How to get the most bang for the buck when selling your old phone

Whenever it's time to buy a new phone, the experience is akin to a kid being inside of a candy store. You're itching to scope out all the shiny new phones that are out on the shelves, just waiting to gobble one of them up and paying for it before it's officially yours. Naturally, most people are going be feeling super elated by this experience, mainly because of the prospect of having a brand spanking new phone in your possession!

However, you then reach back into your pocket, only to realize that you're still in possession of your old phone. Some people will choose to hold onto their old phones, just in case something unfortunate thing happens to their new one, but chances are, they won't ever have to go back to using them. And then it finally hits them, they could've sold that old phone!

It's a predicament that plays out all too frequently when consumers are ready to buy a new one. Using the money acquired by selling that old phone towards the purchase of the new one alleviates some of the stress of having to pay the full amount for the new phone right from the onset, but the question that really needs to be explored is how to get the most bang for the buck out when selling your old phone.

Obviously, generating more money from your old phone is always the best-case scenario. In order to help us uncover the best time to sell your phone, we reached out to Yanyan Ji, who is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and General Manager, E-Commerce at ecoATM Gazelle. If you don't know, Gazelle is an E-Commerce company that allows people to sell their used electronic devices for money – while ecoATM are those ATM looking machines that pays you for your old phones.

Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate

There's some strategy when it comes to selling your old phone, just because there are so many factors that can affect the quotes you can procure from different outlets. First and foremost, you really need to anticipate ahead of time when the new version of your old phone is being released. In most instances, people rush to sell their old phone right after the new model is introduced or released, which can not only saturate the market due to all those old phones being put up for sale, but it'll also dramatically lower quotes in the process.

"Once a new phone model is introduced, the previous generation goes down in value. For example, we tend to see prices drop by 10-20% after Apple releases a new phone. The newer your device and the better its condition, the more money you will receive for it," says Ji. The 10% to 20% decrease might not sound like a whole lot, but when quotes have been trending at around $450 for a flawless looking 64GB iPhone X, that could potentially end up being $360 instead – and that's a huge difference!

Like we said, you'll need to anticipate well ahead of time about selling your old phone. Wait until the end, right at the moment when that new one is introduced, you won't be able to garner as much as you would've if you anticipated it well in advance. If you're the kind of person that typically buys a new phone each year, then you'll want to target the month leading up to the announcement of the new model to proactively sell your old one.

Case and screen protectors are a must

People don't like buying phones that are all banged up or show significant signs of wear and tear, which is also the case for all of these resellers and online trade back programs. If you're the kind of user that prefers having your phone "naked," then you better be paying extra attention to it – just because it's more prone in general. And when it comes to getting the most bang for the buck out of your old device, you'll want to try and keep it as pristine looking when it's time to sell it.

That's why it's beneficial to use cases and screen protectors, as they help to retain the phone's pristine looks from day one. Ji tells us, "Keep your phone in good condition by using a case and screen protector to protect it from accidental falls and scratches. If your device has a cracked screen, consider replacing it before selling to garner a higher value." Every scratch, chipped corner, and faded surface can slowly chip away at the maximum potential you can achieve selling your phone.

By using a case and a screen protector, not only are you protecting it from accidental damage, like a fall onto the hard pavement, but your chances of getting a higher quote is better. Sure, they might take away from the phone's natural beauty and original looks, but if you're adamant of spending as little as possible out of your pocket to pick up a new phone, you'll absolutely need to use them starting on day one.

Mainstream devices have the highest resell values

Choose your smartphone wisely, just because not all phones are going to be equal when it comes to reselling them. Not surprisingly, high-end flagship phones with all of today's tech goodness are more valuable, than say, those entry-level phones you might've picked up online for a killer deal. However, what's even more interesting is that mainstream devices are usually the ones to accumulate the highest resell values.

Take for example, we have flagship phones from three different companies, say from Apple, Samsung, and HTC. All were priced the same when they were first released, so it was an even playing field at the beginning. Considering that there's more of a market demand for Apple and Samsung devices, the HTC flagship might actually come out short with its resell value. So, while the price of all three were the same, HTC's flagship wouldn't garner the same resell value because the market demand isn't on the same level as Apple or Samsung.

Does this mean that you shouldn't even bother going with a phone that's not from one of the big names? Not really, especially because there might be some overlap when quotes for devices might be the same, which is really dependent on the market conditions.

Who to sell it back to?

As with most things, we recommend doing your research in terms of choosing who or what service you want to utilize to sell back your old phone for money. Nowadays, many carrier stores and big box retailers offer some kind of buy back or trade in service – where they'll offer gift cards, cash, store credits, or other promotions for your old phone. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also leverage online buyback services, like Gazelle and ecoATM, for the convenience of getting a quote instantly. With ecoATM, in particular, it'll give you cash on the spot for your old phone.

The advantage with going with these online services or brick and mortar stores is the convenience you'll get selling your phone. You go there, you leave with cash or something else – and that's it! Of course, you may also want to explore other outlets besides these resellers, but there might be some work or additional expenses incurred on your side. You can sell your old phones outright through eBay or Craigslist, but you might have to play the waiting game for the right buyer to come around. Not only that, but there are situations when bargaining for a fair price comes into play.

You might be able to snag more value by selling it through eBay or Craigslist, seeing that prices tend to be uniform amongst those buy back and trade in programs. Regardless of which route you end up selecting, it's best to do your research and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Or maybe it could become a collector's item?

Early adopters might be inclined to sell their old phone around the time when the new one is about to be announced, but another alternative to getting more bang for the buck out of that old phone is to maybe just hold onto it, in the hopes that it may one day become a collector's item? Remember that first-generation original iPhone? Well, it's a collector's item nowadays and really tough to come by, so even if you somehow manage to come across one, chances are that it's commanding a huge sum of money to own.

Even though there's a slim chance that the value of your old phone will ever come close or exceed the initial cost you paid for it, you may still be able to obtain a reasonable amount by holding onto it – as opposed to selling it after the first year of ownership. Indeed, you'll be taking a chance on a possible big payout, but it's also another alternative way of trying to get back as much as you can by selling it.



1. Subie

Posts: 2388; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

"Mainstream devices have the highest resell values" I guess I'll be hanging on to my Lumia then till it becomes a Windows Mobile collectors item!

2. Phonehex

Posts: 767; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

If you buy Sony phones , No bucks back. LOL. No wants my XZ premium. Haha. I have an extra brand new one ordered by mistake and it is a 700$ Paper weight now.

3. Subie

Posts: 2388; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Nice device! My advise would be to just enjoy it till it no longer functions for you. As for the extra one... Mail it to me bro, I'm sure I can find good use for it ;)

7. Phonehex

Posts: 767; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

I am thoroughly enjoying my S9+ :)

22. KingSam

Posts: 1472; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

I'm about to buy a new G5 for $250. I'd gladly take an xz premium over that. But here in Jamaica that's as good as it gets.

23. jechrin

Posts: 9; Member since: Jun 21, 2011

Sony phones are the only ones that are compatible with the PS4 controller and usage with your PS4 through streaming. Those are great selling points to make for someone whose interested in gaming

4. Venom

Posts: 3722; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Looking at the market, I can see that iphones, later model Samsung Galaxy, and the superior Pixels are the ones that are in the demand with average prices of about $350-$800. Of course, unlocked phones tend to fetch more especially ones that runs on all carriers.

8. libra89

Posts: 2293; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Yep, I can agree with that. Everything else is either kind of niche or very niche, which can possibly work out in your favor as a seller.

21. Xtraflossy

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 13, 2018

My LG G6 will fetch me about $70 from a TMO trade in. Kind of dissapointing

5. antroid

Posts: 392; Member since: Jan 24, 2018

As for me I'm using the same headset till it get broken and then buy a new one.

6. drunkenjay

Posts: 1697; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

this is why i like apple. even though it is expensive, you can sell it at just as much.

10. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Umm, not always. Look at used iPhone X on eBay. You can get one for about $450 to $600. That far from selling it for just as much.

13. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

There is no iPhone X selling for that price. You are seeing the current bid, not the final price. 64gb going for about $900 after auction over.

16. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

These are ended auctions that sold. Because they are sold the links won't work. Look up ended iPhone X auction and there are some that sold for $500 Buy it now

20. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

I’m still calling you on your BS. I see no functional, clean esn, non-broken iPhone X being sold, or have sold anywhere near that price.

14. kiko007

Posts: 7503; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

And the Galaxy S9... which is only a month old... has already lost about 15% of it's value at launch. What OP said is true... deal with it.

17. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

No it's not true, DEAL WITH IT Also , I never said the s9 or s9+ has not dropped in price for a used one.

9. blkatfirstsight

Posts: 39; Member since: Mar 05, 2018

A few times in the past I have taken my older phones over to GameStop and they have given me around $400 and up on my iPhones.

11. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I get top dollar for all my phones because I keep a case on from day one and screen protector. They look new when I sale them.

12. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

“How to get the most bang for the buck when selling your old phone” Step 1: buy an iPhone

15. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Excllent reslae value only goes to iPhone, galaxy and note other than that nothing including pixel.

18. Duncdawg26

Posts: 176; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

I can't believe there's no mention of swappa-- ?? Way better than ebay or Craigslist for selling. I believe it has a lower sellers fee than ebay for most phones but the seller does has to pay shipping. The Sony xz premium is going for ~$400. Not the $700 that was paid for it but a lot better than a paper weight...?

19. Duncdawg26

Posts: 176; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

Buying used phones is getting to bigger and bigger topic. Any chance PhoneArena could start an ongoing series comparing phones at similar prices. I. E., galaxy s7 VS honor 7x, or like dailysteals has refurbished moto z2 force and the original pixel for the same price. Even on YouTube, there isn't a lot of coverage on the topic...??

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