A study, ‘Mobile Trade-in and Upgrade Industry Trends’, has examined which smartphones are used for trade-in and upgrade programmes.
Consumers earned more than $3bn (roughly £2.2bn) from smartphone trade-ins in 2021, reports the insurance company
Assurant. This is an increase of almost $1bn compared to the previous year.
The devices traded in, and their value, are also interesting. The top five most traded-in devices are all iPhones:
- iPhone XR (2018)
- iPhone 11 (2019)
- iPhone 8 (2017)
- iPhone 8 Plus (2017)
- iPhone X (2017)
One reason for this may be that Apple sells far fewer handsets than the numerous Android manufacturers, which can distort the figures when research companies list bestselling models. It isn’t clear from Assurant’s report how Android handsets as a group – or even all the Android handsets sold by Samsung, for example – compared to the number of trade-ins for iPhones.
But it is nevertheless apparent that trading in an iPhone has another advantage: namely, that it’s significantly more profitable, with iPhones demonstrating an impressive ability to hold a stable value. According to the study, the value of a traded-in iPhone is on average more than twice as high ($199) as that of an Android device ($98).
That’s a wider disparity than in 2020, when the average values were $170 and $95 respectively, a ratio of 1.8 to 1. Although not as wide as in 2019, when iPhones were worth 2.6 times as much as Android handsets: $171 to $67. It’s therefore difficult to assess whether this reflects a wider loss of loyalty to the Android ecosystem, something we
reported on last summer.
Unsurprisingly, the most important quarter for trade-ins is Q4, the period leading up to Christmas. In this period alone, more than $1bn worth of old devices was traded in.
An important factor in the rising sales of traded-in devices could be the global switch to the 5G network. There are now more than 1,200 5G-capable devices, and Apple has been offering 5G since the
iPhone 12 in 2020. You’ll notice that the five iPhones listed above all pre-date Apple’s switch to 5G.
For more advice on trading in, read
How and where to sell your iPhone for the best price.
This article originally appeared on
Macwelt. Translation (using
DeepL) and additional reporting by David Price.