Stack of iPhone Boxes, A Look at 2020’s Most Popular Used Cell Phones

In the secondhand market, iPhones consistently retain their value better than their Android competitors. We believe that the main reason for this is that the Apple brand is a status symbol in many countries, so many consumers would prefer an older Apple model to a newer Android model. Beyond this, it is often easier to repair used iPhones due to the ubiquity of parts versus Android devices. In addition, Apple has the advantage of being able to support its products for longer periods due to the very tight control that the company maintains over its operating system. Buyers feel comfortable spending more on used Apple phones because they can enjoy all of the newest updates and features even if their phones are several years old. 

This brings us to the question of which used iPhones are being purchased by used phone retailers and wholesalers around the world—and what’s the most popular model? We’ll cover the specific models that are enduring as high-volume sellers in the resale market. 

The Used Apple Phones with the Highest Demand in the Resale Market in 2020

The iPhone 11

When asking “Is the iPhone 11 popular?” the answer is a resounding yes. Released in September of 2019, the iPhone 11 is believed to have sold somewhere around 12 million units. New versions of the iPhone 11 retailed for $1,100 in 2019. 

But just how popular is the iPhone 11? One indication of the phone’s high-demand status is that its sales showed an improvement of around 15% over the iPhone XR that preceded it.

Why is the iPhone 11 so popular, though? Apple customers always prize a new Apple model. The iPhone 11 is highly desired for its faster speed and improved battery life. Apple devotees have noted that the camera on this phone is a serious upgrade from previous models, as it has an ultra-wide camera, exceptional video camera, and night mode. It appeals to the “everyday” user because it lacks any big, flashy upgrades that would confuse new iPhone users or those who are just upgrading from seriously older versions.

It’s sustained a strong presence in the secondhand market because it represents a good price for what is essentially the latest Apple tech prior to the 5G rollout. Used iPhone 11 units are particularly popular in South America and the Middle East. This model averages around $650 on the used market. 

The iPhone 7

While we just mentioned Apple users get excited about “new and improved,” “newest” doesn’t always equate with the highest demand in some markets. This is evident in the popularity of the used iPhone 7 in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Released back in 2016, this model’s features have remained current enough to keep the phone desirable in the secondhand market much longer than the typical window of two to three years following release. The iPhone 7 is a very popular choice among buyers who want low-end phones. In fact, the lingering demand for the iPhone 7 is so strong that this model has actually started to become scarce among resellers looking to bulk up their inventories. An iPhone 7 typically goes for just $150 on the secondhand market today.

Why is the iPhone 7 so popular? Many users are drawn to the big changes that were ushered in with this design. Notably, the iPhone 7 is where Apple switched to pressure sensors and haptic vibration instead of the traditional home button. Another big change that came with this model was the removal of the headphone jack. There’s also a much larger battery in this model compared to its predecessor. Let’s not forget that Apple also designed this to be a water-resistant phone. Ultimately, the iPhone 7 is a strong choice for people who want to enjoy the look and feel of new tech without necessarily paying for it in the latest model.

The iPhone X

The iPhone X is an interesting case because it has universal appeal and demand isn’t necessarily tied to a specific geographic location. Retailing at $999 when it was released in November 2017, the iPhone X had the most expensive price at launch up until that point. It sells today for around $400 on the secondhand market. This is a model that appeals to the middle demographic of buyers seeking a balance between a cutting-edge phone and an economical purchase.

How popular is the iPhone X? Apple reportedly sold 16 million units of the iPhone X by Q1 of 2018. Why is the iPhone X so popular? Generally, this was viewed as the rebooted iPhone the world had been waiting for. This model took the iPhone 7’s switch to a new home button to a new level by doing away with a physical home button completely. Of course, the biggest selling point on the iPhone X may be its screen: Long and elegant, the 5.8-inch OLED display on the iPhone X offers a crisp, sharp view that is considered by most insiders and reviewers to be better than anything that came before it.

What Is the Best Used Cell Phone 2020 Buyers Are Choosing to Buy?

Based on demand trends, buyers are willing to go back a few generations in the Apple catalog to strike a balance between getting the features they want at a price that’s reasonable for their wallets. We can assume that the iPhone 11 will retain its popularity for quite some time after a new 5G rollout occurs because it will be viewed as the best of its kind indefinitely among users who aren’t making the early leap to 5G. There should be enough devices to meet demand, as the early adopters who were eager to get their hands on the iPhone 11 will be every bit as eager to jump to the next iPhone if it is equipped with 5G capabilities like nearly everyone in the industry is expecting.

The last few months of 2020 are shaping up to be interesting and unpredictable for the mobile industry. Everything from the imminent rise of 5G to mergers among major carriers are showing us that anything is possible for 2021. As a result, one of the ways to gauge where customer mindset is during the last quarter of the year is to take a look at the bestselling used devices for 2020. Expect to see the iPhone 11 continue to climb in favor. We may continue to see steady demand for the iPhone 7 if economic uncertainties pile on in the months ahead. The scarcity of the iPhone 7 today showcases that consumers still prefer the familiarity and quality of an Apple device over a newer “budget” phone when push comes to shove. Factors like early reviews of the iPhone 12 and pre-sale orders will also be important for seeing what trade-in traffic will look like during the next six months.


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