Samsung may be working on a plan to sell expensive, returned Galaxy smartphones as refurbished models. Samsung currently operates an upgrade scheme, where phones are leased to owners for a year then upgraded when a new model is launched, and its those returned phones that may get a metaphorical lick of paint and sold on at a lower price.
The scheme isn’t official yet, but has been leaked to Reuters by an unnamed source with apparently direct knowledge of the program. Should it get approval, Samsung’s refurbished premium devices could go on sale in 2017. However, outside of this details are scant. For example, we don’t know where Samsung intends to sell its refurbished phones, how much cheaper they will be than buying new, how many phones it receives through its upgrade program, or if the stock would be supplemented by repaired devices initially returned with faults.
Related: Read our review of the Galaxy Note 7
What phones are likely to be included? Samsung’s upgrade program, which launched earlier this year, is available in several countries including the U.S., the U.K., and South Korea, and covers the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7, and Galaxy Note 7. However, it would make sense for Samsung to offer the Galaxy S6 range as well, if possible, as the discounts would be greater. Reuters suggests Samsung may use the refurbished phone program to increase business in India, and similar developing markets, where the average cost of a smartphone is much lower. Additionally, it may use lower cost versions of its high-end phones to combat pressure from Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi.
Selling refurbished phones is an established strategy. Samsung’s primary rival Apple sells refurbished iPhone devices — although not through its own website — and like Samsung’s rumoured intentions, wants to do so in India, but plans have been blocked, along with requests to open an official Apple retail store. If Samsung wants to sell its refurbished phones in India, it may face similar problems.