How much is my tech worth?
by Rasheeda Russell on Jun 07, 2022
Nowadays you can re-sell pretty much anything. There is a growing second-hand market in most items. For example, a 2019 article showed that the fashion resale market is exploding, growing 21 times faster than the retail market over the past three years. Much like the market for recycled fashion, the market for second-hand technology has also seen large growth. This growth will be further fuelled by new legislation, such as the EU “right to repair”.
Technology is no longer disposable, the better manufacturers produce well-made devices that are made to last. And with the pace of innovation slowing down, and the push to “right to repair”, these devices can still remain “current” for a number of years. Manufacturers (read Apple!) will also be forced to keep software updates available to all their devices (depending on speed of course). The fact we can now get value for our devices after the first use will also encourage consumers and businesses to invest in better tech at the outset.
The more we re-use the better it is for the environment. The less new technology being produced means less raw materials that have to be extracted from the earth. Less carbon is also produced by the manufacturing process and there are less air miles moving raw materials or the final product all over the world. Less disposal means less that ends up in landfill.
But how much is your tech worth after buying it, what brands hold their value the best and what other things should you keep in mind?
When you buy a new car its steepest depreciation occurs as soon as it leaves the car showroom. It’s the same with tech, an iPhone or laptop loses its value as a soon as you take it out of the box.
Before we look at the depreciation of individual devices there are some important things to remember.
Think about when you buy your device
For an iPhone don’t buy just before the traditional launch dates. For example, don’t buy a new iPhone in August. The value of a device drops as soon as the newer model is released. So your new iPhone will suffer a years’ worth of depreciation in a month.
For Samsung and other Android devices avoid buying just after the launch of a new model. If sales don’t hold up some manufacturers will reduce prices a few months after launch, which negatively impacts the refurbished market.
Upgrades don’t hold their value. If you upgrade the storage on a phone or add extra Hard Disk space or RAM this won’t hold its full value. Try not to pimp up a lower spec’d model but move up to the next model up in the range.
Keep your devices in a good condition. Devices in a poor condition get a lot less value so for a phone invest in a good case and screen protector.
Buy the best brands. Apple wins here hands down. Apple devices hold their value well and are the most in-demand for the second life market. The better brands release less.
As we can see from the table, the first year sees the heaviest loss (looking at the iPhone XS Max) in value. In general iPhones lose around 30% of their value every year. The market for refurbished iPhones is very active, however, so selling your iPhone when you need to upgrade is relatively easy. There are also lots of avenues to recycle your phone, even if it’s damaged. With the slow down in innovation in iPhones and less excitement on new launches, it may be that iPhones start to hold their value better.
These hold their value better than iPhones. The deprecation is approximately 20% per year. As with iPhones the most value is lost in the early years, as can be seen by the 2018 iPad Pro. In general, people hold onto their iPads for longer (and therefore there is less supply in the re-used market).
These hold their value remarkably well. There is a strong second life market. Consumers trust that Apple devices have a long use life. As Apple MacBooks have a high initial price, buying a refurbished or used device is attractive. MacBook Airs hold their value the best out of the MacBook range. The biggest deprecation is felt by old 15” MacBooks Pros which have been upgraded with additional RAM and/or storage.
Samsung devices do not do as well as Apple devices. Part of the problem is Samsung’s own pricing of new products. As opposed to Apple, who do not discount devices at all, Samsung will often decrease new products as the model comes to an end of its life. Samsung also launch more new phones, again diluting the price in the second life market. The demand for used Samsung devices is also a lot less than Apple devices.
Other Android Devices
As we can see from the table Huawei and One Plus devices do not hold thrift value very well at all. This is down to a lower quality design and therefore less confidence in buying a used device.
You don’t get much for these at all. The maximum amount for even the most expensive devices is £100-£200. There is also a large amount of supply from business-owned devices. So if you are going to buy a Windows laptop buy a second hand or refurbished device.
When considering smartphones Apple is the safest choice. Apple devices hold their value well and they are well built with regular software updates, therefore they have a longer life. Android devices last significantly less well.
With the right to repair movement gaining steam it will become more attractive to own Android devices and it will become easier to repair these and extend their lifespan.
Tablets are more difficult to get hold of in the refurbished market due to how long people hold onto them and therefore they hold their value well.
Apple Laptops are a worthwhile investment with marginal depreciation year to year. Generally, higher spec laptops depreciate much faster. Windows-based laptops depreciate even faster still.