How Have Average Mobile Phone Prices Changed Over Time?

The UK's cost of living crisis has hit 'real' disposable incomes. And it's hit them hard. Leftover cash once living costs have been covered has been squeezed - with inflation reaching a 41-year high of 11.1% in November 2022.

For some, it's meant putting plans to purchase the latest tech on hold. But this hasn't been the case for everyone, with gadget lovers turning in their old, unwanted devices to raise the cash for upgrades, or going direct to the used and refurbished mobile phone market for the newest models.

With getting the best deal and saving money being such a current priority for UK households, it got the team at 4gadgets thinking - how much has the average smartphone price changed over the past 15 years? How well do they hold their value as an investment? And how long should you hold onto them before you sell?

We've crunched the numbers to create our very first Smartphone Index.

What is the 4gadgets Smartphone Index?

The 4gadgets Smartphone Index is designed to show the true value of the tech that’s become so integral to our daily lives.

It analyses:

  • the launch prices of Apple and Samsung's most popular models
  • how much they'd cost if they launched in 2023
  • what you could expect to recoup if you sold them in today's market
  • how much mobile phone prices have risen relative to average UK salaries

With movie streaming, mobile gaming and phone photography all being part and parcel of the modern smartphone experience, we've also compared the average cost of mobile phones against the cost of:

  • cameras
  • games consoles
  • laptops

We’ve also compared mobile phone prices against the average cost of a loaf of bread, train tickets, cars and houses in the UK – to give you that bigger picture view of just how much the cost of smartphones has changed since hitting the mainstream.

The Value of Old Mobile Phones – Which Holds Its Value Best?

Digging into data from 2018 to 2022, we found:

  • Apple iPhone models launched in these years have depreciated on average by 53% - current 2023 value vs. against the launch day price
  • Samsung mobile phone models launched in the same period depreciated on average by almost 70% - current 2023 value vs. against the launch day price

When comparing four of the last five year's models, Samsung's lost resale value by a greater amount than Apple's:

  • 2018 was the exception, but by the smallest of margins
  • when looking at 2023 resale values, the Samsung Galaxy S9 has depreciated by 80% against its launch price
  • that year's Apple model, the iPhone XS, has depreciated by 80.2% against its launch price

The greatest difference in loss of second-hand value between the two brands occurred with 2021's models:

  • the iPhone 13 has fallen in value by 38% when comparing its 2023 value against its launch day price ticket
  • the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G has fallen by nearly 70%

When is the Best Time to Sell My Phone?

With the tech world moving at such lightning speed, our main finding didn't come as too much of a surprise: the longer you keep hold of your mobile phone, the more value it loses over time (the original iPhone being the outlier, as a historic relic which has recently seen healthy resale values).

Despite being relatively new, 2022's iPhone 14 and Samsung's Galaxy S22+ models have already lost nearly 25% and 40% respectively of their value against the original launch day price.

So, if you're looking to sell or trade in, the second year of owning the device is the best time - that way you'll maximise the amount you can get to put towards that latest, awe-inspiring piece of tech.

Trade in your old tech for instant cash with 4gadgets. We'll pay you a fair price for your old device - no matter what condition it's in. You'll get money you can put towards a newer model.

Find out how much your old mobile phone could be worth over on the trade-in mobile phones section of our site today!