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Global boom in used
smartphone sales

The worldwide market for used smartphones Is forecast to pass 430-million units, with a market value of $109.7-billion, in 2027.

International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates worldwide shipments of used smartphones, including officially refurbished and used smartphones, will reach 309.4-million units in 2023. The unit growth represents a 9.5% increase over the 282.6-million units shipped in 2022. In addition, IDC projects that used smartphone shipments will reach 431.1-million units in 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8% from 2022 to 2027.

Supply of used smartphones remains a critical challenge as refresh cycles, high price points, and macroeconomic challenges have all negatively impacted the new smartphone market. However, demand for used smartphones remains healthy and will continue to grow throughout the forecast period, just at a slower rate than previously forecast, thanks to the challenge of acquiring inventory.

IDC forecast new smartphone shipments to decline 3.5% in 2023 as demand, inflation, and political unrest continue to impact the global economy. In contrast, the used market demonstrated fierce resilience to overcome these unforeseen circumstances by displaying nearly 10% growth for the year. Refresh rates for new phones in most developed markets have extended past 40 months, which has caused a shortage of available inventory for the secondary market. Trade-in programs continue to fuel the industry but only make up a portion of the total used inventory.

Although the secondary market growth looks impressive compared to the new market, which continues to struggle, growth rates are slowing from our previous forecast. Moreover, the lack of inventory has also impacted each region’s total available market (TAM) for used devices. The total secondary market has been pulled down around 2.7% as longer refresh rates and weak consumer spending continue to dampen both the new and used markets.

“Despite the near 10% growth, the secondary market is showing signs of slowdown due to a genuine lack of inventory,” says Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “With refresh rates extending in most mature markets, acquiring inventory remains the biggest challenge for resellers. Secondary phone retailers are hungry for inventory as the high end of the market continues to be scarce due to customers just holding on to their devices. This lengthening can also be witnessed in the new market where shipments declined 3.5% for 2023.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)
Region2023Shipments*2023 MarketShare*2027Shipments*2027 MarketShare*2022-2027CAGR*
North America81.826.4%107.124.8%7.8%
Rest of World227.673.6%324.075.2%9.2%
Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027, Dec 2023.
Worldwide Used Smartphone Revenues ($M)
Region2023Revenue*2023 RevenueShare*2027Revenue*2027 RevenueShare*2022-2027CAGR*
North America$26,65341.2%44,33940.4%10.7%
Rest of World227.658.8%65,32759.6%11.4%
Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027, Dec 2023.

Table Notes:

* Forecast projections (4Q23-4Q27)
Data is subject to change.

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand-me-down” or gained due to a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027(Doc #US51463823), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2027. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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