Depreciation of smartphones

I noticed this month, my cell phone’s battery is dying. I don’t have the statistics of my battery cycling, but it makes sense. Although I’ve been cautious to preserve battery life, it’s been 2 years since I bought my phone. Only naturally I need a replacement now. That got me thinking, should I just buy a phone that I can throw away every year?

The phone I have right now is about $500 phone. It’ll probably last until the end of this year. So roughly, $200 depreciation for every year. So how about I buy a phone with this $200 and not bother when the phone dies. Cheap phones are great nowadays. Sure, occasionally they give you a headache. But if you are just checking your emails and receiving text, they are more than enough. Or, how about buying a $400 phone for 2 years. So the yearly cost is the same, but you get so much more. Buy an OnePlus phone and I don’t think you’ll be missing much. You have everything you could possibly need. Third option bit more luxurious. How about you buy a phone as soon as it comes out. Then keep watching the market. As soon as the second-hand market value goes below a threshold, you sell it. That way, you get the best of both world, with some risk. Your phone value may go to zero. You may break it, or lose it. All options seem like a good one. So I tried to post a poll on Facebook. Here is the result,

Option 1. Buy a $400 phone, use for 2+ years, throw away
8 votes

Option 2. Buy a $200 phone, use for 1+ year, throw away
9 votes

Option 3. Buy an $800 phone, use for 1 year, try to sell for $600
3 votes


total 8+9+3+8 =28 votes

32% of people for option 2
29% of people chose option 1
10% of people chose option 3
29% of people would do something different.

In short, most people will buy the cheapest phone they can find. Rest will buy a sensible phone and hold on as long as possible.

Makes sense. I checked the online public data on smartphone value depreciation. iPhones do depreciate, but a lot slower compared to Androids. Android phone loses a large chunk of their value as soon as you unbox.

I looked at the amazon price history. Note8 is selling for 50% of their original value. Note10 lite has already lost 40% of its value in 6 months. Some phones are refurbished. Also, comes with no warranty.

Here’s what I think,
This time, I’ll fix my phone for $100. A new battery should keep the phone running for 2+ years. When the phone dies, I’ll buy something like Note 10 lite. A phone which is cutting edge, but already selling for less in the refurbished market. Or buy a phone like Note 8. A 2-year-old model but great features and low price.