The premium and brand new smartphone market is stagnating, after years of major increases. It’s now time for the used and refurbished phone market to step up and be counted.

The refurbished mobile phone market is set to have a massive increase in market share, with the US market to have an approximate 30% annual growth by 2020 (the US being the biggest market). The refurbished phone market sold 15 million units in 2015, this is set to increase to 55 million in 2020, there are many reasons that consumers are turning their backs on brand new.

The main reason for the growth in refurbished phones is the price, many developing countries and lower income households, simply cannot afford a brand new £700+ smartphone. There are cheaper mobile handsets like the Motorola G6 and even monthly contracts but you can get a Samsung Galaxy S8 in pristine condition for less than half of the price of a brand new Samsung Galaxy S9. Why would you get a brand spanking new device when you can get a solid smartphone with all of the bells and whistles for a lot cheaper?

Consumers are starting to see past the clever marketing that the manufacturers produce, Samsung has touted wireless charging for years, yet Apple has used it as a key selling point for their iPhone X. The innovation for new smartphones have started to stutter, you can see this in the Android side of smartphones, arguing about their ‘innovative’ notch that gives you more space (which is not really usable). The latest tech innovation is definitely in-display fingerprint sensors, but this is nowhere near being worldwide ready. The new chipsets may also be the fastest available but are they really necessary for everyone? If you use your phone for social media and light gaming, you won’t notice a greater difference between last year’s flagship chipset and the chipset this year.

refurbished phone

The biggest potential stumbling block for refurbished phones is the grading system.

If you go onto different refurbished phone seller’s websites and read through their grading system, you will see that some will be different or more specific than others, especially below the grade B belt. Retailers could offer a grade C device with scratches that affect the function of the rear camera, while others may offer a dented frame. There is no real distinction between cosmetic damage and damage that affects other components of the phones use.

The refurbished phone sector needs grading unity.

Refurbished phone re-sellers need to find some unity when using their grading system; this will reduce the confusion with consumers and even between their selves. The big questions about devices need to be asked and segmented further; cosmetic damage needs to be a lot more specific. Do the scratches or dents obstruct functionality? Does the battery charge/hold a charge as it used to? Can it be unlocked? Was the data wiped or was it hacked?

There are the questions that need to be addressed within the grading system; Grade C cannot be the same with all of these different issues.