Buying your smartphones used can save you a lot of money compared to buying new – or is it possible? We’ve done some math to see which is the best route when it comes to buying new or used smartphones.
Soon: The Best Way to Save Money on Tech: Buy Used
There’s a good argument for buying something new (not just smartphones), and that’s that even if you’ll spend more money upfront on a brand new product, you’ll probably keep it forever (or at least as long as possible until it finally bites the dust). Because of this, you will end up spending less money than buying used (or inferior) products more frequently.
As an example, if you buy the latest and greatest phone when it comes out and keep it for about four years (a good lifespan of most smartphones, we’d say), the argument is that it will be cheaper in the long run than buying a one- or two-year-old used phone twice in the same period.
This is technically true for many different products, especially items designed to last a lifetime, but I wanted to see if it was true for smartphones. So I pulled out the calculator and did some math.
Buying new or used iPhones
Determining the cost of owning a brand new iPhone over four years is quite simple. All we have to do is take the price and divide it by four to get the average annual cost. For this example, we will use the iPhone XR.
The iPhone XR is $750 brand new. If you end up keeping that same phone for four years, the average annual cost is $187.50.
Now let’s say you want to buy a used iPhone, but since you’re buying used, it’s probably an older model, which theoretically won’t last as long as a brand new model. So let’s say you buy a used iPhone 8 (a 1-year-old phone) for $490, which is average sale price on Swappa for the base model at the time of this writing.
By keeping the four-year lifespan factor, you’ll end up buying another one-year-old used iPhone three years later. We’ll say it’s $490 more. So, over the course of 12 years, you’ve spent $1,960 on used iPhones (compared to $2,250 on brand new iPhones over the same period), which is $163.30 for the average annual cost.
But let’s say you want to buy even older used iPhones because you still can’t afford the $490 iPhone 8. Instead, you opt for the two-year-old iPhone 7 with a average selling price of $310 on Swappa for the base model.
Since this is an even older iPhone, you will have to buy a new used iPhone even sooner, say every two years. So over 12 years, you must have bought six iPhones at $310 each, which is a total of $1860, or $155 per year on average. Here’s a nifty chart that visualizes all of this:
Of course, all of this assumes that new iPhones will still cost $750, and used models will still cost $490 or $310, depending on their age, but those are good average numbers.
Either way, the math spoke for itself: If you’re not okay with not always having the latest and greatest iPhone, you’re technically better off, financially, to buy older models. more frequently than just buying a brand new phone and keeping it. for a long time.
Soon: Buying used smartphones becomes less attractive
However, the difference is quite minimal. You only save about $3 per month when you choose to buy two-year-old iPhones more frequently than just buy a brand new phone and keep it for a long time. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you do if your goal is to save money – neither option is much cheaper than the other, but at least be aware of the downsides of buying second hand.
Buying new or used Android phones
With Android phones, the savings are significantly better if you go the used route, simply because the resale value of Android devices is quite low. I did the math to see the differences, for both the Samsung Galaxy S phones and Google’s Pixel line of phones (arguably the two most popular Android phone lines on the market).
Here’s what we came up with for Samsung Galaxy phones, using the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S7 respectively, and using the same methodology and sources as iPhones:
And here’s what it looks like if you were all-in on Google’s Android line of phones, using the Pixel 3 (due out next month and assuming a $650 price tag), Pixel 2, and Pixel 3, respectively. pixels:
If you plan on longevity, maybe don’t use Android
So here’s the problem with Android phones: Not only do they barely hold their resale value compared to iPhones, but Android device makers are quick to scrap older phones.
Soon: Six iPhone Features You Won’t Find on Android
For this reason, buying a two-year-old Android phone is a riskier decision than buying a two-year-old iPhone. If you bought a Galaxy S7 today, you could be able make it last two more years, but that would be extremely long at this point, whereas an iPhone 6 still works quite well today, and it will probably still receive updates for at least a few more years.
There’s no denying the savings, however, if you opt to buy old, second-hand Android phones. But you’ll want to keep your expectations realistic about what you’ll get out of this device.