Each quarter, we analyze the millions of data points we’ve acquired and filtered from the mobile device trade-in market. Our research examines data about the most-traded devices, the devices with the highest trade-in values, the total amount of money returned to consumers in the United States, the average value of traded devices, and more.
If there’s one thing that has remained consistent over the years we’ve been running these reports, it’s the continuous expansion of the secondary market. And even during expected seasonal lulls in the trade-in market, we still see year-over-year growth that will sustain the mobile device ecosystem over the long term.
Preparing for the Best Time of Year for Trade-Ins
Though the mobile device market changes rapidly, we can spot similar patterns in the secondary market year after year. The second half of the year is where the most activity occurs. Launches of new devices take center stage in Q3 and we see a spike in the market as consumers clamor to get the latest devices. Growth continues into Q4 as holiday shopping is in full swing.
Q1 is not quite as active as the last two quarters of the year but does benefit from some spillover from the holiday season and often times from releases of new phones from the likes of Samsung.
That leaves Q2, which is often less active due to the lead up to the second half spike.
In Q2 2019, we saw $456 million returned to U.S. consumers through trade-in and buyback programs. Though it’s the slowest quarter, the good news is that was a 10% growth over what was returned to consumers in Q2 2018.
Trade-In Devices Are Getting Older
Just as we continuously see growth in the secondary market, we also see that consumers are holding onto their devices longer and longer.
Last quarter was the first time the average age of an iPhone trade-in eclipsed 3 years (3.03). This quarter, that number has increased again to 3.11 years old. And in the bigger picture, the average age of all trade-in devices surpassed 3 years for the first time ever (3.01).
Holding onto a mobile device for so long can lead to diminished trade-in value. But this puts carriers, retailers and OEMs in a unique position to design trade-in promotions that will increase upgrades, reduce churn, and maximize customer satisfaction.
Keeping Ahead of the Mobile Trade-In Industry
The secondary market for mobile devices is on a maturity path that will result in a $52.7 billion valuation by 2022. Every quarter that we see continued maturation is validation for this market prediction.
But as great as it is to track continued secondary market maturity, it’s important for carriers, retailers and OEMs to stay ahead of the ups and downs. Being able to properly time trade-in promotions and align operations with secondary market trends will ultimately lead to business results. And that’s the value of these quarterly trade-in market analyses.
If you want to learn more about the Q2 2019 data as you prepare for the second half of the year spike in activity, check out the latest quarterly trade-in data infographic for the full results.