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Guide to Selling Used Mobile Devices Online

Whether you’re a used phone business looking to move your company online — or you just want to sell your old phone or iPad for some extra cash to trade in towards a newer model — there is a large and growing market for used mobile devices. As the latest smartphones become more advanced, they often come with a higher price tag. Therefore, many consumers and businesses choose to save money by buying used or refurbished phones.

The International Data Corporation estimates that 225.4 million refurbished and used smartphones were shipped in 2020. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the used and refurbished smartphone market is expected to record a compound annual growth rate of 10.23% from 2022 to 2027. The growth in this industry is driven by systematic collection and grading methods, advances in smartphones repair, and online/offline sales.

Once you’ve decided to sell your used gadget, you’ll find there are many platforms where you can conduct this sale. These include selling it directly to the company/carrier (e.g., Apple, Verizon, or AT&T), through a peer-to-peer marketplace like Amazon or Facebook Marketplace, or via independent platforms like Gazelle and SellCell. 

This article will highlight the benefits of selling your used mobile device online, along with tips and practices to help you maximize your profile.

Why sell used mobile devices online?

When upgrading to a new phone, it’s tempting to trade it in with your network carrier, letting you pay less upfront for your new device. However, the value you get from your network carrier isn’t always the best.

For example, the iPhone XS Max trade in value for T-Mobile was 25.9% less than an online buyback store. Peer-to-peer marketplaces often give you a better value by eliminating the middleman, but this option increases the time and effort required, and the risk of financial scams.

Selling your old or broken phone or laptop through “re-commerce” companies such as Gazelle and Decluttr can be the most profitable, convenient, and safe option. These companies give you an instant quote based on a brief questionnaire. If both parties agree to the amount, you simply ship the device to them using a prepaid shipping label. The e-commerce segment also removes the need for in-person interactions, provides safe payment gateways, is quick and typically hassle-free.

Apart from the monetary payout, selling your old phone is also a good way to recycle. Selling your used device extends its lifespan and reduces the amount of e-waste generated. Electronic devices contain many toxic compounds that can enter the soil, water, and air over time if not disposed of properly. Some people even buy used smartphones for parts to repair damaged devices.

Are old cell phones worth any money? 

Simply put — yes. While the value of a used smartphone can depend on its brand, model, storage capacity, and current condition, it can generally earn you a fair sum of money.

The average re-sell prices for popular models varies, but typically range in this area:

The value of a phone depreciates with time and decreases by $100-$200 annually. Phones in mint condition can demand up to 80% of their retail value, while those with minor scratches or defects are worth 50-60% of their original price. Phones with broken screens or water damage can also be stripped for parts, so it’s always worth selling an old phone rather than letting it sit in a drawer.

4 tips for selling used phones

Now that you’ve decided to sell your used phone online, you can use these tips to make the transaction seamless and get the best value for your device.

Do your research on what condition you should list your phone as 

It is important to be completely transparent about the condition of your device. Sharing details about physical wear and tear (such as cracks, scratches, or dents), as well as technical capabilities (such as camera quality, loading time, and battery health), can actually help you sell your handset by giving the buyer a realistic expectation. Sharing information about your usage — like if you always applied a screen guard — can help the buyer make their decision.

Based on condition, phones can largely be sectioned into 4 categories:

Reset your phone to factory settings 

Your phone contains a plethora of sensitive information. Returning it to factory settings will wipe all photos, files, and other data from the device — allowing you to hand it off without any privacy concerns. Remember to back up the old phone and transfer all your data to your new device before returning it to factory settings.

Returning your smartphones to factory settings is straightforward. 

On your iPhone you would need to follow these steps: 

On an Android phone you would need to follow these steps: Tap Settings > General Management > Reset > Factory Data Reset > Reset > Delete All. 

Price your phone correctly 

Determining the right price for your used smartphone can depend on many factors, such as the model, condition, and current supply and demand. 

First, you can check the current retail price for the same model — and the selling price for similar used devices — on marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist. Compare the condition of your smartphone to those being sold online and choose a fair price accordingly.

Many websites such as Bankmycell and Decluttr give you an instant quote for your device by answering simple questions about its condition. 

Keep in mind that as the new model of a phone is released, the price for an older model drops significantly. Hence, it is advisable to sell your device before a newer generation variant hits the market.

Certify your device through Phonecheck 

A Phonecheck valuation provides the buyer with the confidence that your device is in 100% working condition and can increase the likelihood of them wanting to buy your smartphone at a fair price. A Phonecheck Certification is a trusted third-party solution that checks not only for hardware and software damage, but also if the device has been reported stolen or lost. By reducing the rate of returns, Phonecheck also protects the seller's interests and ensures a transparent transaction.

How to sell used phones online

Selling your used phone online for the first time can be intimidating. However, by following these steps, you can make the process straightforward.

What is the best place to sell old phones? 

You have many options for where to sell your used phone online. Each of these platforms has different pros and cons, and you can choose the one most suitable for your needs.

Be better prepared to sell your phone online with a complete device history report from Phonecheck

Whatever your reason for selling your old device, it’s important to research your options to get the best price for your resale. 

Following simple steps, like including original accessories and replacing a cracked screen, can help you get more store credit, while remembering to erase all data protects your privacy. 

It is helpful to be fully honest about your phone’s condition. Get a PhoneCheck Certification to assure buyers that your mobile phone is in 100% working condition, helping you negotiate a better price and reduce the chance of returns.

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