According to new data from Counterpoint Research, Apple is experiencing significant growth in its refurbished iPhone business. The tech giant’s sales in this market reportedly grew by 16% in 2022, increasing its share of the “secondary” smartphone market to almost 50%.
Counterpoint Research analysts state that this makes Apple the “fastest-growing brand” in the used and refurbished smartphone markets globally. While this growth decreases demand for new iPhone sales, it increases demand for various subscription services.
In terms of brands, Apple’s global volumes grew by 16% year over year (YoY) in 2022, bringing its secondary market share to over 49%. This growth means that Apple now dominates the used and refurbished sectors worldwide, with Samsung seeing its share fall from 28% to 26%, while Huawei fell from 4% to 2%. Other smartphone makers remained flat, including Oppo and Vivo.
Counterpoint researchers state that there are three primary sources of refurbished smartphone demand: new smartphone buyers in mature markets, feature phone users shifting to smartphones in emerging markets, and unofficial channels dependent on C2C or hand-me-downs.
Additionally, refurbished smartphone supply is coming from three sources: refurbished smartphone retailers (experiencing the most growth), carriers that have started offering refurbished options but mainly in mature markets, and original equipment manufacturers that are struggling to collect and resell refurbished smartphones.
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Apple sells refurbished iPhones directly via its online store, though supply and availability can vary significantly. For example, Apple’s “Certified Refurbished” store only has iPhone 12 Pro Max units. However, retailers like Amazon have a large refurbished iPhone business and usually sell devices at much lower prices than Apple itself.
As more consumers prioritize sustainability and affordability, the refurbished smartphone market is expected to grow. For Apple, this means that the company will have to balance its efforts to sell new iPhones with its efforts to meet the demand for refurbished devices and associated services.