Each quarter, we analyze the millions of data points we’ve acquired and filtered regarding the mobile device trade-in market. We examine the most-traded devices, total amount of money returned to U.S. consumers, average value of traded devices and more. This quarter we have added trade-in value of wearables to the mix of data we share.
Some of the data we analyzed, fell along the same trends we have been seeing for quite some time. We first saw the length of times consumers were holding onto their devices go over the 3-year mark in Q1 2019 and the length of time has continued to increase each quarter. This past quarter was no different. The average age is now 3.21 years—a modest yet noticeable jump from last quarter’s 3.13 years. Meanwhile, the average value of a trade-in device has increased as well. Pre-owned iPhones are worth an average of $157.88 (vs. $152.31 last quarter) and Android devices took a large jump to an average of $98.02 per device (vs. $84.20 in Q2).
Trade-in Programs Are Continuing to Accelerate
One of the leading indicators of the strength of trade-ins in the mobile device market is the amount of money returned to consumers. In 3Q, $564M was returned to consumers for trading in their pre-owned devices, an increase of 153% over 2Q. And, in spite of the pandemic and the normal iPhone release in 3Q moving to 4Q, the $564M was only 11% lower than what we saw in 3Q 2019. Two factors led to this stronger quarter.
First - carriers, retailers, and OEMs began to reopen their physical locations, which undoubtedly helped increase sales and upgrades. However, even as brick and mortar stores were opening, online sales were still healthy. We saw a 4.5% increase over Q2 and 170% increase over the same quarter last year.
Second - carriers, retailers, and OEMs have continued to aggressively promote their trade-in programs so as to overcome the headwinds of weak economic conditions. People are often getting more value back from their old phones, and those who wouldn’t otherwise have traded in their phones are being strongly incentivized to do so.
These factors combined to make Q3 2020 a very healthy quarter for consumers.
Introducing Data on the Wearables Secondary Market
HYLA supports trade-in for other categories beyond mobile phones including wearables. We included a spotlight for this growing category in this quarterly report sharing monthly trade-in values as well as provided an expanded view of the last six months for added context.
We looked at trade-in values for all Apple Watches Series 1 through 5 and for each month in Q2 we saw normal depreciation levels. Like smartphones, as a wearable gets older, it depreciates more. However, surprisingly, from June through September, trade-in values rose across all series. In fact, trade-in values were higher in September than they were in April. Normal depreciation did not factor in.
There are usually two reasons why trade-in values would go up and they probably both came into play in this instance. One, trade-in is an effective tool used by carriers, OEMs and retailers to encourage upgrades. During the pandemic, when retail sales were down, trade-in was used to boost revenue, just as we saw for smartphones. What also comes into play for higher trade-in values is the demand for wearables in the secondary market. As wholesale values go up, often times trade-in values follow. Wearables are now commonly sold into the secondary market and the desire for these are increasing.
We were very pleased with the results in this last quarter and are looking forward to the results from the final three months of 2020. With a full portfolio of 5G devices available to consumers, we fully expect to see the start of an upgrade super cycle.
For more information, check out our latest infographic and view the full results today.