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Smartphone trade-in value rises as average age of devices breaks 3.5-year threshold

Analysis of mobile trade-ins reveals increasing handset longevity and rising value of used devices, with US$767m returned to US buyers in the second quarter

Despite Apple’s launch of the iPhone 14 this month, which analysts see as providing a much-needed spur to a global smartphone market currently in the doldrums, the prevailing trend is for mobile users to hold on to their devices for longer.

The latest quarterly Mobile trade-in and upgrade industry trends report from Assurant revealed that consumers are holding on to their smartphones for longer, with the average age of handsets turned in through trade-in and upgrade programmes crossing the 3.5-year mark for the first time.

Overall, the report – which outlines the top smartphones turned in through trade-in and upgrade programmes during the second quarter of 2022, the average age and value of smartphones at trade-in and upgrade, along with trade-in trends for Apple watches – found that $767m was returned to US consumers in the second quarter through mobile device trade-in programmes, representing a 34% increase from the same quarter last year, even as consumers hold on to their devices for longer.

The average trade-in value for all devices has seen an increase, rising from $123 in the first quarter of 2022 to $137 in the second quarter of 2022. Online trades also saw an increase of 63% in the past quarter, compared with the same quarter last year.

In addition to the average age of devices reaching a landmark, for the first time, the iPhone 11 was the number one turned in device, making up 35% of the top five devices received from trade-in and upgrade programmes. This was closely followed by the iPhone XR which had occupied the top spot for the previous five quarters.

For wearables, the Apple Watch Series 7 continued to have the highest trade-in value at $186, this was followed by the Apple Watch Series 6 at $123.

The study also showed that the average age of iPhones turned in through trade-in and upgrade programme has risen to 3.51 years, while the average age for Android models is now 3.62 years. The Galaxy S9 remained the top Android device turned in since the first quarter of 2020.

“Global demand for pre-owned devices in the secondary market continues to grow, reflected by the rise in trade-in value. Though consumers are holding onto their devices for longer, we are seeing increasingly more consumers trading in their devices,” said Biju Nair, executive vice-president for global connected living and international at Assurant.

“Our year-over-year global mobile devices serviced volumes, which includes trade-in activity, increased 18% driven by strong promotions from carriers. Typically, we see an uptick in trade-in activity in the third and fourth quarters as a result of OEMs, wireless providers, retailers and cable operators offering enticing incentives resulting from new device launches. These offers enable providers to recoup promotion costs while extending the life of used devices, supporting sustainable practices – a win-win opportunity for the entire ecosystem.”

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