Why used smartphones are outselling new models

The smartphone market faced its darkest hour with the worst-ever shipment decline last year. By contrast, used smartphones are now outpacing new models and leading the charge in the industry. But is there a deeper reason for this shift? Is it simply a matter of saving money, or is it indicative of a more significant societal change?

The International Data Corporation (IDC) recently reported that new smartphone shipments had plummeted 11.3% to 1.21 billion units. By contrast, the global demand for used smartphones is booming, with worldwide shipments surging by 11.5%, and analysts are predicting a rise to 413.3 million units by 2026.

With economic uncertainty and rising prices eating into our budgets, many are beginning to explore how they can reduce tech costs. A quick look at most bank statements will reveal TV streaming services and music subscriptions. However, the biggest expense for many will be the $1,000+ smartphone in their pocket. As a result, many consumers are beginning to question whether the latest model of a smartphone is a luxury or a necessity.


Used smartphones are sold at lower prices than new models, making them more accessible to cash-strapped consumers. This is because once a new smartphone model is released, the value of older models tends to fall very quickly. This decrease in value is due to several reasons, such as technological advancements, increased competition, and consumer demand for the latest devices.

This phenomenon of rapid depreciation means that used smartphones often retain a large portion of their original value. There also seems to be a change in attitudes from manufacturers regarding security updates after Apple recently showed love for older iPhones with a zero-day patch. Collectively, these changes are helping tech-savvy users to take a peek behind the curtain and see beyond the hype of a slightly better camera and battery.

For many consumers, buying a used smartphone is a more intelligent financial decision. Not only do they save money on the purchase price. But they can also save on other costs associated with owning a new smartphone, such as insurance and warranties. In addition, many used smartphones are refurbished and have undergone quality checks, meaning they can be just as reliable as a brand-new device but at a fraction of the cost.

The rise of the circular economy and sustainable choices

Socially conscious consumers are rejecting the throwaway society once promoted by big tech. Instead, many purchase a used smartphone to reduce their carbon footprint while contributing to a more sustainable future. As a result of this shift in behaviors, the circular economy for used smartphones is now worth more than $13 billion.

There is an increased awareness that the fast-paced technological advancements and consumer demand for the latest must-have devices are responsible for the increasing electronic waste. But the used smartphone market provides a more sustainable and eco-friendlier alternative. By buying a used smartphone, consumers are choosing to help reduce the amount of electronic waste generated while supporting a more sustainable future.

Many are increasingly uncomfortable about how their reliance on and obsession with smartphones is ruining their memory. There is also an increasing awareness that producing new smartphones requires using valuable resources, such as rare minerals. But buying a used smartphone can result in a significant reduction in the carbon footprint associated with device ownership.

In addition to being more sustainable, used smartphones are often refurbished and have undergone quality checks. This means they can be just as reliable as brand-new devices. As a result, consumers can enjoy the benefits of smartphone ownership without contributing to the problem of electronic waste.


Many consumers choose to purchase used devices to save money. For example, a brand-new high-end smartphone can cost more than $1,000. But its value can drop by 50% or more within a year of its release. On the other hand, a used smartphone that is a few years old can be purchased for a much lower price and still offer a good user experience. This makes used smartphones an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers looking for a cost-effective way to own a smartphone.

The availability of used smartphones has also increased. Many retailers and online marketplaces are now offering a wide selection of devices, making it easier for consumers to find the device they need. Whether you are looking to save money, reduce your carbon footprint, or support a more sustainable future, used smartphones offer a compelling option for anyone looking for a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to buying new devices. It may be time to step off the hamster wheel of tech.

Our newsfeeds are bombarded daily with purposely leaked information to hype the next bigger and better smartphone. Predictably, everyone is promised a bionic processor, better camera, and battery. Finally, a keynote will attempt to seal the deal with the opening words, "say hello to the future." Then, several weeks later, you discover that your shiny new phone is the same as the last one, and you are hit with the dreaded Emperor's New Clothes moment.

By contrast, used smartphones offer something different for those that dare to look beyond the smoke and mirrors of new tech releases. Of course, there are many motivations to change, such as cost savings, eco-friendliness, and support for the circular economy. For these reasons alone, it should be no surprise to learn why it's becoming an attractive alternative. But will you be able to skip the shiny allure of the next $1,000+ smartphone?

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