, making up nearly 33% of the top five devices received by trade-in and upgrade programmes. This was closely followed by the iPhone 11, which made up 31% of the top five.

The Galaxy S9 remained the top turned in Android device for the seventh consecutive quarter. The study also noted that Android devices have seen a significant increase in the average age of those turned in, rising from 2.97 years in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 3.29 years in the latest quarter. In contrast, there hasn’t been a major shift in the average age of iPhones, with devices averaging 3.35 years in the fourth quarter of 2021 and 3.39 years in the latest quarter.

“A number of factors continue to prompt consumers to take advantage of trade-in and upgrade programmes when purchasing their next device,” said Biju Nair, president of Assurant’s Global Connected Living business unit. “There’s certainly the appeal of 5G devices and the enticing promotions being offered across the ecosystem, but also the growing collective consciousness towards our environment and the importance of extending the life of or recycling devices.”

He added: “Beyond putting 5G devices within reach for more consumers, trade-in programmes also improve accessibility to affordable, smart devices through the secondary markets, as devices are given second or third lives. This plays a significant role in bridging global digital divides and promotes digital transformation around the world.”

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