Technology moves fast. Whether it’s a shiny smartphone or top-of-the-line headphones, it seems as soon as you’ve bagged a new gadget, the next must-have model hits the market. It can be hard to resist the call of new tech; indeed, one in ten Americans upgrade their cell phone every year.
But in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, many consumers are choosing to save their money by buying second-hand tech on the resale market. It’s a booming business: In 2022, 282 million used and refurbished smartphones were shipped globally, a figure expected to reach 415 million in 2026.
Those old and used gadgets are cheaper to buy because they’ve depreciated in value over time. Like a new car losing value as soon as it inches off the lot, a smartphone loses around 42.7% of its value within a year of launch — much more, incidentally, than a new car.
So which of all the consumer gadgets on the market have lost the most value over time? And which of the world’s big-name brands claim the most depreciated tech products? SimpleGhar delved into thousands of Amazon listings to find out.
What We Did
Our analysis considers 29 leading consumer tech brands that produce smartphones, earbud headphones, tablets and smartwatches. For more than 1,000 tech products, we used Amazon U.S. and UK listings to compare the original RRP in USD to the standardized listed price for the same item in a ‘used: like new’ condition. We could then calculate the average value change (%) per year for each product since the year they were released.
- OnePlus gadgets lose more value (21.82%) per year on average than any other tech brand
- The Samsung Galaxy S22 has dropped by 40% in value — more than any other smartphone
- The iPhone 14 has depreciated by 24.68% — more than any other Apple gadget
- The Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ is the most depreciated tablet (35.23% drop in value since 2021)
- Three Philips’ brand headphones rank as the audio tech that has lost the most value since their release
OnePlus Technology Loses the Most Value Over Time
From smartphones to headphones, it’s clear we love our gadgets — in 2023 alone, the consumer technology market generated over $1,000 billion in revenue globally, an amount projected to grow by a further 2.32% every year. If you’re in that market and hunting for a new piece of technology, it can feel overwhelming trying to choose from the various big-name brands jostling for your attention.
At the same time, the cost-of-living crisis has seen more people consider the resale value of their tech investments. Indeed, a poll in the UK found that two in three adults are more likely to shell out for a pricey device if they know they can resell it later for a guaranteed return. With this in mind, we wondered: Which of the big-name tech brands lose the most value over time?
Based on the average value change between ‘new’ and ‘used’ products per year on Amazon, OnePlus takes the very top spot, with the average piece of tech losing 21.82% of its value over time. Common problems with this brand’s smartphones include fast battery drainage and unresponsive screens. Perhaps consumers aren’t willing to shell out for second-hand models when they are known to be troublesome, even when new.
Google comes second in the rankings, with the average product losing 17.55% of its value per year. Aaron Gordon for Vice Magazine laments how the brand discontinued security updates for the Pixel 3, a model released in 2018. Could it be that devices you can’t protect properly are worth less?
The Apple iPhone 14 Has Depreciated More in Value Than Any Other Apple Gadget
From the iPhone to the Apple Watch, Apple has released a rich array of gadgets as the world’s leading technology brand — but which of all their products has depreciated the most in value? Despite only being released in September 2022, the Apple iPhone 14 has lost the most value (24.68%) since its launch. According to resell company SellCell, a combination of the phone’s extravagant cost and underwhelming new features have led to a low resale value:
“Consumers’ perceived lack of innovation within the iPhone 14 base range has led to poor take-up of the device, post physical release …. This means demand is low on the resale market, too, so the value of the base range has dropped significantly.”
But rarity is a factor in future value; the original iPhone (released in 2007) may be old, but a mint condition unit sold for an eye-watering $39,339 last year. Perhaps the cut in production of the iPhone 14 will help boost its value in years to come?
Four Samsung Models Among the Smartphones That Have Lost the Most Value Since Release
Next, we focused our analysis on smartphones of all brands, finding that Samsung claims four of the top ten phones that have lost the most value per year on average since release. The top model overall is the Samsung Galaxy S22, having lost 40% of its value since 2022, but the Galaxy A53, A13 and S21+ also make an appearance in the rankings.
Compared to Apple — which has released only 38 iPhones since 2007 — Samsung is a fairly prolific brand when it comes to smartphone launches, releasing 56 models in 2014 alone. It could be that the value of Samsung’s offerings drops so quickly because a new one is always just around the corner.
In second place comes the Google Pixel 2, a model that has lost an average of 38.07% of value per year since its 2017 release. Google itself seems to have capped trade-in prices for Pixel phones at $205, with the original Pixel (2016) available to trade for just $25.01.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ Has Depreciated in Value More Than Any Other Tablet on the Market
As a tablet brand, Microsoft is nowhere near as popular as Apple and Samsung — yet the company claims half of the positions in our rankings of the top 10 tablets that have depreciated the most in value since launch. On top is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+, having lost an average of 35.23% in value per year since 2021.
Initially sold only to businesses and schools, Microsoft promised that the new Pro 7+ would have close to five more hours of battery life than its predecessor (the Pro 7); users, however, weren’t impressed. “In practice,” writes Adam Shepherd for ITPro, “we found that not only did the Surface Pro 7+ fail to deliver a full day’s usage before dying, but it’s also actually noticeably worse than the Surface Pro 7.”
The Honor-brand Honor Pad 8 comes next, having lost 32.42% of its original value since 2022. Unlike Microsoft and Apple tablets, this device uses the not-quite-as-flashy Android OS, which is prone to problems like poor update support. “[Android tablets occupy] a functional no-man’s-land between smartphones and laptops,” writes Marshall Honorof of Tom’s Guide. “An Android tablet does essentially the same thing as those two devices, but it does them much worse.”
Philips N7506 Top the Headphone/Earbud Models That Have Lost Most Value Since Release
When it comes to headphones and earbuds, the Philips brand claims the top three models in our rankings of the gadgets that have lost the most value over time, with the N7506 Headphones taking the overall top spot (a 63.92% loss in value since 2022). Scoring a fairly poor average score of 2.5 out of 5 on Amazon, could it be that they’re just not a promising pair to invest in at all, let alone second-hand?
One reviewer writes of the drop in quality over time: “The headphones become defective after few months of use such as random music interruptions like clicks, blips and interference.” Another reviewer laments: “I had these for about seven months, used mostly for calls for work until one day they just died and never came back to life … now they are super cheap [to buy] and I know why.”
Earbud products (with in-ear buds) take up other spots in our rankings, including the JVC Gumy Mini True Wireless Earbuds (a 50.58% drop in value since 2022). When new earbuds can be bought inexpensively, it could be that second-hand in-ear buds just aren’t a worthwhile investment, given the health problems that can arise from the bacteria found in used audio gear.
Check out our interactive HTML table below for a full breakdown of the smartphone, tablet and headphone models that have depreciated the most in value over time.
Why Reselling or Recycling Tech Is Better Than Trashing It
Having just unboxed a new smartphone, tablet or pair of headphones, you may think nothing of throwing out an old gadget you have no need for — but think again. E-waste is a huge problem for the environment, with consumers generating about 50 million tons of it each year, an amount equivalent to throwing out 1,000 laptops every second.
Recycling your tech is always a great way of keeping your gadgets from the landfill. You can also help bridge the “digital divide” — the lack of tech ownership in lower-income communities — by giving your items to charities that can refurbish them and give them away to those in need.
If you don’t want to sell your tech on websites like Craigslist or online community marketplaces, there are plenty of services that will buy your gadgets back from you. Even if a gadget no longer works properly, you could try selling on eBay, where broken phones and tablets are often sold for parts or for fixing and reselling.
How We Did It
To discover the consumer tech brands and products that lose the most value over time, we considered 29 leading consumer tech brands that produce smartphones, earbud headphones, tablets and smartwatches.
We retrieved information on more than 1,000 tech products listed on Amazon U.S. and UK in ‘used’ condition. Next, we compared their original RRP (USD) when brand new vs. their standardized listed price in the ‘used: like new’ condition.
For each product, we then calculated their average value change (%) per year since the year they were released.
For any products released in the same year within the same product line (e.g., iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max), we selected the product in that year’s line with the largest yearly change in value between new and used condition.
Brands were ranked based on the average change (%) in value per year of all of their listed products that contained available prices on Amazon to compare. As such, this data is only representative of the products and prices that were available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk at the time of research.
The analysis of this data is correct as of September 2023.
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5. Wikipedia. (2023). Headphones History. wikipedia.org
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