South Africans are sitting on R1 billion in unused smartphones – Gumtree

Forget the illicit cigarette trade or black market bootlegging, the smart (and legal) way to make cash this Spring-clean season is to list last season’s smartphone on an online classifieds’ site such as Gumtree.

The phone that’s been relegated to the bottom desk drawer or is being used as a glorified bookend at your makeshift home office could quickly be converted into the extra cash you need.

A lucrative second hand smartphone market

Estelle Nagel, Brand Marketing Manager at Gumtree says, “According to ICASA’s State of the ICT Sector report, South Africa’s smartphone penetration increased from 81.7% in 2018 to 91.2% in 2019. Predictions are on track for our market to exceed the 100% threshold by mid-2021.”

“Many people upgrade their smartphones if on contract, or buy a new one to keep up with the latest technology or to get the most updated phone features. While some might give their perfectly decent old phone away, there are a lot who don’t do anything with them. There is a lucrative second hand phone market, so we advise you try and sell them instead.”

Which smartphones are hot property? currently has 13,292 cell phones listed for sale, countrywide. This is segmented by brand with the bulk of those listings being hardware from the country’s three most popular smartphone manufacturers: Samsung (4,438 phones), Apple (4,377 iPhones) and Huawei (2,377 phones).

Nagel says, “Our research into phone pricing on Gumtree showed that that R4,500.00 is the median value for a listing. Multiply this by the current number of live smartphone listings reveals a figure just shy of R60m, suggesting that South Africans are sitting on an estimated R940m worth of listable, sellable, pre-loved handsets.”

Western Cape residents have over 4,600 phones listed on Gumtree at the moment, and seem to be the most comfortable with listing their previously loved mobile phones online. Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal phone sellers are hot on their digital heels, while the Eastern Cape is starting to dip its toe in the lucrative second hand smartphone space.

“Our economy is depressed and in recession due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone could use some extra cash in hand to support monthly expenses. There’s no easier way to generate some extra household income than by actively finding and parting with a spare smartphone – or any other consumer technology – that’s gathering dust, in exchange for cash,” she says.

“During a pandemic, we are exposed to more ‘get rich quick’ schemes than ever and our Instagram handles are bombarded by forex traders and Bitcoin miners daily. Nobody needs to take risks with those when they’ve got Space Grey, tempered glass smartphones that don’t require smelting or server space to make money – spending a few minutes uploading a pic and adding some creative copy about it can earn some quick, honest cash in the process.”

Travelstart Domestic

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