Apple-Dominated Global Refurbished Smartphone Market Grew 13% in 2017: REPORT


The fastest-growing segment in smartphones globally is refurbished high-quality devices that may not be brand-new but carry a desirable brand name and can be sold at an affordable price.

Counterpoint Research announced its latest report from its Refurbished Smartphone Tracker for 2017 and according to the data, the global market for refurbished smartphones grew by 13 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) in 2017, with a total volume of 140 million units.

The research firm notes that, in comparison, the global market for new smartphones grew by only 3 percent YoY in the same time period.

Refurbished smartphones are essentially pre-owned smartphones that are collected, rejuvenated or repaired to be sold again in the market.

“With 13 per cent growth, refurbished smartphones are now close to 10 per cent of the total global smartphone market. The low growth of the new smartphone market in 2017 can be partially attributed to the growth of the refurb market,” Tom Kang, the Research Director at Counterpoint Research, said in a statement.

“The slowdown in innovation has made two-year-old flagship smartphones comparable in design and features with the most recent mid-range phones. The mid low-end market for new smartphones is being cannibalised by refurbished high-end phones, mostly Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones,” Kang added.

The report noted that Apple and Samsung’s dominance is even more obvious in the refurbished market than in the new smartphone market. The two brands together hold close to three-fourths of the refurbished smartphone market, with Apple leading by a significant margin. In terms of revenue, the two smartphone giants control more than 80 percent of revenue in the refurbished smartphone market.

This strength of Apple’s high-end devices allows them to return to the market for a second time, following a previous trend that occurred among luxury carmakers selling their certified pre-owned vehicles directly in competition with new, entry-level economy cars.

The firm’s Research Director Peter Richardson stated, “It’s a surprise to many that the fastest growing smartphone market in 2017 was not India or any other emerging market, but the refurb market. With refurb smartphones in play we think the market for new devices will slow further in 2018.”


  • Arnold Moore

    Any indication which iPhone? I mean it’s hard to tell the last 4 generations apart (6 vs. 6s vs. 7 vs. 8)

  • Why does a phone need a new shape every year? Is it fashion?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I like to call them the 6, 6s, 6ss and 6sss.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Actually, it is!

  • Wouldn’t it be more appropriate and much cheaper for the case to fill that role?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Yes, but then who’s going to buy all the iPhone Xs?

  • I have a theory. iPhone X is actually iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 is actually iPhone 7s. Apparently they pushed development on the 8 to bring FaceID to market faster and for marketing reasons needed to make it sound like the X is a special 10 year anniversary edition so people would still buy the 8. Which is actually the 7s. Would you buy a 7s if 8 came out at the same time? So yes, its all shiny and gets you free drinks at the bar, but if I am correct isn’t this a clever thing they did?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I think it’s even more clever than that – I think the X is the real iPhone 7! Before that it was really the 6, 6s, 6ss and 6sss.

  • I bet if they didn’t number their phones every year like they do with iPads then it wouldn’t matter us much.

  • Samsung and Google so they can take it apart and figure out how to copy it. He he he…

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    True, but I like the system because it exposes them when they stagnate – like the 4 year run on the iPhone 6 style – probably their least estheticly apealing phone and least practical phone design. Too slippery to hold, gouges your hands, camera protrudes so you can’t lie it flat, antenna lines, impossibly expensive to replace glass backs – all the design cues just scream out – cover me with a case since I am ugly and hard to hold!

  • That’s what she said…

  • Ok, I’m back. I had to think of a quick place holder to squeeze in before there was an avalanche of replies.

    I personally don’t get this whole thing about a phone being a fashion statetment. Isn’t what’s on the inside more important? It’s like going on a blind date only to discover that your super helpful match-making buddy played a prank on you. But because you stuck it out you realize that there’s an open bar so all is not yet lost. By the end of the evening she’s not looking so bad anymore. You then drunk dial your buddy and tell him h’cup, “dah laffzz on yooo!” Ok, maybe that analogy doesn’t work.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Well I think that’s the problem – Apple says thin is in, and is more important than battery life or a camera that sticks out and makes the phone wobble when you put it down. If they had just made the phone a bit thicker, they could vastly improve battery life, have the camera flush like reasonable person would expect, maybe left the second port alone etc. And then the resulting phone ends up basically not being thin, but unhealthily anorexic. Apple is the anorexic girl that looks in the mirror and see’s her protruding camera lens, low energy and frail body and thinks, “I should be thinner”

  • Now that Apple is in its 40’s that weight is gonna come back with a vengeance. And you can forget about sexy time!