What to Do With Old Cell Phones

The average smart phone user has 32 old cell phones cluttering up their office. Well, maybe that’s completely made up, and maybe it’s not. Here’s what I know for sure…those old cell phones and electronic devices could be worth money. Here are the exact steps you can take to turn those old gadgets into greenbacks.

how to sell old cell phones

How to Save Pictures from Old Cell Phones

First, clear the data on your phone to protect your identity. If you aren’t sure what you have, you might want to plug it into your computer to ensure all the photos and personal data have been removed. You can call Apple directly to get help with this. Just by plugging the phone into your Mac or PC, you’ll be able to download any photos directly to your computer. Chances are that photos were already moved to your new phone, but it’s smart to check. If you can’t power up your phone, you can still remove the data card and access it directly to remove any old data. Look at your computer to see if you have an integrated card-reader slot. If not, you can purchase a card-reader to plug into your computer’s USB.

How to Clear Data from Old Cell Phones

Once your data is downloaded, you may still need to wipe the data. You can do this on an iPhone by tapping into Settings, General, About, Restore. You can do the same thing by logging into iCloud.com, Settings, choosing the device, and hitting Reset, then powering up the phone. You can Google the details for the procedure for other brands of smartphones.

How to Determine What Type of Old Cell Phone you Have

You’ll need to figure out what you have if you want to get a bid for it. You’ll need to know the exact model and size of device you have. For an iPhone, you’ll need to know what version of iPhone you have (3G, 4,4s, 5, 6, etc), Then you’ll want to know what size, 16, 32, or 64 gig. If you don’t know what you have, turn the iPhone over and look for a 5 digit number on the back. It will be in the format A1234, and it will be engraved too small for you to see with the naked eye. You can download a magnifying glass app onto the phone that you currently use in order to be able to read the tiny numbers. That magnifying glass is a wonderful little app for all sorts of things!

Once you know the model phone, you can go to this site to find the version of iPhone based on the number. Older phones also have the amount of storage engraved on the back, but for newer phones, usually you’ll have to power the phone on and check settings to see what size the phone is. (Settings, General, About)

How to Sell Old Cell Phones

The last step is turning that hunk of metal and plastic into money. I like going to Gazelle, which has a very simple process for getting a bid on your gadget. On a recent batch of iPhones, a client got a bid of $85 on a 32 gig iPhone 5s, but nothing for an old iPhone 3. If you accept their bid, they will send you a prepaid envelope, which you will then use to send back your devices, and then they pay you for the item once they receive it. This is a legitimate company that does pay, as far as I’ve seen. This is much easier and faster than trying to find an individual buyer for your old phone.

How to Donate Old Cell Phones

If your Gazelle bid comes back very low or worth nothing, they will still allow you to send in your phone, via a prepaid envelope, and donate the phone or money to a charity.

How to Recycle Old Cell Phones

You can also recycle a phone locally. There are often donation drop points in community centers, libraries and retail stores. It’s a better idea to get those phones out to where they can be re-used or recycled, rather than letting it take up space in your drawers. You do not need to provide the power cord or accessories with your phone in order to recycle it. Even “dumb phones” can and should be recycled.

How to Unlock Old Cell Phones

You could also gift a more recent model phone to a friend or relative. However, if they want to use a different carrier than the one you’ve been using, you may need to have the phone unlocked. Here’s a link to unlock AT&T phones.  Once unlocked, you’ll work with your chosen carrier to establish service on that phone.

This might take a bit of your time to clear off the phone and send it off to a new home, but it’s worth it in the end.

If this article helped you, I’d love to know how many old cell phones you own that need to be dealt with. Would you please share in the comments?