As you guys know from my YouTube channel, I am a big fan of technology, be it computers, gaming consoles, or mobile phones.
You do not have to be a tech enthusiast to enjoy getting a new mobile phone. It is always fun to receive a brand new phone that has improved battery life, better performance, and a higher-quality camera.
The question is: What do you do with your old smartphone?
This is a problem I face every year when I buy a new phone. In the early 2000s I would usually keep my old mobile phone as a spare, however I prefer to sell my old phones as soon as possible now.
One major reason I like to sell my old phone after upgrading is the cost of phones today. Flagship smartphones cost a lot of money and if your old phone is sitting in a drawer doing nothing, it is losing value every day. It is therefore better to sell your phone sooner rather than later.
There are a number of ways to sell your mobile phone. There are pros and cons for each method.
Which method of selling your phone is best for you will depend on whether you value convenience, your time, or the resale value. All of these things have to be taken into consideration when you sell your phone.
Let’s take a closer look at five ways you can sell your mobile phone.
1. Sell Back to the Phone Company or Phone Network
Most phone manufacturers and phone networks have a service which lets you sell your phone to them.
They offer incenventives to trade in your phone to ecnourage you to upgrade. The concept is simple. You give them your old phone and you will receive a discount on the new phone you buy from them.
Apple do very well with their trade-in scheme, but I personally believe it offers poor value:
Trade in your eligible device for an Apple Store Gift Card or a refund on your purchase.1 If it’s not eligible for credit, we’ll recycle it for free. No matter the model or condition, we can turn it into something good for you and good for the planet.
As a test I checked the price of trading in a 64GB Apple iPhone 8 Plus. At the time of writing this sells for £699 sim-free in the UK, yet the Apple trade-in scheme only offered £253 for a phone in good condition.
This is a terrible price, especially when you consider that this is just store credit, not cash. You would make signicantly more selling privately.
Whilst some good deals do arise from time to time, most phone companies give you a poor price for your phone. They have remained popular because of how convenient it is get rid of your old phone, however the rise of second-hand electronic shops and phone trade-in services have given phone users more options for selling and encouraged some phone companies to step up and offer cash directly for old phones. A good example of this is O2 Recycle in the UK.
Selling directly to a company like O2 is convenient as once the deal is done, it’s done. You will get less selling to them than selling privately, but that is the price you pay for convenience.
I believe, however, there are better alternatives for selling your phone.
2. Phone Trade-Ins & Mobile Phone Recycling Stores
I have no doubt that companies like O2 have stepped up and offered better trade-ins because of the popularity of online shops and stores that let you sell phones directly.
I have sold a few phones in the past to CEX because it was the quickest and easiest way of selling my phone within the UK. Another company to check out is Envirofone. Both companies accept damaged phones too.
In the USA you will find phone many recycling and trade-in services. SellCell is a good starting point as they display the trade-in price from many different trade-in shops.
In my experience, mobile phone recycling companies generally offer you more money than selling directly to phone companies. You should however be mindful of the condition of your phone and the price they offer you.
One of the main complaints of selling to phone companies and recycling companies is that the seller did not get the price they were promised. For example, you might say that a phone is mint condition, but the company might knock the price down because of some marks to the phone case or screen.
If you have a realistic expectation of what condition your phone is, you should not be disappointed, however you should be ready to fight your corner and take your phone back if they do not offer the price you feel is right (admittedly, this is a pain).
Overall, I have been happy selling directly to phone trade-in shops and services. I have usually received less money than selling on eBay, however it is considerably more convenient and I do not need to worry about a buyer returning the phone.
When it comes to selling your mobile phone, eBay is a mixed bag.
On a positive note, you should get more money for your phone selling on eBay than selling to trade-in service. This is understandable as the business model of phone trade-in companies is to buy phones at a low price and then sell at a higher price. By selling directly to the buyer on eBay, you can sell your phone at a lower price than phone recycle companies and still make more money.
Unfortunately, selling on eBay is not always a smooth ride and your higher sales price does not tell the full story.
When you sell on eBay you need to:
- Pay eBay fees
- Pay PayPal fees
- Accept the risk of a phone being returned
The listing fee and PayPal fee can be calculated beforehand. This is something I encourage you to do before you list a phone for sale on eBay as the money you receive can be considerably less after fees. For example, several years ago I sold a Nokia phone on eBay for around £192 and after eBay fees and PayPal fees, I only made about £160. In hindsight, selling to a shop such as CEX would have been better.
Fees aside, a bigger issue is the potential for a phone to be returned.
I saw this firsthand a few years ago when my ex-girlfriend sold her old Sony phone on eBay.
She sold the phone at an amazing price; considerably lower than what others were selling at. The glass on the back of the phone had been smashed, but it was only £10 to replace it and noted that if someone paid the Buy it Now price, it would be replaced for them.
Someone bought it as it was and said they would replace the back glass themselves.
Fast-forward three months. Yes, three months. The funds for the sale were taken directly from my ex’s bank account as the buyer said the phone was broken. He explained that the phone would not stop showing the light.
When it was returned I disabled the light the buyer had enabled in a matter of seconds. Despite the buyer returning a perfectly good phone, they had the nerve to ask for us to pay him the money he had spent on replacing the back glass.
After this whole issue, she sold the phone on eBay once again. One month later, lightning struck again. The buyer had bought the same phone with the back glass replaced. Despite buying it in mint condition, they returned it one month later after they smashed it up and said that it had arrived damage. The complaints to PayPal about all of this fell on deaf ears.
The moral of the story is, when you sell on eBay, you have next to no rights as a seller. Experiences such as this have discouraged me from selling there and I frequently sell phones and other tech for less elsewhere to avoid the problems that can arise.
4. The Classifieds
Classifieds websites such as CraigsList and GumTree are useful for selling things locally.
In the UK, GumTree is popular for advertising places to rent, cars for sale, and furniture for sale. These are things that typically do not sell well on eBay.
As a place for selling old phones, I have always found classified websites to be a little bit of a lottery. When I have listed phones for sale there I have had a lot of time-wasters who ask you to sell way below the price you listed at. Whilst my mileage has not been great, I do know friends who have managed to sell phones there at a good price.
When you sell via a classifieds website, you do have to be careful about scams; especially if the phone you are selling is valuable. Be careful with how a buyer pays too. I would always prefer someone to send funds directly via my bank account than dealing with cash to avoid any payment issues.
Clasifieds are not the first place I would choose to sell a mobile phone, however if you are selling a phone that is not too valuable, you may want to consider listing it there.
5. Discussion Forums
Over the last few years I have sold a number of items on the technology forum AV Forums. It’s hugely popular within the UK and their mobile classifieds section has new listings every day.
When you sell on a discussion forum such as AV Forums, your reputation is everything. You should take pride in your sale and be sure to let potential buyers know everything about the phone. List what is included, what damage there is, and any other relevant information. You want to be as transparent as possible to others.
Just like a classifieds website, there are no hidden fees to worry about. Buyers generally pay first and pay by bank transfer. It is then your responsiblity to deliver your phone in good condition.
From a profit point of view, you will not always get the best price for your phone, but will get a fair price. Members of AV Forums are tech savvy and know the true value of your phone. You should, however, get a better price there than trading your phone into a phone recycling service.
Selling your phone is something that most people have to deal with every year or two. It can be a pain, however as you can see you do have options.
If you want the convenience of just handing your phone over to a company, you will need to accept less money. That being said, selling on a marketplace such as eBay to get a higher sales price means that you are always at risk of the buyer returning the phone later.
Personally, following my experiences on eBay, I usually try and sell on AV Forums first and if I cannot get a sale, I sell them to CEX.
Whatever you devide, I wish you the best of luck.