Counterpoint Research warned demand for 5G smartphones could prove a boon and a bust for the global refurbished device sector, fuelling demand for higher-tier models at the cost of lower-end units.

The company found 5G devices accounted for 13 per cent of sales of refurbished models globally in 2022, but cautioned the popularity of the devices could accelerate a decline in the price for pre-owned 4G units.

It noted a shift towards higher-priced models “may bring about a situation where the inventory of low-grade used smartphones” grows “significantly”. The flip side of this is an expectation of increased opportunities in end-of-life services including disassembly, recycling and e-waste disposal.

Supply chain disruption remained a factor in 2022: senior analyst Glen Cardoza explained the refurbished smartphone market still offers good potential, but noted the “limited supply is affecting most emerging markets like LatAm, Southeast Asia, India and Africa”.

Growing availability of device repair programmes are exacerbating the problem, with Cardoza noting these tend to focus on specific regions or nations and contribute to a reduction in the number of high-end models available to less-developed markets.

Research director Jeff Fieldhack added the bias towards mature markets in 2022 favoured larger second-hand device players because they “got better supply” in a constrained market.

Counterpoint Research found consumers are also willing to sacrifice perfection for price, preferring “a lower cost even if they have to deal with slightly more” flaws, Fieldhack stated.