Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: Which Smartphone Holds Its Value?

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Last updated January 9, 2024

Samsung’s S21 range has depreciated by up to 50% since January 21

Apple’s iPhone 12 range holds its value by nearly 20% more than the Samsung S21 series.

Galaxy S21 5G 128GB is the main depreciator, losing over half of its value since launch

The value of smartphones naturally depreciates over time, but Samsung S21 owners have a shock in store when compared to the iPhone 12…

Like most material goods, smartphones depreciate in value from the moment they leave the factory. However, the value of some shrinks significantly faster than others. This means that consumers can find themselves with a handset that has little value, even after a short period of ownership.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 range is a case in point, particularly when compared to the iPhone 12 range. It is no secret that the two brands are constantly vying for position of “best-selling smartphone”, with Apple only recently knocking Samsung off its perch to take top spot.

However, is this number one position justified with depreciation in mind? Looking at the figures, probably. Samsung S21 owners should prepare themselves for some shocking news, despite the handsets only being on the shelves since the start of 2021.

We compared the depreciation in value of the entire Samsung Galaxy S21 range vs the entire Apple iPhone 12 range. This allows us to see which handset holds its value and which becomes worthless quicker. We measured each handset’s MSRP against its monthly and total depreciation (based on the good/used price of each handset on

Key Highlights

  • The Apple iPhone 12 range has lost value by 18.1-33.7% since launch in 2020. The iPhone 12 Pro 512GB losing $438 of value since its launch.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S21 series, has seen shocking depreciation of between 43.7-50.8% since launch in January 2021.
  • The most expensive iPhone 12 (Pro Max 512 GB, $1,399) lost 30.7% (6.1% per month since launch) of its value when compared to the most expensive Samsung Galaxy S21 (Ultra 5G 512 GB, $1,379) at 45.8% (15.3% per month since launch).
  • The iPhone 12 Pro Max 128 GB holds it’s value the most vs other’s in the range, with an 18.1% (3.6% per month) decrease in value since launch in October 2020 (five months at the time of writing).
  • The Galaxy S21+ 5G 256 GB is the best performing of Samsung’s offerings. Not that that will mean much as it has lost a shocking 43.7% (14.6 % per month) of its value since launch in January 2021 (three months at the time of writing).
  • The Galaxy S21 5G 128 GB has depreciated in value by a startling 50.8% (at a rate of 16.9% per month) despite only being on the market for three months.
  • The cheapest Apple iPhone 12 model (standard 64 GB, $799) has lost the most value, depreciating by 33.7% (6.7% per month) in five months on the market.
  • The cheapest Samsung S21 model (standard 5G 128 GB, $799) has lost a huge 50.8% (16.9% per month) of its value in only three months.
  • Overall, the iPhone 12 range holds significantly more value than the Samsung S21 range.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Depreciation

Samsung Galaxy S21 Depreciation Since Launch to April 1st (Launched January 2021)

The figures shown in the table above will undoubtedly alarm Samsung Galaxy S21 owners across the entire range.

Despite only launching in January 2021, all handsets have lost almost 50% of their value. That is a substantial loss, considering they have only been on the market for three months at the time of writing.

Not only that, but compared to Apple’s iPhone 12 series, the S21 range costs more in a like-for-like comparison. Take Samsung’s most expensive handset as an example. It costs $1,379 (MSRP) and yet it has lost value at a startling $210.67 each month since launch. The iPhone equivalent has only depreciated by a few cents over $85 per month.

So, while you can still get $747 for an S21 in “good” condition (when sold via SellCell), you are losing a huge $632 compared to what you initially invested at the start of the year. Splendid news if you want to buy a cheaper S21, but terrible news if you want to sell up and replace your phone.

Even if you invested in the cheapest handset in Samsung’s flagship range—the Galaxy S21 5G 128 GB—at $799, you’ve still lost $393, which is almost 50% of the handset’s initial value.

In short, if you grabbed a Samsung S21 at launch, it is now running at a serious loss, with no sign of its depreciation slowing down, irrespective of the model you own.

Apple iPhone 12 Depreciation

iPhone 12 Range Depreciation
iPhone 12 Depreciation Since Launch to April 1st (12 Pro Max / 12 Pro / 12 Launch Date 23rd October 2020,
12 Mini Launch Date 13th November 2020)

iPhone 12 owners, by comparison, have got it pretty good. While their handsets have also depreciated, value shrinkage has occurred at a much slower rate, and a significantly lower percentage. All this despite the iPhone 12 series having a two-month head start on launch.

As the table above shows, the iPhone 12 Pro 512 GB and iPhone 12 64 GB show the highest depreciation by percentage. Both handsets, despite a $500 price difference, have depreciated by 33.7%—with losses of $438 and $269, respectively.

Surprisingly, it is some of the more expensive iPhone 12 handsets that are retaining value. The iPhone 12 Pro Max range is the most expensive in the 12-series handsets. The iPhone 12 Pro Max 128 GB costs $1,099 when bought new. If you sold this handset now, you would receive $900, which is only $199 depreciation in five months.

Likewise, the iPhone 12 Pro 128 GB carries an MSRP of $999. It still has a resale value of $810, meaning it has only depreciated by 18.9%; a monthly percentage of only 3.8%.

However, it is Apple’s cheaper iPhone handsets that lose the most value. Looking at the iPhone 12 64 GB, we can see a loss of $269 in value since launch, a total of 33.7%, which equates to a monthly depreciation rate of 6.7%.

It is also impossible to ignore the iPhone 12 Mini range. These handsets launched a month later than the rest of the iPhone 12 smartphones, yet have seen the highest total depreciation over time than other iPhone 12s. All have lost around 32% of their original sale value, as a rate of around 8.2% per month.

So, depending on the iPhone you bought at launch, you’re either doing pretty well, with only around an 18% loss in value, or your handset is performing more like a Samsung, value-wise, with losses of up to 33%.

Why Do Samsung Phones Lose Value Faster Than iPhone?

The reasons for this disparity in value are likely to be many. Our recent brand loyalty survey could hold some answers, though, given that 92% of iPhone owners remain devoted to the Apple brand.

In this sense, we can say with some confidence that the reason the iPhone 12 series has held its value better than the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, is because the demand is still there even after that initial sale.

Apple owners looking to upgrade their device will, in the majority, stick to the Apple brand. In that sense, demand is high for pre-owned iPhone 12 handsets, meaning that they keep their value as consumers are happy to pay a premium, even for a refurbished or pre-owned iPhone 12.

On the other side, not only do Samsung owners show less loyalty to the brand, but 26% of them are happy to consider jumping ship to an Apple device once they’re done with their Android handset.

This has two effects. It decreases demand for Samsung’s handsets, driving the value down, while at the same time increasing Apple demand even further, slowing the rate of iPhone 12 value shrinkage.

Should You Sell Your iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21?

Carrier Trade- In Prices

By default, many iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 owners would opt to sell their old or unwanted device to a carrier. But how are carriers currently valuing the iPhone 12 and Samsung S21 ranges?

As you can see, Verizon and AT&T offer significantly lower prices than the highest price you can get for an iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21 model using SellCell. This means that if you opt for a carrier trade-in, the depreciation across both ranges would be considerably more, and customers would lose out even more.

Even the original manufacturer’s won’t give you the best value. Apple currently isn’t buying back iPhone 12 models.

Samsung does not offer a trade-in value for its own Galaxy S21 series but, confusingly, appears to be driving up the trade-in prices of the iPhone 12 by offering up to $700 for an unwanted iPhone 12 Max Pro 512 GB. This is an obvious attempt by Samsung to lure iPhone users into the Samsung Ecosystem.

Even then, you only get store credit with Samsung, not cash. So, checking out an independent valuation service like SellCell is useful in getting a good cash value for your phone.

Samsung Loses Out to Apple Again

iphone 12 mini

So, Apple has dethroned Samsung for good reason. Given that Samsung has suffered in both brand loyalty and value retention, it is likely we will see Apple keeping its position as the most popular smartphone on the planet.

Given that smartphones lose their value so quickly, always ensure you are getting the best value for money if you decide to sell your handset. At SellCell, we can compare the sale value of a wide range of smartphones across multiple buyers to ensure you get the highest payout for your unwanted handset.

It doesn’t just stop at smartphones, either. You can use our website to compare prices across a wide range of tech devices, from consoles to smart watches, always ensuring you get the most value for money, whether you’re selling an iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy S21, or otherwise.


We compared the MSRP of all iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone models against their current value. We define “current value”, for this analysis, as the best price offered for each model, in “good” condition, on We took both monthly and total depreciation as both a percentage of the MSRP and cash value and compared those figures to find out which handset, iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21, loses its value quickest.