Worldwide shipments of used smartphones, including officially refurbished and used smartphones, rose to 309.4 million units in 2023, according to a new report from International Data Corp. This represented a 9.5% rise from the 282.6 million units shipped in 2022, but could have been even higher if more used smartphones had been available.
The supply of used smartphones is constrained, the research firm said, citing the challenges of refresh cycles, high price points and macroeconomic factors that impact the market.
“Despite the near 10% growth, the secondary market is showing signs of slowdown due to a genuine lack of inventory,” Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a prepared statement.
“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 onto their devices. This lengthening can also be witnessed in the new market where shipments declined 3.5% for 2023.”
IDC noted that 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.
Yet IDC said that demand for used smartphones remains healthy and will continue to grow throughout the forecast period, just at a slower rate than previously forecast, due to the challenge of acquiring inventory.
The research firm forecasts that used smartphone shipments will reach 431.1 million units in 2027, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8% from 2022 to 2027.
Just over a quarter of used smartphone shipments (26.4%) were for North America in 2023. IDC expects North America’s percentage of total used smartphone shipments to decline slightly, to 24.8%, by 2027.
Whether new or used, people rely on their smartphones, and at least one program is dedicated to helping people put down their smartphones more often. Last year, UScellular introduced US Mode, a free program to help smartphone owners use their devices in a healthy manner. It is available to all smartphone users, regardless of their carrier.
The program will enable users to set time limits on social media apps, disable non-human push notifications, delete red notification bubbles for apps, enable establishment of quiet time and customize app displays.