How To: Sell or Give Away Your Used Smartphone

You may choose to store your used and no longer loved iPhone or Nexus in dusty drawers just in case you might need it in some indefinite future. Or else, you may choose to sell it to earn some extra cash, or donate it to charity or give it away to a friend or a child from a poor family. Whatever you choose, here are some basic tips on where to sell or donate and how to wipe your personal information from your old device.


Used iPhones generally cost more than secondhand Android smartphones, and some online dealers will give you good buck for your old device. It might be a good idea to sell your old iPhone before the announcement of the latest replacement. New iPhones come out in September and rumor mills start posting leaks and roll out dates long beforehand. Likewise, you can search for your Android smartphone manufacturer and see when the next device comes out. With Android smartphones, it is a little bit more difficult because you need to keep an eye open for multiple manufacturers competing for the same market segment. But the bottom line is you need to watch the market.

It is also important to understand how you want to sell – locally, nationally or internationally. Local sales generally bring less money, but they are quick. For example, if you choose to sell on Craigslist or some other local listing dashboard, you do not need to pay a fee and, therefore, can compromise to sell for less, but take advantage of a quick sale hand-to-hand. Another advantage is you get the money immediately in cash, just as you agree with the buyer, and there is no nervous waiting for that wire or PayPal transaction.

Your location affects how much you can earn from selling a used smartphone. Large techie cities like San Francisco, Boston and New York are flooded with secondhand merchandise and you might have to compete for buyers. Understanding that, you might want to drive the price a little bit down to find your buyer. On the other hand, small towns don’t have that much demand as big cities. Alternatively, you can list your smartphone in cities that don’t have an overwhelming supply and have an average demand, if you’re willing to deal with mail away options. It is always a good idea to compare prices for similar products so you can come up with a price that suits you best.

When you come up with a price, consider the condition and the age of your device. If it’s in good shape and has no functional or physical damage, you won’t have any trouble selling it. Smartphones older than 2 years are considered old, especially because warranties are expired. If the warranty is still valid, you can expect to charge more for your smartphone, or at least find a buyer quickly.

Nevertheless, if the warranty is expired, don’t wait too long for your device to fall several generations behind the latest versions because local customers will no longer be interested in your device. If you have already waited too long, you might want to consider selling your device internationally to countries like India, China or Nicaragua, where the market saturation for middle range and high-end devices hasn’t been filled yet.

Websites to check out

eBay is a great marketplace to sell your used smartphone. You can set up an auction and set a “buy it now” price, and while auctions can get you more than you expect, you may also end up with less than you wanted. In addition, selling via eBay will require most of your effort running an auction and mailing the delivery. Alternatively, you can turn to eBay My Gadgets section – you get help listing and evaluating your device.

Amazon is a very convenient way to sell used devices, especially because you can find an identical product and click “sale on Amazon,” adding up a few details you will create a listing for your device. You can manage the mailing of the device yourself or have Amazon assist you. Once you’re done with mailing, you send a confirmation to Amazon and request the funds to be transferred to your bank account. Just like with eBay, you have to pay Amazon the fee. Of course, there is the competition, which can drag the prices a little bit down, but you can make some good cash if you have a high-end item.

Gazelle is a great place to sell iPhones, especially because it offers price locks, but not on all iPhones. They have a very convenient buyback programs and iPhone users must consider it above all. Gazelle doesn’t offer much for old phones while relatively new models can earn you quite a lot.

Facebook marketplace gives you the convenience of the local sale via online channels. It is quite similar to selling on Craigslist, but with no limitation location-wise. Facebook gives you another advantage of sharing your posting on your Facebook wall for your friends to see you are selling. Even though it’s convenient, it’s not as efficient as Craigslist.

Craigslist is perfect for local and quick sales, but you’ll have to meet sellers personally and withstand bargaining. If you don’t mind tackling a couple of flaky buyers, and have a relatively lucrative device on sale, raigslist might just be a perfect place for you to sell quickly and earn the most. Another advantage is you don’t pay any fees, and hence, you can drop in price a little bit.

Apple will buy your old iPhone in exchange for a gift card via its Reuse and Recycling program. Prices depend on your device’s model, age and condition.

Glyde is yet another place to sell your old device. Additionally, it offers a convenient comparison chart of how much you can get on Glide, Amazon, Gazelle and Apple.

Buy-back or trade-in option exist with major wireless carriers – Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T will offer you a gift card or an account credit.

Additionally, you may want to check out trade-in programs at Best Buy, RadioShack and Amazon, BuyBackWorld, BuyMyTronics and NextWorth that buy smartphones for cash. However, to qualify for these programs, you need to have a smartphone that doesn’t have any cracked casing or water damage and must be overall in good condition.

Donating to:

Survivors of domestic violence

Verizon Wireless has collected millions of smartphones for victims of domestic violence – every 4th woman, every 7th man and 3 million children since 2001. Just leave it at the Verizon store, mail it or order a HopeLine drive. Secure the Call is another charity organization that collects used smartphones for abused women and senior people who live alone while Phones 4 Charity works with the American Red Cross.

US Troops

Cell phones for soldiers collect secondhand devices to provide American soldiers with a free way to call home. You can trade-in your old smartphone for calling cards or walkie-talkies.

US Environmental Protection Agency

EPA offers a couple of dozen ways to recycle old smartphones, so you can search the option that suits you best depending on your smartphone’s make.

One fund for Boston

Gazelle accepts donated items to support the victims of the Boston Marathon.


CTIA refurbishes your outdated smartphone and sends it to retailers who then sell it. Even if your phone cannot be refurbished, the agency recycles it for reusable materials.


Finally, here are brief instructions on how to clean your device of the residual information about yourself. In the first place, make sure you backup any information you would like to keep. Next, all you need to do is wipe your smartphone’s personal information and restore it to the factory settings.

In Android:

Go to Settings -> SD card and phone storage -> unmount and format the microSD card.

Go back to Settings -> privacy -> factory data reset.

It can take up to several minutes and your smartphone will reboot when it’s done. Keep in mind that the information stored on your SIM card doesn’t get wiped out.

In iOS:

Find Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings.

In Windows Phone:

Swipe left from the Start screen -> Settings -> About -> Reset Your Phone.

There you go. If you have more information on where people can donate their old smartphones outside the US, please, let us know in the comments below.