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International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates worldwide shipments of used smartphones, including officially refurbished and used smartphones, will reach 282.6 million units in 2022. The unit growth represents an 11.5% increase over the 253.4 million units shipped in 2021. This growth is expected to continue, as IDC forecasts used smartphone shipments will reach 413.3 million units in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.3% from 2021 to 2026.

Trade-in programs continue to be the driving factor for the new and used smartphone market globally. We have witnessed new programs launch successfully across multiple regional markets where trade-in is still a new concept for local consumers. Additionally, in mature markets such as the US, Canada and Western Europe, trade-in continues to play a significant role in speeding up refresh cycles through telco and retail-driven promotions. This has contributed to an increase in trade-in value (TIV), which is typical when demand for new devices is slow. The rise in TIV has pushed prices up in the secondary market due to consumers getting more for their old devices to help drive upgrades. 

The increased sale of higher-priced devices in the new market has also created a circular effect, as many of these aggressive trade-in deals feature primarily on premium devices. How long these aggressive trade-in offers last remains a big question for buyers and sellers. Eventually, narrow margins will impact the overall profits of the channel, the vendor or perhaps both. 

"The used market was able to grow 11.5% in 2022 thanks to the 6.1% rebound we witnessed in the new market for 2021," says Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC. “Used devices demonstrate more resilience to market inhibitors than new smartphone sales as consumer appetite remains elevated in many regions. Attractive price points are critical for growth, as cost savings remain the primary benefit. However, a high-end inventory struggle due to elongated refresh cycles in the new market has used prices growing over 11% in 2022." 

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