Demand for refurbished iPhones soars in India


iPhone 12 mini
iPhone 12 and newer 5G iPhones are in high demand in India's pre-owned market.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Refurbished iPhones are “selling like hot cakes” in India. This is despite Apple not officially selling pre-owned iPhones in the country.

iPhones already dominate the premium smartphone market in India. However, its share in the secondary market is 2x higher.

Second-hand iPhone market in India is growing rapidly

A Financial Times report delves into the massive demand for pre-owned iPhones in India. Based on data from Counterpoint Research, the report claims iPhones accounted for 11 percent of secondary smartphone sales in the country in 2022. That’s up from a mere 3 percent in 2021.

For comparison, Apple has a 5 percent share in the country’s new smartphone market.

If not for supply issues, iPhone’s growth in India’s pre-owned market could be even higher. This is due to the Indian government not allowing the import of refurbished iPhones into the country. Secondly, there are only so many second-hand iPhones available in India.

Apple has previously unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Indian government to sell refurbished iPhones in the country.

Unlike Android phones, an iPhone “passes through three or four hands before it gets obsolete,” says analyst Harshit Pandey from Redseer Strategy Consultants.

Indians see Apple as an aspirational brand

In the second-hand market, there’s high demand for 5G-compatible models like iPhone 12 and newer. And devices as old as the iPhone 6s are being sold in the third or fourth-hand market. Many of these customers buy a new iPhone in the long run.

Besides iPhones, other Apple products are also in demand in India’s refurbished market. Apple products carry a higher resale value than other competing products. This is due to their build quality and popularity. iPhones and Apple also have an aspirational value among Indian consumers.

Thanks to Apple’s continued focus on India in recent years, its market share in the country will grow even further.


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