Only a third of smartphones in Switzerland are reused

Smartphone becoming more and more indispensable

Not owning a smartphone is becoming a rarity in Switzerland. Smartphones are growing into a multifunctional toolkit for everything in life and moving forward they will increasingly become an indispensable assistant. Users could do better when it comes to reusing their old device.

The findings from the Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2018 show that 92% of all adults in Switzerland own at least one smartphone. Similar trends are observed abroad and globally.

In the past, the key driver of smartphone sales growth was the transition from classic cell phones to smartphones. But now, things have changed. The number of people not owning a smartphone but likely to buy one is too small to noticeable influence business revenues.

Future profits might be achieved through new smartphone appliances that make life and work easier. Some smartphone applications could become indispensable tools in many professions. In particular, augmented reality (AR) applications hold a significant potential that will be unveiled when the 5G standard comes into force.

As new smartphones are conquering Switzerland, what do consumers do with their old device? 17% give it to friends or relatives, and even more users (37%) keep it in a drawer, ‘just-in-case’. A reason for this high percentage might be the increasingly expensive prices of new devices that are easily surpassing 1,000 Swiss francs. While many consumers in Switzerland like to purchase the latest and best device, they also find it comforting to have a backup option if their new phone is damaged.

Many old devices are re-used

Another 17% of the respondents in Switzerland report selling their old phone, and 9% report purchasing a used phone. The second-hand market for smartphones is growing and is also becoming a relevant business opportunity.

Some customers are not ready to spend over 1,000 Swiss francs for a new smartphone or they prefer to buy a used device for environmental reasons. A few providers in Switzerland are starting to enjoy some success offering second-hand phones that have been cleaned and repaired, and are often sold with a guaranty.

Roger Lay, Director Mobile Enterprise at Deloitte Digital


The number of recycled devices in Switzerland is still quite low: only 6% of the respondents recycle their device for free, returning it back to their mobile network operator or a consumer electronics shop. In comparison, 10% of the respondents in the UK recycle their phone.

More alarming, 7% of the Swiss respondents simply throw away their old phone after buying a new one. Over 80,000 mobile phones end up being incinerated as garbage every year in Switzerland. In view of the increasing shortages of many raw materials used to make smartphones, throwing away an old device is highly problematic.

Not only from an environmental perspective, but also economically it would make more sense to re-use a device. The monetary incentive and a growing environmental consciousness could therefore motivate more Swiss consumers to recycle or resell their phones.

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