Assurant reported that the average value of a traded-in iPhone in 2021 was up 17% from the year before. | Franz12/Shutterstock

Consumers are waiting longer to trade in old phones, but rising values meant that 2021 saw the highest amount of money Assurant has ever recorded going back to consumers, according to an annual report.

Assurant is a publicly traded insurance and warranty company that in 2020 bought reverse logistics company Hyla Mobile for $325 million. Assurant’s annual phone trade-in report covers business activities by Hyla, which runs consumer phone trade-in programs for retailers, brand owners and wireless carriers.

The report for 2021 found that, for another year, the average age of devices traded-in increased. Apple iPhones are averaging 3.35 years, up from 3.27 years in 2020, and Android smartphones average 2.97 years, an increase from 2.79 years in 2020.

A press release noted that “outside of the annual trends just noted, we did see a dip in the average age of devices at turn in during 4Q, as we normally do in the final quarter of the year.”

The average age of traded-in iPhones decreased from 3.39 years in the third quarter to 3.36 years in the fourth, while Android smartphones decreased from 3.08 years to 2.96 years. Apple tends to release new iPhone versions in mid-September.

The press release said the data “reflect the great surge of activity we have witnessed this year within the mobile trade-in and upgrade programs.”

In the fourth quarter, the report found, about $1 billion went to U.S. customers through trade-in and buyback programs, which is a $298 million increase from the previous quarter. It’s the highest amount Assurant’s seen for a single quarter, the press release said.

Overall, 2021 also marked the highest annual numbers, as $3 billion went back to customers via trade-in and buy-back promotions.

That’s partially because the average trade-in values rose in 2021. In 2020, the average trade-in value of an iPhone was $169.85. In 2021, it jumped 17% to $199.13. The average trade-in value for an Android smartphone in 2021 was $98.31, which was only $3 more than the previous year.

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