Japan opts for second-hand iPhones, as yen falls

STORY: Japanese shoppers have always eagerly shelled out for the latest gadgets, but that could be changing.

A tumbling yen has sent the cost of some imports soaring, and put new iPhones out of reach for some.

It’s sparked a growing second-hand trade in one of Apple’s major markets.

In July, the tech giant hiked the price of the entry-level iPhone 13 by nearly a fifth.

The basic iPhone 14 later debuted at 20% more than the iPhone 13 did, even as the U.S. price stayed flat at $799.

Office worker Sougaku Hou now finds he cannot justify spending the equivalent of $1,000 or more:

"I think new iPhones are too expensive WHITE FLASH For a gadget that we will use for two to three years before changing, I think it's too expensive."

The yen’s fall to a 32-year low against the dollar has squeezed consumers and accelerated a broader spending shift in the word's third-largest economy.

Industry-watchers say Japan's shoppers have become more open to buying secondhand, thanks in part to the rise of online auction sites.

Daisuke Inoue is chief of second-hand store Belong.

He says that average sales tripled once Apple raised its prices, and still have room to grow:

"According to various data regarding the second-hand smartphone market in Japan, the market penetration rate is estimated at around 5%. In the United States, on the other hand, about 20% of people are using second-hand smartphones, according to the same data. So, based on a simple calculation, it is a very attractive market with room for growth by four to five times."

Sales of used smartphones grew nearly 15% in Japan to a record 2.1 million in the last financial year, and are forecast to reach 3.4 million by 2026.

Apple declined to comment for this story - but in a regulatory filing last month, it said Japan sales fell 9% over the year to end-September due to the yen's weakness.