Few takers for used Huawei smartphones, but bargain hunters sniffing around

Sales of used Huawei smartphones dropping sharply, and those still inquiring after them are largely buyers sniffing for potential bargains. ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

SINGAPORE - The market for used Huawei smartphones has taken a major hit since the United States clamped down on the Chinese giant and Google suspended business with it.

While a majority of mobile phone shops here said they are still buying used Huawei handsets, they are offering steeply lower prices for them. Some shops have stopped buying used Huawei products altogether.

Customers, too, are staying away, with sales of used Huawei smartphones dropping sharply. Those still inquiring after them are largely buyers sniffing for potential bargains.

Twelve of the 18 mobile phone shops The Straits Times visited on Wednesday (May 22) in Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Far East Plaza said they accept used Huawei phones, especially recent models like last month's P30 Pro - but there is a catch.

The shops said the prices they are offering for used Huawei smartphones have dropped by $200 to $300 since the ban. They attributed this to lower demand for the phone after Google distanced itself from Huawei.

Mr Ben Eu, owner of Kasia Mobile at Orchard Xchange, said: "We were selling 20 Huawei phones daily on average. Since the news broke, we are only doing around two to three per day."

The slump comes even though existing Huawei models, such as the P30 Pro and last year's Mate 20 series will continue to have access to Google apps and services, including the Google Play Store. Huawei will also provide security updates and after-sales services for devices that "have been sold and that are still in stock globally".

Still, Mr Eu has stopped buying models such as last year's Huawei Mate 20 phones. "Because of the current US-Huawei dispute, dealers are keeping their stocks low," he said.

Mr Samuel Chan, 44, a sales manager at Whymobile in Far East Plaza said no one is buying Huawei phones now. "If there's a platform that Huawei can use to install apps, then we will accept them," he said.

Several other mobile phone shops also said they saw a drop in sales.

Meanwhile, bargain hunters are sniffing around, especially on online marketplace Carousell.

The Straits Times found dozens of Carousell listings from those hoping to buy Huawei phones at a steep discount. One user with the handle "allsortss" said he has fielded enquiries from four or five sellers despite offering just $100 to buy the Huawei P30 Pro. The recommended retail price for the Huawei P30 Pro is $1,398.

Meanwhile, telcos in Japan and Taiwan on Wednesday said they will not sell new Huawei handsets, with a South Korean carrier likely to follow suit.

The handsets continued to be offered for sale by telcos in Singapore.

However, some people who bought the handsets recently are wondering if they will be able to get refunds on them. That, it appears, may depend on where they purchased the handsets.

M1 said "out of goodwill, it may allow customers to exchange for another handset brand on a case-by-case basis".

StarHub told The Straits Times it will "offer assistance to customers who contact it for help", but it advised customers to reach out to Huawei if "the phones are not working as expected".

A Singtel spokesman said: "We have confirmation from Huawei that phones that have been sold continue to have access to Google services and the Google Play Store for downloads and updates, and are working fine with no service or usage impact. We are working closely with Huawei to assess any potential usage impact moving forward."

Those who bought Huawei handsets from other retailers may still be able to return them.

Courts offers a 30-day refund or exchange for unopened items while opened items can be returned within 14 days. Smartphones, however, are ineligible for returns once opened. Online retailer Lazada offers full refunds within 15 days of the purchase for products sold at its LazMall section. Items outside LazMall have a seven-day return policy.

Additional reporting by Jeanell Kiew and Rosalind Ang

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