Your Android smartphone could be worthless after a few years

The iPhone holds its value really well compared to even flagship Android devices.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

If you're someone who sells their smartphone when it's time to upgrade to a new one, whether you buy an iPhone or Android can make a huge difference.

Buy some Android smartphones, and they could be worthless in a few years.

Cell phone trade-in site BankMyCell has been tracking data on the resale value of 500 smartphones, and it makes some pretty grim reading, especially Android owners.

For example:

  • Over a three year period, flagship Android devices drop twice as fast as iPhones.
  • Samsung's Galaxy S21/S20 resale value range dropped double the rate of the comparable iPhone 12/11 range.
  • Next-gen foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 lost up to half their value just 5 months from launch.
  • Google Pixel and OnePlus trade-in values drop by almost half the retail price in 30 days.
  • Budget Android devices lose an average of 41.82% in 1 year, worthless after 3-4 years.

Depreciation: iPhone vs Android

It's not all fun and games for iPhone users either. For example, the iPhone SE 2020 lost 38.32% of its value in the first eight months of 2020, and went on to lose a further 48.74% in in 2021, making it the fastest depreciating iPhone to date.

Comparing iPhone to Android, it's pretty clear which platform is the best in terms of retaining value:

  • Year 1-4 from release, the average yearly loss of a new iPhone is 14.80% of its original trade-in value, whereas Android devices lost 32.18%.
  • After 4 years, iPhones will lose 47.49% of their initial buyback value, whereas flagship Android phones will lose 78.94% on average. 
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