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Refurb market goes through the roof as consumers still shun expensive upgrades

Paul Lipscombe
February 12, 2019

Market predicted to be worth £23 billion globally, says Counterpoint Research 

The refurbished handset market is growing as consumers become more price-sensitive to new smartphones.

That is the view of those within the industry, with the refurbished segment anticipated to be worth £22.95 billion globally, according to Counterpoint Research.

Last year, between 2.2 and 2.4 million units were sold in the UK, making up nearly 10 per cent of the overall smartphone market.

Higher handset costs have been earmarked as a key factor in why more consumers and businesses are buying refurbished or pre-owned handsets.

iSmash founder Julian Shovlin said: “There has been a shift towards buying SIM-free. Refurbished handsets tend to be much cheaper, and this has been a key reason for the increase in consideration.”

A lack of innovation has contributed to consumers hesitating over buying expensive brand new handsets, says iOutlet director Matt Green.

“The cost of the latest handsets has risen considerably, especially iPhones,” said Green. “People haven’t been as impressed with the latest flagships and aren’t seeing the value in spending the higher prices for them.”

He added that people are becoming more aware about decoupling the handset and tariff.

“Customers can get such a substantial reduction on handsets and not have to twin it with airtime through contracts,” said Green.

Phoenix Cellular director and co-founder Paul Walters agrees: “It feels like the average consumer is waking up to the fact they can split their contracts and be more flexible with airtime contracts. The overall package of a used phone works out more cost-effective for them.”


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