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New phone? Sell, recycle or donate your old one

If you’ve recently purchased the iPhone 13, or you’re looking to get a new smartphone for Christmas, what are you planning on doing with your old one? You don’t need to throw it in a drawer and forget about it. Find out how to sell it, recycle it, or donate it instead.

Should I sell, recycle or donate?

You might see your old phone as a problem that would be best solved by throwing it in the bin, but it could be an opportunity. A huge number of organisations are likely to want your phone, particularly if it’s not faulty and still on sale. Your options are either to repurpose it, make some money or donate it to charity. 

Selling your phone is a good option if the phone is fairly new (if you’re holding onto a Nokia 3410, you might be able to shift it on eBay, but don’t expect to get more than a tenner). If it is in full working order, and doesn’t have any cosmetic damage, that’s also going to be a lot more appealing to private buyers and businesses. 

Recycling or repurposing your phone is a good option if you can find a use for it. If you are looking to repurpose it, having a functional smartphone is going to help. There are still options for your old iPhone with a damaged camera or a broken screen, but it might mean that you have to get a little more creative.

Donating your phone is a great option, but again only if your phone is in full working order. If you’ve upgraded to a new smartphone because your old phone freezes multiple times a day, or doesn’t charge properly, it is less likely to be accepted by a charity. For faulty devices, retailers like Currys accept tech in any condition to recycle in store.

How to sell your old phone

If you’ve decided to sell your phone, firstly you’ll need to do a factory reset. This means wiping the phone of all of your applications, data and photos, so that the device is completely blank. For iPhones, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘General’, then ‘Reset’. You can then press ‘Erase All Content and Settings’. For Androids, head to ‘Settings’, then ‘System’, then ‘Advanced’ and then ‘Reset’. Once you’ve wiped your device, you can decide to sell it privately or sell it to a business.

Selling your device privately is likely to get you the best price, but it is also likely to be the most effort. You’ll need to use a site like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. Snap some photos of your device, and wait for the buyers to roll in. If you send your device by post, make sure that you’ve been paid first, and send it using a tracked delivery service.

If you want to sell it to a business, this is likely to be easier. Services like MusicMagpie, Mazuma Mobile and Envirofone will buy your phone directly; just head to the website, select your make and model, and give them some information about the condition. Send it in the post for free, and get paid when they receive it.

How to donate your old phone

If you’d prefer to donate your old phone, you’ll also need to do a factory reset. This ensures that there’s no personal information, files or photos on your phone, and it can be given to another person.  For iPhones, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘General’, then ‘Reset’. You can then press ‘Erase All Content and Settings’. For Androids, head to ‘Settings’, then ‘System’, then ‘Advanced’ and then ‘Reset’. 

There are a number of different organisations you can support by donating your phone. Tesco Mobile Reconnects is a service which takes your phone, sells it and then uses that money to supply tech to Crisis, a homelessness charity. For something more local, the Great North Air Ambulance Service collects old phones directly, regardless of whether they’re working or non-working. You can also use a service like Fonebank to sell your phone, and then donate some or all of the proceeds to a charity like WaterAid.

How to recycle your old phone

If you’re wanting to hang onto your old phone, you could think about recycling or repurposing it for something else in your house. If you have WiFi controlled heating, light bulbs or other smart devices, an old phone can be a great smart remote for your home. Remove the password, download all the required applications and leave it somewhere accessible to control your smart products from a single device.

If your phone still has a functional camera, it could be worth considering it as a replacement for your webcam. You could also use it as a dash-cam for your car; the camera on your old phone may be better than a dash-cam camera, and it could help you out in the event of a collision or accident. You can also repurpose your old phone as a security camera; check out these tutorials to find out how.

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