Just like a new car starts to lose value the second you drive it out of the dealership, phones start to depreciate as soon as you take them out of the box - and some depreciate in value much faster than others.
Our Annual Phone Depreciation Report uses our own trade-in data to compare the values of the most popular phones from Apple, Samsung, Google, OnePlus and Huawei, for three years from the date the device was launched, creating a definitive guide to phone depreciation.
We’ve crunched the numbers to help you reduce the amount of money you lose from depreciation and help you make smarter choices for the environment too.
Key Highlights of This Year's Report:
Money lost over time to depreciation
We asked 2,093 mobile phone users in the UK about their trade-in habits. We then combined this insight with our own depreciation data to find out how much money is typically lost in a lifetime through mistimed trade-ins.
Our survey revealed that 61% of people do not trade in their device at the same time as upgrading, waiting an average of sixteen months to do so. During this time, their device will lose 50% of its value.
During this sixteen month period, the average phone will decrease in value by £95. With an average of 35 upgrades throughout a person’s lifetime, a huge £3.4K is lost on average simply due to delaying trading in old phones.
16% of people delaying trading in their old phones are not aware of the effect it will have on the value of their phone, and a further one in ten (10%) think that they will get more money for their phones, the longer they wait.
A third (33%) of phone owners in the UK don’t trade in their old phones at all, which means they could be sitting at home losing value and have the potential to contribute to the e-waste piling up in landfills across the globe. These numbers increase in older generations, with 42% of phone owners aged 45 and over not trading in their old phones at all.
Which brands are holding onto the most value?
From trade-in data we can see which phone brands retain their value the best - and it’s good news for iPhone fans, as Apple continues to hold the top spot.
On average, iPhones lose 41% of their value in the 12 months after they are released and 60% by the end of a standard 24-month contract period.
Samsung takes the number two spot with their phones losing an average of 64% of their value in the 12 months after launch, a figure that rises to 77% after 24 months.
OnePlus phones lose 78% of their value on average after 24 months, and Google phones lose an average of 83% in the 24 months after their release, beating Huawei at 87%.
Which phones are retaining the most value?
5G-enabled iPhones retaining significantly higher value than 5G-enabled Samsung devices
Of all the 5G phones released, the iPhone 12 Pro, one of Apple’s first 5G-enabled models, managed to retain its value the best in the six months after release, dropping by just 32%. Samsung’s first 5G-enabled phone release, the Samsung 10 5G, lost a higher 55% of its value in the first six months.
Apple 5G-enabled models on average lose just 38% of their value six months from release, compared to Samsung 5G-enabled models which lose a much higher 62%.
The more expensive phones retain their value longer
In recent years, we’ve seen that the most expensive smartphones now regularly exceed the £1,000 mark. However, our research found that while prices are increasing, phones worth over £600 when released are retaining their value far better than the less expensive models.
Value lost in the first six months after release
Of all the phones released from 2019 onwards, the iPhone 12 Pro again retained its value the best in the six months after its release, losing just 32%.
The Google Pixel 3a, which cost just £399 on release, lost double this, at 64%.
Of the phones costing £999 or more, the average amount lost in the first six months is 53%. Phones with a release value of £600-£899 lost on average 54% and phones costing £599 or less lost 62% six months after release.
Value lost in the first year after release
This pattern continues at 12 months from release, with the value of phones over £999 dropping by 59% over this period, while £600-£899 priced phones dropped by 61%, and phones worth £599 or less dropped by 68%.
The 10 phones which held the most of their value at 12 months are all iPhones - making them the better investment for people who are likely to trade their device back in every year to upgrade.
The iPhone 11 has held onto its value the best, depreciating by 33% in the first 12 months. The iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 8 Plus take the 2nd and 3rd positions, losing 36% and 38% of their value respectively after 12 months.
The OnePlus 7T and the Samsung S7 Edge are the best performing non-Apple phones, losing 50% and 52% of their value in their first 12 months on sale.
Which phones are losing the most value?
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro was the worst performing phone in our 2021 report, losing a huge 87% of its value in the first year. The Huawei P20 and OnePlus 8 were the next worst performing phones, losing 84% and 83% of their value after just 12 months.
Apple’s worst performing model was the iPhone X, which lost 51% of its value 12 months after launch. The Samsung models which depreciated most in the first 12 months were Samsung Flip, which lost a substantial 83% of its value, and the Samsung Fold, which lost 75%.
So, when is the best time to sell your phone?
Our data tells us the trade-in values of phones throughout their lifespan. Using their price at release, we have calculated how much each phone has depreciated each month.
We know that the longer you wait to trade-in your device, the less you are going to receive for it. New releases also impact the value of your phone so if you are planning to upgrade, it’s important to trade-in your phone as soon as possible, rather than hanging on to it. We offer a 21 day price guarantee, so you can lock in your price while you’re waiting for your new phone to arrive.
Looking to upgrade to the latest phone?
Selling your old phone is a great way to raise some extra cash.
How will the new iPhone release affect the value of your phone?
In the past four years, the launch of a new iPhone has seen the value of its predecessors drop by around 10% in the first month alone, and by an average of 23% after 3 months.
When the iPhone 12 was released in 2020, it caused the iPhone 11 to drop in value by 16% in just 1 month, and the iPhone 11 Pro to drop by 22% after 3 months.
The table below demonstrates what could happen to the value of the iPhone 12 if it were to drop by the averages of 10% after 1 month and 23% after 3 months.
Musicmagpie CEO, Steve Oliver
Our data shows that trading in your old device as soon as you upgrade is the way to get the best value from it, which can then be used to help fund the purchase of an upgrade or to be spent as you please. Our trade-in offers are valid for 21 days, giving people time to ensure their new device has arrived before they send their old one to us.
By regularly holding on to unused devices, people are losing out on the value they hold, which adds up to a considerable sum over time.
The factors fueling the demand for upgrades
Why are we upgrading?
Our survey of 2,093 UK mobile phone users revealed that they will get a new phone because they are either eligible for an upgrade (24%) or their contract is ending with an existing phone provider (18%). As opposed to the 32% of people who will get a new phone because theirs is damaged.
The data also shows that the release of new models plays a big part in driving upgrades, as 27% of iPhone users stated they will be upgrading to the new iPhone 13 as soon as it is launched.
This endless upgrade cycle means that more phones are left unused every year, contributing to the growing e-waste problem and leaving people out of pocket if they’re not considering the best time to trade in their old device. Our previous research revealed Brits own £16.5 billion worth of technology they no longer use, with the average household owning 11 unused devices.
16% of mobile phone users plan to upgrade to the new iPhone 13 once it is released, 23% are unsure and 61% currently plan not to. Of those that will be upgrading, the top three motivations for doing so are to get a better camera (37%), because a contract is ending (35%), or to get a better battery life (34%).
Remote working and 5G
The new age of remote working has resulted in us expecting more from our phones, as 16% of people who will be upgrading to the iPhone 13 stated they will be upgrading to help facilitate their working from home.
Many predicted and have spoken about a supercycle of upgrades, facilitated by 5G, and our research found that 18% of mobile phone users are already using 5G phones. An additional 31% then went on to say that they plan to upgrade to a 5G device in the next 12 months. Only 6% of people still don’t know what 5G is.
Although two thirds of those with a 5G device say they have seen an improvement in their phones since upgrading, which is good news, it’s important all those older phones don’t end up in the drawer collecting dust and are traded in or recycled responsibly, extending the lifespan of that device and its parts and ensuring they enter the circular economy.
How is the global chip shortage affecting upgrades
With reports of availability issues for new tech launches due to a global chip shortage, only 56% of those wanting to upgrade to the new iPhone are willing to wait if there are supply issues.
15% have already experienced availability issues on tech purchases in the last year, with 14% of these people experiencing availability issues on gaming consoles like the PS5, and a further 15% have experienced availability issues on mobile phones.
Environmental impact of not trading in
Unused mobile phones and other tech devices which aren’t traded in or recycled responsibly can end up in landfill, where they cause all kinds of environmental issues.
Given that 61% of mobile phone users are not trading in their phones as soon as they upgrade, this problem will continue to get worse, as phones are more likely to sit in drawers losing their value and becoming obsolete the longer they are left unused.
Despite this, our research showed that 63% of mobile phone users claimed they would be interested in trading in their phones if they knew it had environmental benefits, and 47% would even be interested in purchasing second hand or refurbished phones too.
Steve Oliver added: “E-waste poses a huge threat to the environment. We can all do our bit to reduce it by responsibly recycling and reselling unused phones and other tech products we no longer use - keeping them in a circular economy”
Trading in your old phone as soon as you get a new one will not only help tackle the growing e-waste issue but it will also mean you get a better price for your old phone. See how much money you can earn from trading your old tech today with musicMagpie.
To create our Annual Phone Depreciation Report, we use our own trade-in data to look at the trade-in values of the most popular handsets from Apple, Samsung, Google, OnePlus, and Huawei for 36 months from their launch date. The data was based on musicMagpie’s ‘good’ trade-in prices on unlocked phones. The storage capacity on the devices we analysed was based on popularity - we used the most common variant against each generation.
The estimated drop in the value of iPhones after a new model is released was calculated using the average drop in the value of the new model’s predecessors after new releases from 2018 and onwards
Money lost over time to depreciation
The lifetime value of money people* are losing over time to depreciation was calculated using:
The average length of phone ownership in the UK, according to our survey (24 months)
The average length of time those who don’t trade in as they upgrade wait prior to trading in an old device (16 months)
The average value of phones at the respective months following a device’s launch
The average value loss on mobile devices** between 24 months and 40 months told us how much people would be losing by waiting to trade-in. This figure was then multiplied by the number of average upgrades (35.5) over an average UK lifespan (81), less the first ten years of age.
The consumer research was commissioned by musicMagpie, through Censuswide, who ran a nationally representative survey of 2,093 UK adult mobile phone users, in August 2021.
It is estimated that 95% of the UK adult population use a mobile phone.
*This was based on 61% of the total sample of 2,093 people who used a mobile device. The 61% didn’t trade in when upgrading and either waited to trade in or didn’t at all
**We analysed the depreciation of the Apple, Samsung, and Google handsets musicMagpie holds data to calculate the average loss in value each month after their launch. These three brands were used due to their combined UK mobile phone market share accounting for over 80% of the total market.