International Data Corporation expects that worldwide shipments of used smartphones reached a total of 225.4 million units in 2020. This represented an increase of 9.2% over the 206.5 million units shipped in 2019. IDC projects used smartphone shipments will reach 351.6 million units in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% from 2019 to 2024.
Much of the 9.2% growth was driven by mature markets in which trade-in emulates a form of subsidy to push consumers to upgrade. Over the past year, IDC has seen rapid growth in trade-in programs and average selling prices (ASPs) across numerous channels. Premium flagship offerings continue to rely heavily on trade-in programs to make upfront costs more affordable to consumers. Vendors such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei have all implemented their own programs with very aggressive trade-in offers compared with other channels. Telcos on the other hand are using trade-in combined with bundling (family plans and services) to get consumers to turn over their old devices and upgrade. Although 2020 volume was not as large as expected, the used market still performed well compared with the new market, for which IDC is expecting a 6.4% decline for smartphones for the year. As with IDC’s previous forecast, it still expects to see double digit growth during the forecast period, with an average of 11.8%.
“In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe,” Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker, said. “Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets where they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services and accessories.”
|Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)|
|Region||2020 Shipments||2020 Market Share||2024 Shipments*||2024 Market Share*||2019-2024 CAGR*|
|Rest of World||170.4||75.6%||256.7||73.0%||10.1%|
|Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2020–2024, Dec. 2020.|
Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.
“Although the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges for secondary market participants around able-bodied workers and logistics, most of the industry has been able to satisfy demand for refurbished smartphones. Once the pandemic begins to fade, those that were able to invest in technology will be well-poised to prosper during the recovery,” Will Stofega, program director of mobile phones for IDC, said.
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 as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.