back to article Second-hand and refurbished phone market takes flight amid inflation hike

More and more cash-strapped people are opting to buy second hand and refurbished handsets in these tougher economic times with sales of used and refurbished devices estimated to have passed 282 million in 2022. The unit growth for those 12 months is some 11.5 percent higher than the prior year, and IDC number-crunchers have …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Devil

    Since my Sony Flip Phone the only "improvements" to cell phones have benefitted the vendors and their ability to monetize my data.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      ...and my old flip phone is not only small and quite robust but also has a replaceable battery. I might just return it to service....

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Let's see, things that I can do with my smart phone that I couldn't do with a flip phone:

      Various messaging apps

      Mapping and directions

      Taking notes

      Video conferences

      Higher quality photography

      Viewing and editing a wide variety of document types

      Posting this reply

      Etc.

      Just because a smartphone does not have utility to you does not mean it lacks utility for others.

      (And yes, I know a great many Reg readers use alternate tools to do these things. That does not obviate my point. Enjoy your stone tablets, guys.)

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Devil

        "Just because a smartphone does not have utility to you does not mean it lacks utility for others."

        My point was, the "others" in your quote are using that data to make BILLIONS while your privacy disappears before your eyes. Map GPS tracks where you go and what you do. Your apps / photos / video are parsed by bots with facial recognition to determine who you hang out with and your social activities. Your credit rating, insurance rates and even potential job prospects are impacted.

        Smart phones do everything for you, making you dumber. Phone runs out of battery and kids can't operate today. I grew up without a phone and am much better for it. To me a phone is a tool, nothing more. To anyone under 30, it's a leash. They just haven't pulled hard enough for you to notice.

        1. Tony W

          Up to my mid teens, most of my friends didn't have a phone in their house, let alone a mobile. So what? We didn't have lots of things, but that doesn't mean it's better to do without them now. Like your phone, mine is a tool, but it's also something I can have fun with. Like most people I try to strike my own balance between privacy and convenience, which won't be the same as yours. And when I might need it I carry a good magnetic compass that doesn't run out of battery. It's worth remembering that printing was blamed for ruining our ability to memorise, and TV ruined our ability to concentrate. You can't put smartphones back in the bottle anymore than people could those, so there's not a lot of point in railing against them and patronising their users.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          "My point was, the "others" in your quote are using that data to make BILLIONS while your privacy disappears before your eyes."

          And your point is so general as to become rubbish. Smartphones are small computers, and the privacy implications depends on what software you use and how you use it.

          "Map GPS tracks where you go and what you do."

          No, it doesn't. If you use a GPS application that has offline map data, it doesn't report where you went. You have many options, most of which use data from Open Street Map, and some of which are open source, which permit you to have navigation and privacy. Even if you use one that does report where you went, it doesn't automatically report what you do there.

          "apps / photos / video are parsed by bots with facial recognition to determine who you hang out with and your social activities."

          Nope. Some smartphone camera apps do facial recognition to organize photos, but that doesn't mean everything else is parsed or that the data is uploaded anywhere. Many phones lack the feature or can have it disabled. You can also install a different app for taking pictures if you don't like what the factory one does, and the factory one will no longer be able to run on that data.

          "Your credit rating, insurance rates and even potential job prospects are impacted."

          Now you're just making stuff up. That is a potential risk with the misuse of private data, but it doesn't automatically come from owning or using a smartphone and you know it.

          "Smart phones do everything for you, making you dumber. Phone runs out of battery and kids can't operate today."

          The ever-popular assumption of generational superiority with no evidence to back it up. Your parents might have had one about you too, whether that was about the stupidity-inducing power of computers, television, radio, electricity, telegraph, cheap oil lighting, easy availability of written content, general availability of written content, or existence of writing altogether. You know how that assumption about you being stupid is pathetic? It applies to this one too.

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      This is a fascinating thread, its easy to spot the smartphone lovers and haters. I am of the later persuasion, but since I've moved to using a Freestyle Libre 2 continuous glucose monitor I've needed to get one to save me carrying my good old Doro feature phone plus sensor reader.

      Trying to find one that was compatible and I was willing to carry round was a bit difficult. I do not want a 6.85" monster needing a rucksack to cart round with me. In all my reading I found one review of one phone that actually mentioned how good it was for making phone calls. It seems that the phone part is less and less relevant. These days it might be better to refer to them as "incredibly portable computers" as opposed to the luggables of the old days.

      Personally I prefer to watch films on that slightly larger screen sitting in the corner, read emails, articles and comment sections on my 17" laptop. Your smartphone loving eyes may be better than mine though.

      As a comment on different people wanting different things I'd refer to maps - I live in Caithness - I know both of the roads up here - no need for a map!

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        I wouldn't ask anyone to get a smartphone if they don't want one, just to avoid making incorrect allegations about what the negatives are. As for your situation, I'm with you about the size of most modern phones; I'm still using an old phone because few new ones come anywhere close to its size.

        By the way, most reviews don't talk that much about phone call quality because it's seen as a basic feature. They're all basically fine, so reviews only tend to mention it when it's markedly bad. It's like a laptop review discussing the quality of USB ports--if they're doing it, it probably means there's a big problem with the USB ports. Unless you need something unusual, such as an adjustment for a hearing disability, phone calls will probably be fine. I make lots of calls on mine with no complaints, and I've had similar experiences on other models.

  2. YetAnotherXyzzy Bronze badge

    Back Market

    For a couple of years now, refurbished seller Back Market has been my first stop for phones. Recommended.

    https://www.backmarket.com/

    1. boris9k3

      Re: Back Market

      I agree. I used them to replace a smashed 5 year old phone. It looked brand new and after 3 months no issues . For me me it was a very good deal.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Back Market

      Yes, just used Back Market for a couple of Christmas purchases, 30±% of the original cost if I'm not mistaken. Still have a few weeks to return the items too!

  3. fishman

    Wait on buying new

    If you wait a few months after a phone's introduction you can often find pretty good discounts. Buying used means you don't know if the previous owner abused the battery.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Wait on buying new

      Batteries can be replaced (in most models) if you have the right know-how, which I imagine would be a key element of refurbishment. The bigger issue that I see is a lack of security updates, but I can envision a wily entrepreneur reloading Android phones, at least, with an AOSP build such as Lineage and then reselling them with an extended support or warranty plan, which would extend their lives even further.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Wait on buying new

        "I can envision a wily entrepreneur reloading Android phones, at least, with an AOSP build such as Lineage and then reselling them with an extended support or warranty plan, which would extend their lives even further."

        I can imagine that too, but I've yet to see one that achieves these goals without compromising on others. I have seen, for example, some distributions funding themselves by selling phones with the distribution applied, but usually without any guarantees on the hardware and at prices similar, if not higher, to the phone's original price (because of compatibility issues, new devices are rarely sold there). It helps to fund the projects, so that's nice, but it doesn't help for people who want to save money.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait on buying new

      I will eventually have to purchase a smartphone, so what i will do is purchase one with a removable battery. They are reasonably rare, and the current models from Nokia seems to offer only one at the cheap end. No point in purchasing an expensive smartphone that will hardly be used for smartphone capabilities.

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: Wait on buying new

        I just bought a Samsung XCover 5 - 5" screen and replaceable battery. Look on Amazon

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait on buying new

          I checked the price - £200+ and is double the amount i am prepared to pay.

          As per other posters, once the mobile is not being updated security wise, i would install Lineage OS, to esnure its security. That is why i mentioned Nokia, as they are good value for money.

  4. John Robson Silver badge

    It used to be that there was a benefit to upgrading.

    Not so much any more the iPhone 6S at the "bottom" of the family hand me down ladder is still working just fine, and getting security updates.

    My issue is that the 6S, the 7 and the 8 all look like they'll run out of support at the same time.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    What do people with "high-end" phones, except bragging of course?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They probably stick them up their bum, knowing someone is about to call, ensuring vibrate is on.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Bum

        Or put it in your preferred trouser pocket and call it from your desk phone.

        I had a friend who used to do that.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Bum

          That's the problem with new flagship phones, it's hard to get something less than 6inches ( oh err missus)

          1. Bebu

            Re: Bum

            "That's the problem with new flagship phones, it's hard to get something less than 6inches ( oh err missus)"

            Even second hand the smallest phone I can find in ~5 inches. My samsung core prime was 4.8" but just before the pandemic I smashed the screen and I went back to my Nokia Asha 300 which was small enough to sit in my trouser's coin pocket. When you needed a smartphone to use the covid check in app I had to get a cheap clunky android phone.

            Since the demise of the check in requirement (~12 mo.) I have been using the Asha but I have only to 2024 before the 3G network is turned off here :(

            I am paranoid enough to think that if phone vendors cannot get consumers to continually update their phones they render the phones obsolete by having the networks upgraded :)

            I remember vaguely a "Corner Gas" episode (a Canadian sitcom) where the (male) characters went through cycles of purchasing ever smaller cellphones (this in the day of the "brick") until one of the female characters questioned the masculinity of the smaller phones. Different world then.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Bum

              The conspiracy goes much deeper:

              Phones get bigger

              Pockets in women's clothes get smaller

              Women are forced to buy handbags

              And the richest person in the world is now the guy that owns the luxury handbag brand LVMH - and he's French so probably a super-villain

      2. vogon00

        Phones up the bum? You've spent too much time in prison :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Purchased from phones4poo

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Look, I was just trying to configure pairing with my new Bluetooth equipped smart pee-sensing toilet and I slipped = it could happen to anyone

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Drugs and alcohol powered

    Good percentage of the used market is powered by people getting contract phones and then selling them immediately to feed their drug/alcohol habit.

    That seems to be never addressed.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Drugs and alcohol powered

      I am genuinely interested to know: is that a significant percentage of used phones?

      1. EVP Silver badge

        Re: Drugs and alcohol powered

        Mee too. The thing elsergiovolador descibed happens for sure, and not only with phones. Dunno what those people mainly want to fund, though. Probably booze, some perhaps blingy clothes, and some even food.

    2. C Berlin

      Re: Drugs and alcohol powered

      I like your comment, you are implying that service contracts should only be given to people who do not drink or take any other pleasure enhancing substances.

      How do you suggest to enforce it?

      what are your drug addictions? candy, coffee, soda, food?

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    While I am all for reusing perfectly good tech such as second hand phones, as i am myself running Lineage on a 6 year old Oneplus phone as my daily driver, and will continue to do so while 3rd parties offer software for it, there is an issue in the Android ecosystem of handsets only a couple of years old no longer getting software updates or security patches.

    And unless Google can finally get it working so they can push out all the security patches without the manufacturers involvement or device makers provide boot loader unlocking at the end of their software support so that 3rd party ROMs such as Lineage can be installed, there will be lots of places selling second hand phones using outdated versions of Android with unpatched security vulnerabilities, and unknowing buyers could be putting their data at risk buying them.

    Of course this is also a problem with iOS devices outside of the software support as well, but credit to Apple they do provide updates for a reasonable amount of time compared to a lot of Android phones.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it stops Google breaking shit

    Went to use Google Translate on my phone for the first time in a while. I wanted to point it at a box for a live translate. You know - like it used to.

    Oh, no. Turns out it's been "improved" and you need to take a fucking photo and send it to Google Lens.

    Fuck that. I installed a Jan 2021 version which still worked.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: If it stops Google breaking shit

      I've just tried that, and although it did ask me to take a photo for Google lens, it still does the on-the-fly video translation as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If it stops Google breaking shit

        They may have changed it again since last week ....

        That's my point.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: If it stops Google breaking shit

      Why not try the DeepL app?

  9. Boo Radley

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

    Last year I was offered the above referenced phone at what I considered a decent deal. It's the first new phone I've ever owned. I love It's big screen and ample storage, enough to last me for the five years of Android and security updates that came with it. After 23 years of buying used or having hand me down phones, I figured it was worth it. Over those years I've probably saved three times the cost of this phone.

    1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

      -- Over those years I've probably saved three times the cost of this phone. --

      BUT now you've spent it all :(

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thought experiment

    Do many of us even need a fancy phone at all?

    I do have one but almost never use it.

    I could get by with just email and a landline.

    1. Mishak Silver badge

      What I use mine for

      • Online banking / finance - much quicker than starting up the PC
      • Messaging
      • 2FA tokens (SMS and app based)
      • VoIP - landline replacement, may soon drop
      • Remote control of heating, lighting
      • Calendar
      • Email
      • Contacts
      • Photos - though I do also use "real" cameras
      • Navigation
      • Ticketing - flights, trains
      • And even calls every now and then

      I could manage without it, but it does make a lot of things much easier.

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