Worldwide shipments of used smartphones, including officially refurbished and used smartphones, will reach 282.6 million units in 2022, according to International Data Corporation.
The unit growth represents an 11.5% increase over the 253.4 million units shipped in 2021. This growth is expected to continue as IDC forecasts used smartphone shipments will reach 413.3 million units in 2026 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3% from 2021 to 2026.
According to IDC, trade-in programs continue to be the driving factor for the new and used smartphone market globally. The analysis firm says it has witnessed new programs launch successfully across multiple regional markets where trade-in is still a new concept for local consumers.
Additionally, in mature markets such as the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe, trade-in continues to play a significant role in speeding up refresh cycles through telco and retail-driven promotions. This has contributed to an increase in trade-in value (TIV), which is typical when demand for new devices is slow. The rise in TIV has pushed prices up in the secondary market due to consumers getting more for their old devices to help drive upgrades.
The increased sale of higher-priced devices in the new market has also created a circular effect as many of these aggressive trade-in deals feature primarily on premium devices. How long these aggressive trade-in offers last remains a big question for buyers and sellers. Eventually, narrow margins will impact the overall profits of the channel, vendor, or perhaps both.
"The used market was able to grow 11.5% in 2022 thanks to the 6.1% rebound we witnessed in the new market for 2021," says Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
"Used devices demonstrate more resilience to market inhibitors than new smartphone sales as consumer appetite remains elevated in many regions,' he says.
"Attractive price points are critical for growth as cost savings remain the primary benefit. However, a high-end inventory struggle due to elongated refresh cycles in the new market has used prices growing over 11% in 2022."
According to IDC's taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a "hand-me-down" or gained due to a person-to-person sale or trade.
The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2022–2026 (Doc #US49944722), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2026. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.