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European demand for refurbished smartphones grows in 2023

23 Feb 2024Protecting the Planet
6 minute read

European demand for refurbished smartphones grows in 2023 as half of consumers consider purchasing a refurbished smartphone

23 February 2024 - Europeans are more willing than ever to consider purchasing a refurbished smartphone, the 6th edition of the Recommerce© Barometer in partnership with Vodafone revealed during Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona.

In 2023, the worldwide market for second-hand smartphones expanded to 309 million units and is expected to reach more than 431 million units by 2027[1], even amidst inflationary pressures from 2022.

More than 43% of Europeans have already owned a second-hand smartphone, compared to 42% last year, showing that this remains a key point for mobile customers. Despite cost-of-living pressures for consumers, the research suggested that 35% of Europeans are intending to renew their current smartphone in the coming year – with refurbished devices set to account for 27 million devices sold. In total, more than 52% of Europeans declared they are willing to buy a refurbished smartphone in the future.

The findings were unveiled in the sixth edition of the Recommerce© Barometer, an annual analysis of consumer trends towards refurbished smartphones at retail published by European device refurbishment leader Recommerce©,in partnership with Vodafone, the largest pan-European and African telecoms company.

Conducted by KANTAR, the study tracked sentiment across EU consumers spanning twelve major European countries[2], including for the first time Ireland, and Portugal.

Consumer demand for professionally refurbished devices is also growing. More than 60% of surveyed consumers in markets like Romania and Spain say they intend to buy a refurbished device. In established markets such France, refurbished smartphones already represent up to 15% of the total retail market share[3], and more than 35% of people have already bought a refurbished smartphone.

Nick Dutch, Vodafone Global Head of Device Lifecycle Services said: “Customers are now considering refurbished devices more than ever, so that they can get a great value phone that is better for the planet than buying a new one. Buying a refurbished phone from Vodafone helps customers get the phone they want for less with added peace of mind.”

Augustin Becquet, CEO of Recommerce© declared: “We are at the forefront of this shift in consumer behaviour, offering high-quality, refurbished devices that help make a significant environmental impact. Our partnership with Vodafone is a testament to our shared vision of a sustainable future, where technology serves as a catalyst for positive change.”

Consumer demand for refurbished phones grows during cost-of-living challenges

With some new premium smartphone models costing more than €1,000 at retail, European consumers continued to cite affordability (67%) as their primary reason for choosing a refurbished device at retail. This trend was most prevalent in Portugal, France, and Romania (more than 70%)

Environmental reasons were the second biggest driver towards purchasing refurbished smartphones (39%), suggesting consumer appreciation for the benefits of refurbished devices compared to buying new.

Purchasing a refurbished smartphone saves around 50 Kg CO2e – 20% or less than the equivalent newly manufactured smartphone – and removes the need to extract 164 Kg of raw materials.[4]

Other reasons included warranty assurance (27%), suggesting growing confidence in purchasing refurbished devices through trusted brands, buying higher end-model (31%) and benefit from after-sale service (18%).

To ensure consumer confidence, Vodafone in partnership with Recommerce© only offers high-quality refurbished handsets with a 24-month warranty. Every refurbished smartphone sold by Vodafone has received a visual and diagnostic check to ensure components such as the screen, battery and camera are fully functional. Every phone has also been deep cleaned and securely data wiped.

In addition to cost savings and flexibility, Vodafone’s new refurbished range alongside its device trade-in platform supports the company’s commitment to promoting a circular economy for devices.

Trading in smartphones: a growing trend among EU consumers

Recommerce© also captures trade-in behaviours for the sixth edition of the Barometer, reflecting the company’s expertise in trade-in since 2009 and the partnership launched with Vodafone in 2022. Although some consumers indicated they would continue to keep their old smartphones in case of need (38%), a growing number of consumers (35%) across all European markets expressed interest in trading in or selling their current mobile for subsequent refurbishment and resale, compared to 28% for their previous handset, showing a growing habit across Europe with similar results per country surveyed.


[1] IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027

[2] Online survey conducted from 11-15 January 2024, among 7750 individuals in 12 countries: France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, and Ireland, aged 16 to 65 years old, representative of individuals living in each country. To guarantee the representativeness of the sample, the weight of the mobile operator was adjusted using the framing data available from Kantar.

[3] ARCEP annual analysis on sustainable digital world :

[4] Source is a lifecycle assessment study (Erwann Fangeat, ADEME, et al, Assessment of the environmental impact of a set of refurbished products – Final Report (2022)), which found that a refurbished phone used for 2 years creates 24.6kg CO2e less carbon emissions per year when compared to a new phone used for 3 years (according to the study results shown on page 64). Over the 2-year period of use of the refurbished phone, this avoids around 50kg CO2e of carbon emissions. The study found that a refurbished phone has an 87% lower contribution to climate change (or ‘GWP’) compared to a new phone. The study also found that buying and using a refurbished phone instead of a new phone requires the extraction of 76.9kg less raw materials (page 64).

For the full study, see

About Recommerce©

RECOMMERCE GROUP is Europe's pioneer in the refurbishment of high-tech products, particularly smartphones. Founded in 2009, Recommerce buys used equipment, offers software and application trade-in solutions to retailers, individuals and companies, and refurbishes and resells reconditioned equipment, including smartphones and games consoles. The company distributes its refurbished products under the "Recommerce©" brand name, and sells them on as well as in many European countries via distributors and telecom operators. As part of its commitment to the circular and responsible economy, the company promotes the recovery and reuse of equipment through the application of artificial intelligence technologies applied to the industrial sector.

Founded by Pierre-Etienne Roinat, Benoit Varin, Cédric Maucourt and Antoine Jeanjean, Recommerce has become one of Europe's leaders in the refurbishment and resale of high-tech products. Recommerce is part of the Next 40 promotion 2020 and the French Tech 120 promotion 2021 and 2022, is certified ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 27001 by DNV and is labelled RecQ - ReConditionnement de Qualité, the first European label certifying the quality of the end product by DEKRA Certification, as well as rated Gold by Ecovadis for its CSR policy.

For further information:

About Vodafone

Vodafone is the largest pan-European and African telecoms company. We provide mobile and fixed services to over 300 million customers in 17 countries, partner with mobile networks in 45 more and have one of the world’s largest IoT platforms. In Africa, our financial technology businesses serve more than 76 million customers across eight countries – managing more transactions than any other provider. Our purpose is to connect for a better future by using technology to improve lives, businesses and help progress inclusive sustainable societies. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact to reach net zero emissions by 2040.

For more information, please visit, follow us on X (formerly Twitter) at @VodafoneGroup or connect with us on LinkedIn at

  • Protecting the Planet
  • Circular economy 
  • Digital for Green
  • Environment
  • Sustainability
  • MWC

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