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, and the average value of traded devices.
Throughout 2019, the trade-in market has showed a steady incline, and the amount of money handed back to consumers continues to grow. During Q3, over $637 million was given back to consumers. This is an increase of nearly 40% from Q2.
iPhone dominated the trade-in market
In Q3, iPhones dominated the top five traded in devices with the iPhone 7 leading the pack as it has each quarter this year. The top four devices are from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 family models. These older models are certainly impacting the metric around the length of time consumers are holding on to their devices. Our data shows the device age of iPhones at trade-in moved from 3.11 years in Q2 to 3.14 years in Q3 and the overall length in time, for all devices, increased from 3.01 years to 3.04 years for those same quarters.
Our data also shows that the iPhone 8 Plus, introduced just two years ago, was the fifth most traded device.If the trend continues, we are likely to see a decrease in the length of time a user has their device before trading in, which will in turn cause the average price of a trade-in to increase.
However, regardless of the trend, trade-in prices are already steadily increasing. In the last few years, we have seen a 10% increase in trade-ins with Androids and a 15% increase in trade-ins with iPhones.
Consumers need more awareness on the value of trade-ins ahead of a big year for 5G
With the industry not seeing the growth in new handset sales as they once did, partially due to the rising cost of smartphones, trade-in becomes a critical tool to stimulate upgrades. We expect this will be the case for the move to 5G devices.
Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg expects a big year for 5G in 2020. In an interview with CNBC, Vestberg stated that he expects half of the U.S. to have access to 5G networks by 2020.
In order to take advantage of these high-speed, low-latency networks, consumers will need a 5G-enabled device. To offset the cost of these new devices OEMS, retailers and carriers need to help their customers recognize the value of their old devices.
By trading in a device that is 12-18 months old while upgrading to the latest 5G-enabled phone, consumers can cut their upgrade cost by 50%, while getting the latest technology.
And for OEMs, retailers and carriers there will be plenty of value in many of these traded-in devices, especially 4G devices, which will still be in high-demand in many parts of the world.