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How do I sell my used phone?
Is it time to let go of your trusty old phone? It’s part of the smartphone life cycle. The great thing about modern phones is that even older devices can be very capable, and will find a great home with users who will still enjoy and take advantage of them. So you’ve made the decision, and now your main question is: how do I sell my used phone?
Selling used devices isn’t always an easy feat. This is why there’s such a huge market in sales; selling is an art. We won’t promise to turn you into a sales expert, but we can help you get the most out of your old devices. Let’s get started.
Also read: A guide to buying a used phone
Should I sell my used phone?
First things first, let’s help you figure out if selling your used phone is the best decision. We’ll go over some pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking of getting rid of your used phone.
- Upgrading: Is your phone starting to slow down? Maybe you want a nicer, more powerful handset. High-end devices are expensive, though. Selling your used phone can help you cover the price of that shiny, new device.
- Downgrading: Maybe you’ve figured that the phone you have is actually a bit too much for your needs. After all, budget phones can perform great these days. If you’ve spent too much on your phone and think you can do great with a cheaper device, you can sell your device, buy the cheaper one, and likely have some cash leftover.
- Phones depreciate: Smartphones tend to depreciate quickly. The way the market goes, most devices are old news in a matter of months. This means that the longer you hold onto a phone, the less it’s worth and the less you can get for it. You’ll get more money for your used phone if you sell it ASAP.
- Software updates: Newer phones will receive updates for longer, especially when they come from leading brands that offer an update promise. For example, Samsung promises four generations of software updates and five years of security updates for popular devices. If your phone is reaching the end of its update lifespan, and you want to keep getting the latest updates, it’s best to get a newer phone.
- Giving your device a second life: If your used phone no longer makes you happy, remember the same doesn’t apply to everyone else. In fact, your device may make another person very happy. Giving it a second chance makes someone else’s life better, and it helps the planet indirectly, as reselling reduces the number of devices thrown away as trash.
- Try out new things: You’ll never know if you prefer something unless you try out the competition. Phones come from many manufacturers, offer different user interfaces, and follow different design languages. Selling your used phone can help you afford different phones so you can decide which you like better.
Sometimes we upgrade phones for simple vanity.Edgar Cervantes
- Is your phone still good?: There’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken. Sometimes we upgrade phones for simple vanity, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s a factor to be conscious of when making a financial decision. If your phone is still great, maybe you should consider keeping it.
- You’ll lose some money: As mentioned above, phones depreciate very quickly. This means that, no matter how fast you sell your device, chances are you won’t get even close to what you paid for it. It might be worth keeping it longer and enjoying it to the fullest, for as long as possible.
- You could use an extra phone: Having secondary phones around can be good. I like keeping a spare phone just in case my main one gets lost or damaged, for example. Having a second phone allows me to stay connected until I replace my primary device.
- Give it to your kids: Additionally, your used phone can find a second life within your household. Your kids might be needing a smartphone soon, so why not just give them one you already have?
- Privacy concerns: As we tell you in our guide to recovering deleted files, no file is genuinely deleted from your phone’s storage. With enough knowledge and effort, people can retrieve files from your used phone if they want to. This could be a huge privacy concern.
- Time is money: Selling a used phone requires time and effort. You might end up spending hours selling a phone. Depending on your financial situation, this is time you could spend working instead, and maybe making more money than you’ll get selling the phone.
- It could be dangerous: Selling a phone yourself often requires posting the product online and meeting up with strangers. You’re opening yourself up for theft or fraud. We’ll tell you more about staying safe and using safer alternatives later in this post.
What should I do before selling a phone?
So you’ve made up your mind and have decided to sell your used phone. Now it’s time to get ready for the transaction. Let’s start with a few preparations.
Determine your phone’s value
It takes a little research to find out how much your phone is worth. The easiest way to evaluate your device is by checking how much it’s going for on eBay. Simply go to eBay, and search for the phone you want to sell. Once you perform the search, head over to the filters. Checkmark Used under Condition. Then move over to the Show only section and checkmark Sold items.
Find devices that look to be in a similar condition and with the same specs as your used phone. You have to keep in mind your phone’s state, how it looks, if it has any cracks, etc. Try to check how much the latest sold devices went for, and that should be a reasonable estimate of how much you can expect to get for your phone.
If you think the amount of money is enough, then continue to the next steps.
Backup your phone
You probably don’t want to lose all your data. Photos, videos, contacts, and everything else you have on your device are very valuable. Make sure you backup all your data before you hand the device over to its next owner. We have a complete guide linked below, so check it out to learn all about backing up your current phone.
Read more: How to backup your Android phone
Perform a factory data reset
Now that all your files and data are safely stored, it’s time to finally wipe your device clean. The best way to do this is by performing a factory data reset. Doing this will clean up your phone’s storage and settings, taking it back to its original state. The phone will look and feel just as it did the first time you turned it on (software-wise). You’ll even have to go through the initial setup process again.
Before you factory reset, make sure to remove your Google account, otherwise the next user may not be able to use the phone.
You can perform a factory data reset by going to Settings > System > Reset options > Erase all data (factory reset) > Erase all data. Enter your PIN and confirm by hitting Erase all data. These instructions are good for a Pixel 4a with 5G running Android 12, though. Instructions may be different depending on your specific handset. Hit the link below for more info on factory resetting Android devices.
Take some nice pictures!
This is specifically a step you should take if you’re selling the device directly to another person, whether that be through eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, etc. Looks matter, so one more thing to do before selling your phone is to take some nice pictures of the device. You should make sure it looks nice, so clean it up and find a nice background. You should also make sure people can see the phone’s state. If there are any cracks or scuffs, you should ensure the customer can see them.
You should make sure the photos of the phone you're selling look nice, but also show its true state.Edgar Cervantes
You’ll need a well-lit area with nice aesthetics. Ideally, it should be clean and free of distractions, too. You should also make sure not to edit the images too much, as people might think you’re making your used phone look nicer than it actually is.
We have some great content for taking better photos, so check these articles out for extra tips:
How to sell my used phone
Now you’re ready to hit the open market! Let’s show you the best places to sell your used phone.
eBay is the most popular website for selling anything, including used phones. It has a broad audience, and you can offer your device to people across the country, and even outside the USA. You have a higher chance of selling your phone faster on eBay, simply because of its colossal userbase.
This also means you’ll encounter plenty of competition, though, as there are plenty of other sellers likely offering the same device out there. You’re literally competing with the whole world.
Additionally, eBay is pretty good at backing up customers and sellers should anything go wrong with the transaction. It’s not fool-proof, but at least there is an intermediary with a very solid reputation in between.
Those who prefer the good-ol’ face-to-face deals will love Craigslist. It’s a bit on the riskier side, but Craigslist is a very popular platform promoting local shopping. It’s also a widespread platform for scammers, fraudsters, and thieves to target. If you go this route, make sure to take precautions; we’ll give you some tips later in this post.
If you can handle your own in the open marketplace, some say there is nothing like a face-to-face deal, and Craigslist is all about that.
Facebook is quickly becoming a ubiquitous platform for selling used phones. It works similarly to Craigslist in that it promotes local deals, but also offers online payments and other tools for selling outside your area. Not to mention Facebook is yet another very popular platform. You can even offer your phone to your friends first, by creating a regular post before going to the Facebook Marketplace to sell your used device.
Swappa has become a very popular place for selling and purchasing used phones. You might prefer Swappa over other marketplaces like eBay, primarily thanks to how Swappa handles transactions. Swappa is a much more involved intermediary. It will verify every listing and make sure there’s nothing odd going on. If the buyer reports anything suspicious, PayPal ensures you are protected.
People commonly pay more here, mostly because of the peace of mind and multiple security layers. Just don’t be too trusting of everyone, regardless of how secure a site is. Our very own Andrew Grush once had to deal with Swappa and Paypal for months to get a refund for a phone that never arrived. In short: Swappa has your back, but resolving issues can take time.
Want to make things even safer and easier? Gazelle is one of the simplest ways to sell your used phone. Simply go to the official site, tell the company about your device and its condition, and get an offer. You usually won’t get as much as selling the used phone yourself, but it will save time and headaches, not to mention the process is as seamless as it gets. You’re technically selling the phone directly to Gazelle, a trusted company. They later worry about selling it.
You’ll get an offer right away, which you can choose to accept or decline. If you accept, you can ship the device for free and let the team inspect it. If everything is as expected, you’ll get your payment in the form of a check, PayPal transfer, or Amazon gift card.
You’ve probably seen these at your local stores. ecoATM has fancy-looking kiosks across the USA, where you can quickly sell your phones without even dealing with a representative. You simply take your phone to the kiosk, go through the on-screen process, and get your money in cash right there and then. It’s simple to lock in an offer through the website. This is by far the easiest way to sell your used phone.
Carriers and stores
Plenty of carriers and large stores offer trade-in programs. Of course, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are included. Additionally, you can trade-in your phone directly to Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon. These retailers make it very easy to get something for your used phone, but they also want to make a profit and will likely offer less than other platforms.
Other things to consider
If you’re meeting in person, make sure to take precautions. This will be helpful both for the seller and buyer, as it’s likely there will be a good amount of money changing hands. Never meet at home unless it’s too inconvenient to meet anywhere else. Exceptions might be when selling something that is very large, for example. This is never the case with phones, though. It’s always better to meet in a public place with plenty of people around you, during daylight hours, if possible. You can opt for a coffee shop, a crowded mall, the carrier store, or even outside the police station.
Taking precautions ensures the customer feels more comfortable, too. The above locations are all great places to test the device. The buyer can even activate the phone if you go to the carrier store.
Be honest and accessible
You’re selling your phone to get the most money you can get. Keep in mind the buyer is also making an investment, so make them feel comfortable. Be honest from the get-go. I am likely to not go through with any deal as soon as I notice a lie or any hidden information, as insignificant as it may be. The reasoning is that if a seller is willing to lie about a small thing, they’re likely to lie about more important matters too.
Related: The best shopping apps for Android
The buyer will want to know everything, so be open to any questions and doubts. Try to be friendly and understand that this investment might be a very important purchase. Additionally, it might make the buyer more comfortable if you leave them your contact info just in case anything goes wrong. Sometimes I tell people I will help them claim the warranty if they ever need it. I have never had to do it, but making yourself available helps people feel more secure about purchasing.
Should you be open to negotiations?
This is a very subjective matter, but we advise that you stay open to negotiations at least a bit. It’s recommended to keep in mind the cash amount you want to get, as well as how much you’re willing to let the phone go for, at a minimum. At the very least, it might open up some options if you’re struggling to sell your used phone for the price you prefer.
I am also commonly willing to negotiate the price if the buyer offers something, including convenience. I value my time and effort a lot, so I am more than willing to provide a discount if, for example, someone who lives far away is willing to drive closer to me.
It’s all relative, but whatever you do, always be respectful and friendly.
Now that you have the right tools, you’re ready to sell your phone safely. Are you looking for your next device? Take a look at our guides for finding the best Android phones, best budget phones, best camera phones, and the best budget camera phones. These should offer a good starting point for your new smartphone search.