Counterpoint: Apple dominates the refurbished smartphone market

According to the latest research from Counterpoint Research’s Refurbished Smartphone tracker, the global market for refurbished smartphones grew 13% year-over-year in 2017, reaching close to 140 million units. This was in contrast with the global new smartphone market that grew a 3% last year, thus being outpaced by refurbished “second life” smartphones.

  Photo courtesy of Counterpoint Research

Photo courtesy of Counterpoint Research

Refurbished smartphones are pre-owned smartphones that are collected, rejuvenated or repaired to be sold again in the market. Only 25% of all pre-owned phones are sold back into the market. Counterpoint says that Apple and Samsung’s dominance is more obvious in the refurb market than in the new smartphone market. 

The two brands combined hold close to three-fourths of the refurbished smartphone market, with Apple leading by a significant margin. In terms of revenue, the dominance grows further, as the two smartphone giants control more than 80% of the revenue in the refurbished smartphone market.

“With 13% growth, refurbished smartphones are now close to 10% of the total global smartphone market,” says Counterpoint Research Director Tom Kang. “The low growth of the new smartphone market in 2017 can be partially attributed to the growth of the refurb market. The slowdown in innovation has made two-year-old flagship smartphones comparable in design and features with the most recent mid-range phones. Therefore, the mid low-end market for new smartphones is being cannibalized by refurbished high-end phones, mostly Apple iPhones and, to a lesser extent, Samsung Galaxy smartphones.”