Refurb Market on the Rise, Thanks to Expensive Cost of New Smartphones

The refurb market in Kenya is experiencing a significant shift as people increasingly opt for used or refurbished smartphones instead of new ones. This growing trend has resulted in the emergence of online shops dedicated to refurbished phones, catering to the rising demand. You will now see very many Instagram and TikTok accounts dedicated to sales of refurbs with quick daily deals that often run out. These are real devices going to real people hands, people who in other circumstances would probably be getting brand new smartphones.

The decision to embrace used devices in the refurb market is motivated by various factors, including the escalating cost of living, higher taxes, and currency exchange rate fluctuations. In this article, we will delve into the driving forces behind the surge in refurbished phone purchases and examine the potential implications for the smartphone industry.

Reasons for Opting to Buy Refurbished Phones

  1. Rising Cost of Living: As the cost of living continues to escalate, consumers find themselves with less disposable income to spend on purchasing new smartphones. This financial constraint leads individuals to seek cost-effective alternatives such as refurbished phones, which provide a budget-friendly option without compromising functionality.
  2. Increased Taxes: The imposition of higher taxes on imports and on smartphones has resulted in a significant increase in the retail prices of new devices. With the price hike, many consumers are opting for older used devices, which are often more affordable and serve their purpose adequately.
  3. Falling Currency Value: The depreciation of the local currency against the dollar has further inflated the prices of new smartphones in Kenya. What once cost 10,000 shillings might now be priced at 14,100 shillings due to the unfavorable exchange rate.
  4. Better Specs at Lower Prices: Refurbished phones are not only cheaper than brand new devices, but they often boast comparable or superior specifications and camera capabilities. This factor has significantly contributed to the growing popularity of refurbished phones among cost-conscious consumers who prioritize performance and features over the allure of owning the latest model.
  5. Additional Inclusions: Some refurbished phone companies provide accessories like chargers, which are no longer included in the box with new smartphones. This added value appeals to consumers who appreciate the convenience of receiving necessary accessories without having to make additional purchases.

Implications of the Rising Refurb Market

  1. Reduced Sales for Companies Selling New Phones: As the demand for refurbished phones surges, companies specializing in the sale of new smartphones are likely to experience a decline in sales. This shift in consumer preference may necessitate a reassessment of their business models, leading to potential impacts on employment and overall profitability.
  2. Reduction in Tax Revenue: The increasing adoption of refurbished phones could also result in a reduction in tax revenue collected by the government. With consumers opting for older devices instead of purchasing new ones, the taxable revenue generated from smartphone sales will inevitably decrease.
  3. E-Waste Considerations: A positive aspect of the rise in refurbished phone sales is the potential reduction in electronic waste. By extending the lifespan of existing devices, consumers contribute to a more sustainable approach to technology consumption. However, this positive impact may be offset by the influx of refurbished phones from other countries seeking to offload their surplus devices onto the Kenyan market.


Another market on the rise is the Buy Now Pay Later option for people who want a brand new device without paying for it in full. We will explore the options available in another article soon.

Would you buy a refurbished phone? Have you already bought one? How was your experience? By engaging in this discussion, we can gain a better understanding of the refurbished phone market in Kenya and the factors driving consumer choices.

One Comment

  1. I bought a refurb iphone 5 and i didnt like the experience at all…the phones battery was very weak couldnt last a day ‘s use.Am not buying a refurb soon….i could rather buy a new phone with less feature than a refurb!

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