The global market for refurbished smartphones grew 13 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) in 2017, reaching close to 140 million units, Counterpoint Research said on Wednesday.
This was in contrast with the global new smartphone market that grew a scant three percent last year. There are many grades of refurbished devices that attract different price points depending on available quantity and demand for a specific model or variant, according to Counterpoint's "Refurbished Smartphone Tracker" report.
"With 13 percent growth, refurbished smartphones are now close to 10 percent 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, Research Director, 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.
Refurbished smartphones are essentially pre-owned smartphones that are collected, rejuvenated or repaired to be sold again in the market.
"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," said Peter Richardson, Research Director, Counterpoint Research.
The report noted that Apple and Samsung's dominance is obvious in the refurb 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.