When is the best time to sell a smartphone?



Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Reporter

Myles Ma is a senior reporter at Policygenius, where he covers personal finance and insurance and writes the Easy Money newsletter. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

Published February 21, 2018 | 2 min read

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Cars lose a ton of value as soon as they leave the lot. The same goes for technology, but even faster. Smartphones depreciate as much as 65% as soon as they come out of the box, according to data from Decluttr.com, a tech buy-back site.

But you can still get value out of your old phone. You just have to time it right. For example, now might be the best time to sell an old Samsung device, with the Samsung Galaxy S9 set to launch Sunday. That's because trade-ins typically earn 25% more before the launch of a major manufacturer release than after, Decluttr said.

Which phones depreciate fastest?

Decluttr also used trade-in data to compare the depreciation rates of iPhones and Samsungs. Samsung fared poorly in the comparison. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ each lost more than 60% of their value nine months after launch. Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 still held about 50% of its value nine months after launch, while the iPhone 8 and 8+ were depreciating more slowly than Samsung models four months out.

"Our study has shown that it really does not pay to hold on to Samsung devices for too long, as they depreciate a lot faster," said Liam Howley, chief marketing officer for Decluttr.

Check the infographic below for more details.

What to know about buying & selling used phones

The secondary market for smartphones was worth about $17 billion as of 2016, and is likely to grow, according to Deloitte. A growing number of consumers may opt to buy used rather than new the next time they need a phone.

If you're thinking of buying a used phone, make sure it works with your carrier. Some smartphones are locked to specific networks, Deloitte said. You may want to purchase insurance for a used phone as well. Check what your renters or homeowners insurance already covers before buying a separate policy for your phone.

Selling your phone? Be sure to erase all the data before making a deal. Not sure how? CNet has a good guide for preparing most phones for sale. And as we mentioned above, you may want to wait until just before the next big manufacturer release to get the most resale value.

Image: shapecharge