Global Refurbished Smartphone Market Growth Slows to 1% in 2018

The secondary industry was affected by the 11% drop in new smartphone sales in key supply countries such as China and the United States leading to a decline in the availability of used devices  

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul

March 13, 2019

The global market for refurbished smartphones slowed to 1% year-over-year growth in 2018, reaching close to 140 million units, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Refurbished Smartphone Tracker. The secondary industry slowed due to the 11% drop in new smartphone sales in key supply countries such as China and the United States. The drop in new device sales led to a decline in devices flowing into the secondary market. However, this drop was partially offset by improvements in the secondary market’s ecosystem of collection, grading, repairing, and online/offline selling.

Commenting on the size of the secondary market, Tom Kang, Research Director at Counterpoint Research highlighted, “The refurbished smartphone market cooled because of the slowdown of new device sales. The US and China markets saw lower upgrade cycles in 2018, which affected the flow of devices into the secondary market. In addition, China and US trade tensions held up devices in customs much longer than normal. This was especially true during the first half of the year.”

Kang added, “There were areas of growth. The India market grew 14% to almost 14 million refurbished devices. This is an impressive number because the refurbished market ecosystem remains nascent in the country and 72% of devices in India do not go into the secondary market. Therefore, there are tremendous growth opportunities.”

Exhibit 1: Key Country and Regional Refurbished Handset Growth RatesKey Country and Regional Refurbished Handset Growth Rates

Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director at Counterpoint Research added, “For the refurbished market to expand in new markets, the grading system must be standardized and improved. This is especially true in emerging markets where there is limited oversight and limited protections for consumers if the quality is lower than advertised. There will be improvements as the industry is using new technologies such as artificial intelligence to predict device usability and lifespans. There are also new software solutions being developed which will revolutionize grading. This will vastly improve on today’s diagnostic checklist. The next generation of diagnostic tools will be able to test many more components of the smartphone with the result being a much more qualified grading system.”

Other key themes which will help the industry in 2019 and beyond:

  • Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the refurbished market with 70% market share. Many within the refurbished ecosystem cater only to these two customers because their residual value is so much greater than the remaining field. Huawei is growing in popularity, especially in South East Asia.
  • New business models and more marketplace companies entering the ecosystem. There will be numerous more online and offline business models. This will make it easier for consumers to find appropriate refurbished devices and sellers to find buyers.
  • Recognized tier one distributors and service centers continue to become more vertically integrated with greater scale.
  • More government ‘green’ policies are being enforced. This includes right-to-repair laws and more leniency importing and exporting of used devices.
  • Higher percentage of refurbished devices are sold with warranties. This greatly helps overcome consumer hesitancy to purchase refurbished devices

Please feel free to contact us at press(at) for further questions regarding our in-depth latest research, insights or press enquiries.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in detailed industry analysis of the TMT sectors. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of over 15 years in high tech industries.

Analyst Contacts:

Jeff Fieldhack
+1 858 603 2703

Tom Kang

Follow Counterpoint Research      

Jeff has 25+ years experience in technology research, business development, competitive intelligence, and business management. Prior to joining Counterpoint Research, Jeff held various research & product development roles at Microsoft, Nokia, Roth Capital Partners, and Gartner. Jeff is a member of many telecom industry organizations including Colorado Wireless Association,, CommNexus, and is a regular speaker at major telecom industry events. He was a 4x NCAA all-American in tennis and is a 12-time finisher of the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.