The end of the upgrade? How O2 is adapting to a more circular mobile market



31 May, 2016


A new mobile market is beginning to emerge –  based not on pushing faster upgrade cycles, but on capturing the value that exists in older devices. It is this circular market that is poised to grow: resale is estimated to grow four to five times faster than the growth in the overall smartphone market in 2016.

This report looks at O2’s experience. It is based on comprehensive analysis of the lifetimes of the mobile phones used by eight million of their customers, and provides new evidence that customers want to use phones for longer.

These changes are good news for the environment. Smart devices have a sizeable carbon footprint, and extending their lifetime can cut yearly emissions substantially: by keeping their phones for longer, O2’s ‘Sim Only’ customers cut their CO2 footprint by 44% on average compared to the typical 1.8 year upgrade cycle.

We provide recommendations for what companies can do to scale up schemes similar to O2’s, and what governments can do to help these circular models thrive.


Emily Coats
Dustin Benton



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