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Consumers holding onto mobile phones longer


Cell phones stacked on a table.

In the annual review of company data Hyla noted that trade-in activity was slower for the full year, but that it picked up significantly in the fourth quarter. | Sonyerry/Shutterstock

Mobile device trade-ins are older than they used to be, according to recent figures from device trade-in firm Hyla Mobile. Devices are also largely retaining their value.

Hyla Mobile, a Texas-headquartered reverse logistics company that refurbishes and resells mobile devices, on Feb. 11 released its annual review of trade-in data. The report draws on Hyla’s internal business information for 2020 as well as information from research firms Gartner, International Data Corporation (IDC) and Deloitte. Hyla periodically releases data points highlighting the trade-in market.

In 2020, the average age of iPhone trade-ins was 3.27 years, up from 3.10 years in 2019 and 2.87 years in 2018. Android Smartphones have followed a similar trend line, with their average trade-in age at 2.79 years in 2020, up from 2.75 years in 2019 and 2.56 years in 2018.

The average trade-in value for iPhones decreased slightly from $171.11 in 2019 to $169.85 in 2020, according to Hyla. But the average iPhone value is still up significantly from $158.57 in 2018.

Android smartphones, meanwhile, saw average trade-in values spike from $66.82 in 2019 to $95.37 in 2020.

The top traded devices were generations of the Apple iPhone: the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X and iPhone 7 Plus.

Hyla also pointed to an increasing trend of wearable device trade-ins, with more companies offering trade-in promotions around these devices, such as the Apple Watch.

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Finally, Hyla noted that trade-in activity was slower for the full year, but that it picked up significantly in the fourth quarter, and the company forecast a robust start for 2021.

“We expect the strong rebound we saw in the fourth quarter to continue into 2021 fueled by consumers’ appetite to upgrade to 5G to take advantage of faster speeds and increased bandwidth,” the company wrote in analyzing the data.

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