Each quarter, we analyze millions of data points about the mobile device trade-in market. Our research uncovers insights into 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.
Over the years we’ve been conducting this research, one trend has been the most promising—even as we saw seasonal ups and downs, the secondary market has shown consistent growth.
And though the world experienced extreme hardship through Q2 2020, the secondary market continues to hold strong.
Average Trade-In Values Point to a Strong Secondary Market
One way we gauge the strength of the secondary market for mobile devices is by looking at how average trade-in values change quarter-over-quarter.
The reason this works so well is because we continue to see that consumers are trading increasingly older devices. When we looked at data from Q2 2019, the average age of a trade-in device was just over three years (3.01). In Q2 2020, the average age of used devices was 3.13 years.
When we see that average trade-in values increase alongside the average age of used devices, we know that the secondary market is trending upward. That’s what we have in this quarter’s data.
In Q2 2020, the average trade-in value for mobile devices was $111 (with the average iPhone trade-in value at $152.31 and Android smartphones at $84.50). Despite external forces hurting all kinds of markets, this was an increase compared to Q1 2020 when the average trade-in was worth $102.
The fact that pre-owned devices are holding their value despite troubling economic forces is a good sign that the secondary market is still growing.
The Evolution of Trade-In and Buyback Programs
In the past, mobile device trade-ins happened almost exclusively at the point of sale. And while the point of sale is still generally a crucial part of any trade-in process, that aspect of carrier, retailer, and OEM operations didn’t exist in Q2 2020.
With many physical locations closed for a great deal of the quarter, we were interested in seeing how the secondary market would be affected. Despite the lack of physical point of sale interactions, trade-in and buyback programs still returned $226 million to consumers.
Our data showed that online device trade-ins increased 66% over the same period last year and 172% over Q1 of this year. From on-device condition assessment to omnichannel device collection options, the industry has continued to adapt to evolving consumer expectations by taking the trade-in process digital.
The ability to sustain secondary market supply and demand despite the unusual circumstances of Q2 2020 only proves that this industry has matured significantly over the years we’ve been tracking it.
Staying Ahead of the Mobile Trade-In Industry
Last year when we ran the Q2 data for mobile trade-ins, we mentioned that the secondary market is expected to reach a $52.7 billion valuation by 2022.
Despite the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, the trade-in data from Q2 2020 shows that the secondary market can withstand challenges and hopefully remain on the path to that valuation.
The more carriers, retailers, and OEMs digitize their trade-in programs, the easier it will be to withstand external market forces that impact revenue streams from pre-owned devices. Even with limited time to adapt programs in Q2 2020, the secondary market held strong. Moving into Q3, when trade-in promotions usually emerge to push new device rollouts, it will be interesting to see how the secondary market performs.
If you want to learn more about the Q2 2020 data, check out the latest quarterly trade-in data infographic and view the full results.