Thinking about buying a refurbished smartphone? You're not alone

Sales of refurbished devices are expected to more than double in the next three years

Buying refurbished smartphones will become increasingly popular in the next couple of years, with consumers benefiting from increased competition.

That more consumers are considering getting a refurbished smartphone isn't a surprise. With product innovation slowing down, smartphones that are a generation or two old look increasingly attractive compared to their new counterparts.

This will help the worldwide market for refurbished phones that are sold to end users more than double from 56 million units last year to 120 million in 2017, according to market research company Gartner. That's much more impressive than the anticipated 60 percent growth in sales of new smartphones in the same time period.

For consumers the increase will be a boon. The growing number of privately sold phones will stir up competition in the take-back market and drive mobile operators and refurbishers to engage in more aggressive marketing campaigns and new incentives, Gartner said.

Smartphone makers also have to take a closer look and evaluate the growing popularity of secondhand devices. The market is expected to be worth around US$3 billion this year, growing to $5 billion in 2017, so it would be stupid to just ignore it.

With many new models shipping in the next couple of months, consumers have to ask themselves if they should upgrade. Next month's Mobile World Congress will see HTC and Samsung Electronics launch new flagship products, making it more clear what the options are.

Some of the expected upgrades include 1440x2560-pixel screens, speedier processors, more RAM and 20-megapixel main cameras with optical imaging stabilization. For those that crave the latest and greatest, the new products likely won't disappoint even though the improvements aren't revolutionary.

But for people that have held on to their device for two years or more or are considering buying a mid-range smartphone, buying a used or refurbished high-end smartphone that tech enthusiasts are selling to be able to afford a new Galaxy S or HTC One could be a great alternative.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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