The FutureDial Blog


By the Numbers: Automation’s Impact on Preowned Mobile Device Processing for Resale


You’ve probably noticed a bunch of used mobile phones flooding the secondhand market, right? Well, that has everyone in the reverse mobile supply chain scrambling for better ways to get these gadgets ready for a profitable resale. People are constantly swapping out their smartphones, creating this urgent need for smoother, safer, and more flexible processes to get those preowned phones ready for a second life in secondary markets. This blog article is all about how the fancy integration of top-notch software and robotics – you know, the cool automation stuff – is seriously shaking things up. We’re talking big changes in the way these preowned phones get processed, wiped, graded, and spruced up for their second life. This article sheds light on how automation is making substantial changes across the lifecycle of mobile phones.

Market Size of Used Smartphones

According to a Jan 2024 report, International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated that worldwide shipments of used smartphones, including officially refurbished and used smartphones, reached 309.4 million units within 2023. The unit growth represents a 9.5% increase over the 282.6 million units shipped in 2022. In addition, IDC projects that used smartphone shipments will reach 431.1 million units in 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8% from 2022 to 2027.

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)


2023 Shipments


Market Share

2027 Projected Shipments

2027 Projected  Market Share

2022-2027 CAGR

North America






Rest of the World












Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027, Dec 2023.


Worldwide Used Smartphone Revenues (in millions of US Dollars)


2023 Revenue


Revenue Share

2027 Projected Revenue

2027 Projected  Revenue Share

2022-2027 CAGR

North America






Rest of the World












Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027, Dec 2023.


Why the surge? Well, the new smartphone market is hitting some roadblocks with slower demand, high prices, and global economic hiccups. But on the flip side, people are loving the idea of snatching up used smartphones, even if it’s a bit tough to get your hands on them. IDC says the supply side is a bit tricky, and it’s not because people are tossing their phones to each other. Nope, a refurbished smartphone is one that’s been chucked at a collection point, gets a once-over, and if it’s deemed worthy, it goes to a processing center for a makeover before hitting the secondary market. So, it is not your typical hand-me-down situation.

Here’s the kicker though ― while new smartphones are kind of taking a hit with a 3.5% decline in 2023, the used market is flexing some serious muscles, showing almost 10% growth. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The fancy term is “refresh rates” for new phones in developed places.

People are now hanging onto their phones for over 40 months, creating a shortage for the secondary market. Trade-in programs are trying to keep things going, but they only make up part of the used inventory.

So, while the used market continues to grow, it’s at a slower rate than previously forecast due to shrinking inventory and weak consumer spending. People are now hanging onto their handsets for longer than 40 months, causing stock shortages for used phone resales. It’s noted that trade-ins only make up a portion of the total used inventory.

The lack of phones being up for grabs is cramping everyone’s style. The total secondary market is down about 2.7%, thanks to folks not swapping out their devices as often and not being too generous with the spending.

So, in a nutshell, the used smartphone scene is growing, but it’s facing some hurdles, especially with the inventory shortage. People want those secondhand gems, but it looks like they’re becoming a bit of a rare find. And in the new market, well, it’s not exactly having the time of its life with a 3.5% dip.

So, for the warehouses and processing centers which do all the intake and processing and testing and grading of these millions of used phones for later resale, the burden is on them to process and refurbish as many devices as possible, to open up more available inventory.

Many of these processing centers still do many processing tasks by hand, while others use automation in varying degrees at various touchpoints to streamline and speed up the refurbishing process.

Let’s turn our attention to how automation software, robotics and other technologies are empowering these processing centers to handle more devices, and be more profitable in preparing them for resale.

1. Processing Speed and Efficiency

The adoption of automation in preowned mobile device processing has significantly increased the speed and efficiency of operations at warehouses and mobile device refurbishing centers. Traditional methods involving manual labor were not only time-consuming but also prone to errors. Automation, on the other hand, allows for streamlined and precise execution of tasks. According to industry reports, automated systems can process mobile devices up to ten times faster than manual methods. This boost in speed directly translates to higher volumes of devices processed within a given timeframe.

Here’s why automated systems are the MVPs over old-school manual ways:

(a) Multi-Tasking Masters: Automated systems can handle a bunch of devices all at once. While a human is stuck on processing just one phone, these systems can juggle several simultaneously, making things way faster.

(b) Smart Algorithms in Turbo Mode: These systems use intelligent algorithms that are like speed demons. They zip through checking everything on a phone – how it works, how it looks, and wiping clean all the data on devices – all super quick.

(c) Non-Stop Workaholics: Unlike us humans needing breaks and downtime, these automated systems can go non-stop, 24/7. No breaks for meals or naps – they’re on a constant grind, keeping the workflow smooth and efficient.

(d) Robots Doing the Heavy Lifting: Say goodbye to manual handling. These automated systems have robots to do the heavy lifting, literally. Able to handle and process with repetitive tasks much more quickly and efficiently than human hands and eyes, they can handle much larger volumes of incoming mobile devices, hour by hour, boosting a processing facility’s Units-Per Hour (UPH) exponentially. No need for humans to fiddle around with each device, saving a ton of time.

(e) Precision on Repeat: Humans might get tired or have off days, but not these automated systems. They’re like laser-focused robots, always on point. No slacking off, no variations – just repeatable, consistent precision, reducing the chance of errors.

(f) Everyone Follows the Same Rulebook: No more human decisions messing things up. Automated systems stick to the rules and protocols, making sure every device gets the same treatment. It’s like having a universal rulebook for efficiency. This builds trust with buyers because the results are certified and audited.

(g) Speedy Data Crunching Pros: These automated systems are like wizards with data. Whether it’s grading the looks of a mobile device or testing how well it functions, they crunch through massive amounts of data in a flash, giving accurate results for actionable intellligence for the business.

(h) Scale it Up, Scale it Down: Big or small workload, these automated systems can handle it. Whether it’s a few mobile devices or a whole truckload, they can adjust to meet the demand and keep the processing humming along across multiple shifts at a processing center.

(i) Downtime? What’s That?: These systems practically have zero downtime. While humans take breaks and do maintenance, automated systems are always on duty, making sure things keep rolling without any delays.

Here at FutureDial, up to the present time our automated systems have enabled device refurbishing centers to process over 308 Million* mobile devices to prepare them for resale. That total grows each day by the thousands. We have the most automated systems deployed on the floors at processing centers and warehouses in the industry.

So, to sum it up, automated systems are the speed champs. They juggle multiple tasks, use turbo-charged algorithms, work non-stop, bring in the robots, stay consistently precise, follow the rulebook, crunch data like bosses, scale up or down as needed, and have almost no downtime. That’s why they’re rocking it and processing preowned mobile phones for resale up to 10 times faster than the old manual ways. It’s the upgrade that keeps on producing for a device renewal business operation.

2. Data Wiping Accuracy

When it comes to dealing with used mobile phones, making sure all your data is wiped clean and secure is a big deal. Thanks to powerful software and smart algorithms, the task of securely and accurately erasing data off of mobile devices has gotten a whole lot better. And let me tell you, that’s a game-changer for regular folks and businesses alike. It basically means your personal info won’t end up in the wrong hands. Here’s why it’s a smart move:

(a) Precision and Consistency: Automated systems can carry out data erasure with razor-sharp accuracy, leaving no room for mistakes. Plus, they do it consistently every single time, following the exact same process. Humans might slip up or do things a bit differently each time, but not these automated tools.

(b) Speed Demon Mode: Automated systems can wipe out data on multiple phones simultaneously, making the whole process lightning-fast. In the preowned phone game, time is money, and these systems save a ton of it. No waiting around for a human to manually erase one phone at a time.

(c) Comprehensive Wipe-Out: These automated setups don’t just do a surface-level wipe; they dive deep into every nook and cranny of a phone’s data. It’s like a thorough spring cleaning for a mobile phone, covering all the bases. Humans might miss a file or two, but these systems leave no stone unturned, and that gives tremendous peace of mind..

(d) No Bias, No Errors: Automation means no room for personal bias or human errors. Every phone gets the same treatment, following strict rules and protocols. No judgment calls or accidental oopsies. It’s a fair and square erasure, ensuring consistent results.

(e) Meeting Standards Like a Pro: Automated systems aren’t just wiping data; they’re doing it to meet high standards. Whether it’s NIST, industry-grade wiping standards, or specific criteria like R2v3 and GDPR, these systems nail it. Humans might not always remember every detail, but these systems follow the rules to a T.

(f) Reliable Documentation: Another big “plus” is that automated systems keep a detailed record of every data wipe. It’s like having a certifiable digital diary for each phone, proving that it received a thorough erasure. This documentation stands up to audit scrunity and is gold for sellers and buyers, adding a layer of trust to the resale process.

Take FutureDial’s ADISA-certified Lean One-Touch™ software, for instance. The technicians on the floor in those processing centers use the software to wipe the slate clean on all kinds of mobile phones. What’s really slick is that they plug in a bunch of phones, and Lean One-Touch™ can wipe clean 40 different mobile devices at the same time. It’s like a superhero for clearing data – saves time and gets the job done right. And get this, it follows NIST standards and ticks all the boxes for meeting dozens of industry-grade and military-grade wiping standards. It even satisfies consumer-oriented data sanitization standards including R2v3, GDPR, and more. Right now, these centers have zapped the data from a whopping 193,345,842* mobile phones using Lean One-Touch™. And you know what? They’re racking up more device erasures every single day.

In a nutshell, having automated systems handle the data erasure of preowned mobile phones is a win-win. It’s faster, more accurate, handles far more volume than humans can, meets high standards, and adds a layer of trust to the whole resale process. So, why go old school when you can go automated and ace the process?

3. Functional Testing for Quality Assurance

Having automated systems for accurate, verifiable functional testing of preowned mobile devices is crucial for certifying their quality for resale. Here’s why:

(a) Spot-On and Always the Same: These automated systems are like wizards of precision. They test phones with way less chance of messing up compared to a human doing it. It’s all about making sure every single phone goes through the same tests in the same way, so you know you’re getting results you can count on.

(b) Fast and Furious: Automated testing is like putting a mobile device on a fast track. It can run a bunch of tests all at once, slashing the time it takes to check if a preowned phone is up to snuff. In the resale game, speed matters, and these automated systems bring it big time.

(c) Checks Everything and the Kitchen Sink: These automated setups don’t just stop at the basics. They dig deep, testing every nook and cranny of a phone’s hardware. From screen display and cameras and buttons and screen touch sensitivity and sensors to the whole system’s mojo (like speed, memory, and connections), it’s a full-on checkup. No chance of missing any sneaky issues.

(d) No Bias, Just the Facts: Forget arbitrary, biased human opinions. These automated systems follow strict rules and testing criteria, leaving no room for personal judgement calls. It means every phone gets judged by the same standards. No favoritism, no bias – just a fair-and-square measure of quality. That’s a big deal for buidling trust in the preowned phone market.

(e) Logs on Logs on Logs: These systems don’t just test; they keep a detailed record of every result. It’s like having a play-by-play of a phone’s performance. This documentation is gold for sellers and buyers. It proves a phone’s quality and shows it passed all the necessary quality tests to justify its quality grading and pricing. Plus, it keeps everyone in check during the resale process.

(f) Money in the Bank: While setting up automated testing systems may have initial costs, but in the long run, they save big bucks. They work faster, make fewer mistakes, and handle more phones, leading to overall savings. It’s a smart investment for businesses selling preowned phones. Running the ROI with an automation provider might be enlightening.

And check this out: FutureDial has long been in the game with testing apps for hands-on device testing and fully automated robotic testing for mobile devices of all makes and models. To date, these FutureDial solutions have enabled processing centers to perform 1,103,384,915* functional tests on mobile devices, verifying their quality and functionally and making sure they’re top-notch for resale. With guided software and robot magic, they keep it consistent and error-free with over a BILLION tests. No worries about human slip-ups or random judgments. It’s all about getting certifyingly solid, auditable, trustworthy results and building buyer trust when selling those tested devices.

4. Grading Consistency for Profitable Resale Pricing

Automated grading systems have totally changed the game for checking out used mobile phones before selling them again. Forget about the ups and downs of manual grading — now there are smart robots using fancy algorithms and machine learning to precisely and intelligently size up phones based on strict grading criteria. This not only makes the grading fair and consistent but also cuts down on mistakes. The numbers back it up, showing that customers are way happier and trust the system more because the robots bring transparency and verifiable accuracy to the grading process.

Now, when it comes to deciding if a preowned phone is in good shape on the outside, using deep scanning robots for grading beats relying on the human eye any day. Here’s why:

(a) Seeing Clearly: These scanning robots aren’t influenced by feelings or personal choices. They stick to the plan, following set rules and grading criteria and giving a clear view of a phone’s external condition. Humans, on the other hand, might let their preferences or moods sneak in, leading to all kinds of differences in grading.

(b) Keeping It Consistent: Automation means that every phone gets the same grading treatment. These robots follow the same criteria for each device, keeping the grading consistent. Humans can get tired over a working shift or change their minds, causing variations in how they judge a phone’s cosmetic condition over time.

(c) Spotting Every Detail: Robots with special lighting and high-speed, deep-scanning cameras can catch tiny imperfections on a phone’s surface that the human eye will miss. Their scans are like a close-up inspection, making sure every little scratch or scuff or mark or deformation is accounted for. Humans might not pick up on those subtle imperfections, leading to less accurate grading.

(d) Speedy Grading Superstars: Automated grading is like a speed race compared to manual grading. These robots can handle many more phones in a work shift, giving quick and efficient results. A single device can be deep-scanned and instantly graded accurately in just seconds, compared with a manual inspection and arbitrary grading process using the human eye. In a resale market where time is money, automation speeds up the grading process, making sure things move fast.

(e) Volume Handling Pros: With the growing demand for more preowned phone inventory for resale, automated systems are the champs at handling tons of devices without breaking a sweat. Human graders might struggle to keep up, causing potential delays in getting those phones back into the market.

(f) Cutting Costs in the Long Run: Setting up these automated grading systems might cost a bit upfront, but in the long run, they’re money savers. They work tirelessly, reducing the need for a big crew of people doing manual grading. It’s a smart move for businesses looking to save on time and labor costs, while handling more volume each day.

(g) Getting Smart with Data: These automated systems aren’t just grading; they’re also hooked up with data analytics and machine learning. This means a more complete evaluation of a phone’s cosmetic condition, applying business intelligence. The automated grading system learns from all its scanning work, and is able to adjust and become even more precise over time. Having such accurate, repeatable data helps make better decisions, like setting resale prices based on both how a phone looks and what the market demand dictates. This helps resellers to make more money on each mobile device they resell.

At FutureDial, our SMART Grade™ robots have been hard at work 24/7, scanning and grading over 10.9 million* devices at mobile processing centers. These robots do a quick, deep scan for defects on every surface and corner of a mobile phone in seconds, and instantly grade each device according to specific grading criteria set by the processing center. It’s a time-saver for grading, and most importantly, it removes the guesswork and personal judgments that humans might make. Instead, it’s all about having an objective and consistent grading process for accurate assessments and figuring out the best resale prices. Automated grading with smart robots brings objectivity, consistency, precision, speed, and efficiency to sizing up the exterior condition quality of preowned phones. It’s not just accurate; it’s also a cost-effective way for businesses in the competitive market of reselling mobile devices.

5. Scalability of Operations

The scalability of refurbishment operations has been a longstanding challenge in the secondary mobile device market. Scaling up operations in the used phone game has always been a bit tricky, whenever the demand for preowned phones goes up. But automation comes to the rescue, making it all way smoother.

When it comes to these automated systems, the trick is that they’re modular. Think of it like building blocks – you can snap them together in different ways. This modularity makes them super adaptable to whatever a processing center needs. They don’t want some massive, one-size-fits-all solution that’s overkill. Nope, what they’re finding is that taking things one step at a time, scaling up when they need to, is the smart way to go. It’s like a gradual growth spurt that fits just right. No need for a giant footprint when you can take a phased approach that suits the business demand like a glove. That’s how automation is making the refurbishing game not just efficient but also flexible to handle whatever comes its way.

6. Cost Efficiency

Let’s talk about putting some money into automation tech. For some businesses, the upfront cost might make you blink twice, but here’s the scoop – it’s like planting seeds for a money tree. Once you get automation on board, it reduces labor costs, minimizes errors, and optimizes resource utilization – automation sorts all that out.

The numbers tell a clear story. We work with many businesses in the industry and we observe that overall costs of handling each device take a nosedive with automation in the picture. So, going for automation isn’t just a smart move; the adoption of automation is a financially prudent decision for businesses operating in the preowned mobile device market.

Now, if you’re curious about how this magic happens and want to peek into the Return on Investment (ROI), we’ve got your back. Our consultative experts can team up with you, figure out your needs, and crunch those numbers. We’re all about making sure that journey to automation makes financial sense to your business.

Profit in Every Process with FutureDial’s Automation Solutions

The numbers don’t lie – automation has reshaped the landscape of preowned mobile device processing for resale. From faster processing times to enhanced data security, consistent grading, and scalable refurbishment, the impact of automation on the secondary mobile device market is both profound and measurable. As technology continues to advance, these numbers are likely to evolve, shaping a more efficient and sustainable future for the thriving industry of preowned mobile device resale.

Many enterprises in the mobile supply chain collaborate with FutureDial to integrate processing automation solutions into various touchpoints in their operations. FutureDial’s advanced software and robotics not only streamline the processing of preowned mobile devices but also significantly boost the overall profitability of these renewal businesses. Whether you’re a mobile phone recycler, wireless carrier, wholesaler, refurbisher, 3PL, trade-in provider, MNO, MVNO, reseller, or a direct-to-consumer mobile device reseller, FutureDial is poised to be your strategic partner for automation and success in this fiercely competitive market.

To unleash the full potential of our innovative solutions for your business, reach out to us today at .

* = Source: FutureDial transaction data. Data figures current at the time of this publication. Subject to change.

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