When the first-generation iPhone came out in 2008 for about $700, people thought it was expensive… That’s a far cry from the price of a new iPhone these days where an iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB will cost an eye-watering $2369 – more expensive than an entry-level MacBook. With prices of new phones inching higher and higher, the recent rise in popularity of refurbished phones from industry experts like Phonebot sounds like an almost alternative approach to smartphone ownership. But is it?
The reason behind the rise in demand for refurbished phones is something manufacturers and carriers ought to have anticipated. Here are some reasons why.
Supply chain disruptions
At the height of the pandemic and supply lines from China disrupted, there was a shortage of new mobile devices. Research done by DW shows the sales for electronic devices at the time went up by 10 per cent. This opened people up to other alternatives in pre-owned and refurbished phones. The first three months of lockdown did the most damage, with many people needing a reliable device for work from home or homeschooling arrangements. This was the time a sizeable chunk of Aussies had a taste of refurbished devices and realised – they weren’t that bad. Once people had a good second look, it is estimated that refurbished phone numbers have gone up significantly to hit double digit growth in 2020 and this number is still growing.
Expensive carrier contracts
While some may have expected the rise in demand to be a Covid-19 thing, the reality is that phone buyers have been actively moving from expensive carrier contracts. Refurbished devices are a one-time price that allows freedom of career and mobile or data plan. These contracts that seemingly appeared as the easiest way for users to get a new phone have turned out to be ways to be roped into monthly fees through which the carriers recoup the discounts given to them and more. With consumers upgrading their phones every 23 months on average, carrier and manufacturer contracts are seen as binding ties that end up benefiting them with no real benefit to the buyer. Buyers are less compelled even with the option to buy a refurbished device on a plan from manufacturers. This led to the invention of leasing programs which have not taken off either.
No real upgrades between a phone’s generations.
As innovations in the mobile phone space stabilise, the tech gap between different generations is not as wide as it used to be. This means that having an older phone is no longer a disadvantage as it can do pretty much what the new devices can. Consider the case of the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S20, from which the newer phone retains many of the old phone’s features with no new groundbreaking features. In this case, a refurbished phone will work just as well and satisfy the owner’s need without feeling like they are missing out on a lot. That said, this also opens up an excellent way for you to be get involved in the fight for environmental sustainability, given that electronic waste is increasing at alarming rates.
If you were to buy an entry level iPhone today – let’s say an iPhone SE 2020 64gb from Apple – it would set you back $679 for the phone as these days most of the new iPhones are being sold without charger or headphones. Compare this to a $479 refurbished iPhone SE 2020 64gb from Phonebot with one-year warranty which comes with charger and cable. Thats a whopping 29 per cent discount for a current model iPhone.