A happy iPhone owner
A happy iPhone owner
iPhones are worth more
Background informationSmartphone

iPhones are worth more

Oliver Herren
Zurich, on 14.05.2020
Translation: Eva Francis

The purchase costs of an iPhone might be above average, many customers buy one anyway. Apple devices are particularly popular in Switzerland. Do they hold their value in the long run?

After I bought an iPhone 11 a few months ago and wrote an article about it, the emotional reactions made me realise how strongly some of our customers identify with their mobile phone. Some love Apple's iPhones, others don't. The brand polarises. I began to wonder whether the iPhone is worth its price. Let's take a look at the economic facts and figures.

Every third person in Switzerland owns an iPhone

First off, I wanted to find out how great Apple's supremacy in Switzerland actually is. A representative survey carried out by the comparison service Moneyland shows that four out of ten people in Switzerland own an iPhone.

Representative survey (for the total population aged 18 to 74) by moneyland.ch and Ipsos, 2019.
Representative survey (for the total population aged 18 to 74) by moneyland.ch and Ipsos, 2019.
https://www.moneyland.ch/en/smartphone-survey-switzerland-2019

Apple’s also the top dog among our customers, but not by as far as Moneyland’s survey revealed. Around a third of all devices that are sold on digitec are iPhones.

How quickly do smartphones depreciate?

Let’s get back to my original question: are the high prices for iPhones justified? Here’s the price development of the top five smartphone manufacturers.

Price development over the first year in percentage
Price development over the first year in percentage
Price development over the first two years in percentage
Price development over the first two years in percentage

Our figures show that the price of iPhones depreciates the slowest: 365 days after the launch of the respective series, a new iPhone costs 15% less on average. With about one third, Huawei devices show the largest loss in value.

Our figures show that the price of iPhones depreciates the slowest.

What’s interesting is that the difference increases over time. I was also surprised to see that Google’s smartphones show a depreciation of 50% after two years. Having said that, the Google Pixel I had before the iPhone did look pretty worn out after a short time. Why? Well, I never use a cover and the quality of the device wasn’t great. My iPhone is visibly more durable.

So the iPhone seems to be the best investment when it comes to owning a smartphone that holds its value for as long as possible. Buying an iPhone means you’re buying a valuable device that’s very likely to stay valuable.

What if you want to trade in your phone?

I checked the sales prices on our resale platform as a reference. We’ve only been offering this service for a short while, so the numbers don’t go as far back as two years.

Sales prices on our resale platform
Sales prices on our resale platform

With an average of CHF 508.–, iPhones again show the highest resale price, even if the difference isn’t as large as with the price development. In percentage terms, customers get the best resale deal with Xiaomi devices. However, these phones are sold after an average of 182 days, while iPhones are sold after 453 days.

iPhones aren’t only used longer, they also resell at a higher price than devices by other manufacturers.

Our secondhand offers also include a noticeable number of iPhones. Does this mean iPhones are also more sustainable than other devices? A study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology seems to have reached this conclusion. Science Daily has released a free summary.

By the way, if you want to turn your old phone into cash and get an iPhone, just click here.

Exemplary sample from 13 May 2020

I can still buy a new iPhone 7 today – a product that was released as far back as September 2016. After almost four years, the models are still available. This is remarkable, considering how fast paced the smartphone market is. I based my sample on the oldest device of a manufacturer that's still available on our shop today. Here are the release dates of the according phones:

  • Samsung: February 2018
  • Huawei: April 2018
  • Xiaomi: May 2018
  • Google: May 2019
iPhone 7 (32 GB, Black, 4.70 ", Single SIM, 12 Mpx, 4G)
Apple iPhone 7 (32 GB, Black, 4.70 ", Single SIM, 12 Mpx, 4G)
169
Galaxy A8 2018 EU (32 GB, Black, 5.60 ", Dual SIM + SD, 16 Mpx, 4G)
Samsung Galaxy A8 2018 EU (32 GB, Black, 5.60 ", Dual SIM + SD, 16 Mpx, 4G)
10
P20 (128 GB, Midnight Blue, 5.80 ", Dual SIM, 12 Mpx, 4G)
Huawei P20 (128 GB, Midnight Blue, 5.80 ", Dual SIM, 12 Mpx, 4G)
22
Mi Mix 2S (64 GB, White, 5.99 ", Dual SIM, 12 Mpx, 4G)
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (64 GB, White, 5.99 ", Dual SIM, 12 Mpx, 4G)
9
Pixel 3a (64 GB, Just Black, 5.60 ", Single SIM, 12.20 Mpx, 4G)
Google Pixel 3a (64 GB, Just Black, 5.60 ", Single SIM, 12.20 Mpx, 4G)
79

The iPhone 7 in the example cost CHF 759.– in 2016 and is still ordered today for CHF 319.–. The value retention over this long period is remarkable.

Might the new iPhone SE affect value retention?

Apple has just launched the new Apple SE models. Launching an entry-level series is a dangerous balancing act: there's a risk that older devices will fall short in comparison and lose in value. In the worst case, this has a negative impact on the price for a new iPhone 12. The most affordable devices in the new SE series cost less than the older iPhone 8 series, but have the same form factor and newer hardware. It would be interesting to find out why customers would rather pay more for an iPhone 8 than get an iPhone SE – or whether the SE series will cause the older models to diminish in value faster.

Were you also wondering what SE stands for? The answer is «Special Edition». So the correct name would actually be iPhone 8 SE with SE meaning «Second Edition».

Verdict

If you trust that the market is capable of regulating product prices in a reasonable way, the iPhone wins by a mile. It has high purchase costs initially and holds its value better than other smartphones.

I wasn’t an Apple customer for a long time. Not that I had anything against the brand – they’ve been producing beautiful products for a long time – but I just ended up buying other products.

However, I’m now even more convinced that getting the iPhone 11 Pro Max was the right choice. The selection of focal lengths really is handy when you’re taking pictures.

A few fun facts

  • Our customers pay the highest average price for Google phones, not for Apple devices. The average price is CHF 897.– for Apple phones and CHF 947.– for Google phones.
  • People living in Zug buy most iPhones proportionately.
  • People living in Glarus buy most golden iPhones...for whatever reason.

112 people like this article


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Cool: Creating interfaces between the real world and the world of pure information. Not cool: Driving by car to the mall to shop. My life happens online, the information age is where I feel at home.


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