Pragmatic youth buy used phones despite new model rollouts
Used phones are selling well as a combination of budget conscious consumers and the global chip shortage conspire to lift the market in secondhand tech.
The strong numbers come even as Apple and Samsung Electronics roll out the shiniest new gadgets.
In August, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Fold 3 foldables were released. A month later, the iPhone 13 hit the market.
Perfectly good earlier versions of these phones, which proponents say are every bit as feature-rich as the new models, are available, and they are cheaper to boot.
According to UPM, which tracks the online sale of secondhand phones, 5,009 Galaxy Z Fold 2 256-gigabyte models were sold online in August, up 4.5 percent on month.
This happened even as Samsung Electronics was taking orders for the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
UPM says its smartphone trading data cover 60 to 70 percent of the total market.
The number of Z Fold 2 models sold dropped 21.5 percent on month in September, but 3,933 were still unloaded.
Used foldables sold for an average of 1.08 million won ($903) in August, down 5.8 percent on month, and for 1.04 million won in September, down 3.6 percent on month.
Although average prices slightly fell, models that were in good condition traded at high prices. The highest selling price for the Z Fold 2 256GB model was 1.25 million won in August, but rose 1.2 percent on month to 1.27 million won in September.
The lack of supply from the manufacturers is certainly a factor.
"A lot of attention was drawn to the new release of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but some customers decided to buy the Galaxy Z Fold 2 because supply couldn't keep up," said UPM CEO Yoo Sang-hyun.
Secondhand phones are popular if the phone doesn't change much from one generation to the next. In cases where there is a significant difference, customers will often go for the newer model despite the price difference.
Galaxy Z Flip 5G 256GB models sold for 523,000 won in August, down 15.9 percent on month. They sold for 452,000 won in September, down 13.6 percent on month.
The price of iPhone 12s fell by a smaller margin despite the availability of the new iPhone 13, announced on Sept. 14. People could buy used iPhone 12 128GB models for an average of 679,000 won in August, down 3.7 percent on month. It sold for 630,000 won in September, down 7.2 percent.
The highest selling price rose for a used iPhone 12, at 870,000 won in September, up 2.4 percent on month.
iPhones hold their value better than devices from competitors. According Bungaejangter, a secondhand market, iPhone 11s sold for some 70 percent of the original price when Apple released iPhone 12s.
"People in their 20s and 30s use their phones carefully because they consider reselling theirs, even keeping the product box and accessories," said UPM CEO Yoo. "This tends to raise iPhone's second hand prices."
According to Bungaejangter, the most searched product on its app during the January-June period was the iPhone12, with 420,000 searches. The iPhone11 and iPhone XS followed, with 340,000 and 310,000 searches, respectively.
Young people make "rational decisions and tend to consider buying secondhand smartphones," said Pyo Byung-hoon, head of Bungaejangter's Digital Business division. "Some do so because they just like the prior models more."
BY KIM GYEONG-JIN, LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]