Apple selling used iPhones in India: the sense and nonsense of the whole thing

Apple trying to sell used iPhones in India
Apple trying to sell used iPhones in India

According to the news doing the rounds on the Internet, for the past couple of years Apple has been trying to sell (dump) old line of iPhones in India. There is a clear market for the iPhones but the latest iPhones are very expensive. Besides, Apple wasn’t even selling its line of iPhones and iPads directly in India up till now. It’s only recently the company has realized the potential of the Indian market, grudgingly or whatever.

Again, even a mediocre iPhone for the Indian market is expensive. I would rather purchase a decent, higher-end Android smartphone than invest money in a highly restrictive iPhone and that too of lower-end.

Having said that, there is a fad value attached to having an iPhone. This might be because celebrities and people on the higher rungs of society are often seen carrying iPhones. So even if people have to buy used iPhones, they are fine with that. Using an iPhone means using an expensive phone and who is going to investigate whether you are using a used iPhone or an iPhone that you purchased first-hand a few years ago?

Naturally the other smartphone companies are protesting. Whether you like it or not, once Apple starts selling used iPhones in India there will be a big market ready for it. As I mentioned above, there is a fad value attached to iPhones and people will buy them even if they have to be content with used devices and comparatively older iPhones.

So yes, when Apple starts selling used iPhones in India the other smartphone companies are going to feel the pinch even if it is in a small way.

The Indian government doesn’t seem to be very eager to allow Apple to sell used iPhones in the country and in fact, it will be the first mainstream smartphone company to be able to sell used smartphones if at all it is allowed. Since in the past 2 years it has twice approached the Indian government, it seems that it is facing resistance from the government.

Many companies claim that this is against the spirit of “Make in India”. They say, when you are encouraging manufacturers to create world-class products within India, how can you allow a foreign company to dump older phones into the market? If the government allows Apple to sell used iPhones in India it will open the floodgates to the country becoming an electronic wasteland where companies from advanced countries will dump used products to sell them to those who cannot purchase expensive devices but would like to be seen using expensive products. Now, in a country where indigenous companies are not manufacturing smartphones this may make sense but in a country like India where there are many electronics companies manufacturing and marketing good quality smartphones, this won’t be a good move.

Should Apple be allowed to sell used iPhones in India? No, because

  • The market will be flooded with mediocre, older devices
  • Innovative technologies will be killed
  • A foreign company will be getting an unfair advantage over indigenous companies
  • It will encourage more companies to dump older technologies into the country
  • It will also discourage international companies from innovating because they will be making money off obsolete technology

Markets in the US and in China are slowing down and there is a big boom in the demand for quality smartphones in India. India represents the world’s 2nd largest mobile population.

The idea of Apple selling used iPhones in India has posed obvious unrest among the electronics manufacturing industry that they have come together and formed a representative body to lobby against Apple’s overtures.

I have 2 things to say regarding this: Apple shouldn’t be allowed to sell used iPhones in India – it should come up with innovative financing strategies so that people can purchase new iPhones without having to shell out exorbitant amounts of money. The Indian manufacturers on the other hand focus on “lobbying” and demand privileges against “foreign companies trying to dump their ware in India” – they should focus on manufacturing world class smartphones so that people will anyway purchase their smartphones instead of going for inferior, used iPhones.

About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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