5G phones drive almost $1bn returned to customers in Q3

Global business services company’s quarterly assessment of mobile trade-in arena shows that iPhone 11 still dominates as the top traded device but that for the first time more than half of the top five traded models were 5G capable devices.

As the cost-of-living crises bite major economies around the world, getting value out of technology becomes even more important – and smartphones are no exception, with the latest investigation of the US mobile device trade in market by Assurant showing an acceleration in the trading in of recently launched 5G-capable devices.

The global business services company’s Mobile trade-in and upgrade industry trends report for the third quarter of 2023 revealed that $999m was returned to US consumers through mobile trade-in programmes in the three-month period, fuelling the secondary device market for a more affordable or eco-conscious alternative.

While Apple’s iPhone 11 still dominates as the top traded device – as it has for the past six quarters – for the first time more than 50% of the top five traded models were 5G-capable devices.

Among the key industry highlights from the Q3 2023 report were that the average age of devices turned in for trade-in and upgrade programmes remained at just over 3.5 years. The top five traded devices were the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone XR, and iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 11 remained the top device traded for the sixth consecutive quarter, making up 32% of the top five traded devices. The top traded Samsung model was the Galaxy S21.

US consumers received $999m back through trade-in programs, a 3% increase from Q3 2022’s $970m. In the second quarter of the year, Assurant found a total of $872m was returned through trade-in and upgrade programmes, not very different to the first quarter’s $865m.

It also revealed that the average trade-in value of smartphones reached $135 during the second quarter of this year, up from $126 in the first quarter of 2023. 5G-capable devices made up 34% of the value of devices traded-in, a rise from 29% in the previous quarter, while iPhones reached their highest recorded value of $215 during the second quarter of 2023.

Yet while the overall value of device trade-ins fell slightly in Q3 2023, but this, said Assurant, was typical around the introduction of new device generations and in-keeping with 2022 Q3 trends.

“We usually see the value of trade-ins dip slightly at this time of year, coinciding with the annual release of the new generation of Apple i Apple iPhones and Google Pixels. This year is no different, but the astonishing amount of money returned to US consumers through trade-in programmes – just shy of $1bn – demonstrates continued momentum behind the global secondary device market,” said Biju Nair, executive vice-president and president of global connected living and international at Assurant.

“These renewed devices offer a more affordable and sustainable alternative to buying new. We are seeing 5G devices seriously enter the secondary device market, which will lower the point of entry for consumers looking to access next-generation mobile services and applications. And our recently launched Carbon IQ by Assurant also enables our clients to accurately track and report the Carbon Offset impact of their Trade-in programmes.”

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