As Apple prepares to launch the iPhone 13 (probably this month or October), many phone users will be looking forward to upgrading to the newest tech. However, those who are looking to get their hands on the new model need to be aware of the best time to trade in their old device to get the highest return.
The value of older iPhones is set to plummet by an estimated 20% in the coming weeks, according to Decluttr’s latest Phone Depreciation Report. (You should note that Decluttr is a company for selling old tech for cash.)
In a 16-month period, the average phone will decrease in value by US$73, according to the report. When a new iPhone is released, on average Decluttr sees the value of its predecessors drop by 10% in the first month alone, and by a total of 20% after three months.
If the iPhone 12 Pro drops 20% in value as predicted in the following three months of the new iPhone’s release, the owners of this iPhone will lose out on around $168 from trading in later.
Apple mobile phones are best for retaining their value
That said, as in previous years, Apple holds the top spot for the brand that retains the most value, with iPhones losing an average of 49% of their value in the first 12 months and 66% by the end of a standard 24 month contract period. Samsung comes in second place, with its mobile phones depreciating by an average of 65% after 12 months and 79% after 24 months.
Unfortunately for Google owners, Decluttr says their devices don’t fare quite as well, dropping in value by 80% in the 24 months after launch.
Of all the 5G mobile phones released from 2019 onwards, the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro managed to retain their value best in the six months after release. They dropped by 23% and 24%, respectively. Samsung’s first 5G-enabled phone release, the Samsung 10 GG, lost 70% of its value in the first six months.
Motivators for upgrades
The survey conducted by Decluttr reveals that the top reason for getting a new phone is due to having a damaged phone (36%), followed by being eligible for an upgrade (33%) or a new phone coming out (19%).
The data also shows that the release of new models plays a big part in driving upgrades. Twenty-one percent of iPhone users stated they will be upgrading to the new iPhone 13 as soon as it is launched.
Of those who plan to upgrade to the iPhone 13, 45% are upgrading to gain the use of 5G speed, while improved battery life (40%) and a better camera (41%) follow closely behind when it comes to reasons for upgrading.
The e-waste problem
Nearly 1-in-3 Americans indicate that they don’t trade in old phones at the time of upgrade, with about a third going so far as to say they never trade in an old device.
Young phone owners are most inclined to trade-in their devices as soon as a new phone is purchased, while older generations are reluctant to ever trade in a phone, according to the Decluttr report. Among phone owners, Apple users are most inclined to trade in an old device when upgrading to a new one – perhaps due to knowledge of their retained value.
Based on the environmental benefits of trading in a device, most would be willing to trade in their mobile device (77%), recycle their mobile device (75%) or buy a secondhand/refurbished mobile device (54%).
“E-waste poses a huge threat to the environment,” Oliver said. “We can all do our bit to reduce e-waste by responsibly recycling and reselling unused phones and other tech products we no longer use — keeping them in a circular economy.”
To create the Annual Phone Depreciation Report, Declutter used its own trade-in data to look at the trade-in values of the most popular mobile phones from Apple, Samsung and Google phones for 36 months from their launch date. The data was based on Decluttr’s “good” trade in prices on unlocked phones.
The estimated drop in value of iPhones after a new model is released was calculated using the average drop in value of the new model’s predecessors after new releases from 2018 and onwards.
The consumer research was commissioned by Decluttr, through RepData in a nationally representative survey of 2,000 US adults, who are also mobile phone users, in July 2021.
The lifetime loss value of mobile devices was calculated using the average length of phone ownership (22 months), the average length of time people wait prior to trading in an old device (10 months) and the average value of phones at the respective months following a device’s launch.
Decluttr analyzed the depreciation of Apple, Samsung and Google mobile phones The company holds data on to calculate the average loss in value each month after their launch. These three brands were used due to their combined US mobile phone market share accounting for over 80% of the total market.
Declutter says the difference between the two average values represents the average lost value of waiting to trade-in a device. This figure was then multiplied by the number of average upgrades over an average U.S. lifespan, less the first ten years of age.