How To Sell Or Recycle Your Old Phone

How To Sell Or Recycle Your Old Phone

You’ve moved on to your new phone. What to do with the old one? Don’t just trash it; sell it off for a profit or send it off for recycling. Here are your options.

Phone recycling picture from Shutterstock

Sell It

If your phone is in relatively good condition, selling it can help you recoup your initial investment. Standard pro tip: when your phone is new, make sure you retain all the packaging. That helps when it comes to reselling it.

You have two fundamental choices here: you can sell the phone yourself through an online marketplace, or trade it in through a phone resale site. Selling it yourself will generally score you more money, but involves more effort: you have to photograph it, list it, deal with potential buyers, and organise despatch. Sites that purchase your phone are far less hassle — you specify the condition, accept a quote, and send the phone off — but you’ll make less money as a result.

If you decide to sell yourself, a handful of sites dominate. Despite its increasing emphasis on “professional sellers” and recent fee hikes, auction site eBay remains the biggest online second-hand market in Australia. Big audiences equal higher odds for a sale.

If you want a less formal setting, eBay-owned Gumtree is also a popular alternative. Other options include Quicksales, Craigslist, or using your own social networks (if all your Twitter followers are phone freaks, it can be a surprisingly useful outlet).

Whichever venue you choose, check current listing prices to get a realistic idea of what you’ll be able to sell for. Very new phones can sell for surprisingly close to market price, but values drop rapidly after the first six months on the market. Network-locked phones will go for less. Remember to fully wipe your phone before sending it off.

If all that seems like too much effort, one of the automatic phone resale sites will do the job, though you will definitely get less money. These sites all work on the same basic model: specify what phone you have and what condition it’s in, get given a price, send it in to a freepost address, wait for your payment. Given that near-identical business model, the logical approach is to check them all and choose the best price:

Recycle It

If your phone is heavily damaged or seriously ancient, selling it may be pointless. Don’t just throw it in the bin; that’s environmentally unsound. Having it recycled is not difficult.

As we’ve noted before, the dominant provider in this area is MobileMuster. You can print a freepost label from the site to send your phone back, or drop it off in Australia Post outlets, councils and many phone retailers. That’s minimal effort to ensure your phone doesn’t simply end up as landfill without its still-useful components being redirected.

Other recycling options involve any funds raised from the phone going to a specific charity. Your options here include ARP, They’re Calling On You and YouCan.


  • Most new phones these days come with a postage paid return recycling bag for your old phone thankfully, so I think most people are pretty aware of recycling (whether they still do or not)

    • I’ve never once had that… maybe it’s the store you’re buying it from that provides the bag, not the phone makers?

      • Seriously? Seems strange, I bought even a $20 backup phone the other day from a petrol station that came with one – and both my Galaxy S 1 and 2 did, as well as my Lumia 920. They were in some instances quite hidden under the packaging though I guess, but I always tear the box open looking for hidden goodies!

        I guess your state maybe hates recycling. Must be a bloody NSW’er. xD

        • Nah, WA. And admittedly I buy phones very rarely, and I’ve been locked into iPhones for quite a long time now… Actually, I think my last two phones were bought from either an Optus store or from the website – so I blame Optus 😛

          PS – A NSWer?!? You insult me, Sir! I’m from WA. The reason we don’t recycles isn’t because we’re self centred and wasteful like those from NSW. No, we don’t recycle because we only discovered electronics last year – it’ll be a few more decades before we discover recycling 😉

    • Mobilemuster manufacturer members Nokia, Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola and ZTE (through Telstra) all include reply paid recycling satchels – plus you can pick them up at most Australia Post outlets – just ask at the counter if they arent near their phone display – or you can download a postage paid mailing label at

      • Ahh cool, same company mentioned in the article! Good info, cheers.

  • Or give it to someone who needs it.
    There is always someone who just dropped their phone/ travelling and needs a handset to make calls within Australia/too poor. Just give it away and enjoy the feel good vibes that come with helping someone out.

  • Note the phones you give/donate to “ARP, They’re Calling On You and YouCan” to help raise funds are not recycled for materials but instead sold overseas. That is how they help the charities raise funds by sharing the profits from the sale of the mobile phones into developing countries.

    MobileMuster is the only program that actually dismantles and recycles mobiles and mobile accessories like chargers for material recovery, None of the mobiles or accessories are sold for reuse, all are recycled in a safe, secure and ethical way, with more than 90% of the materials being recovered to make new products. The program is funded by its members including Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Huawei, HTC, ZTE, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and Force Technologty who pay a levy on every new handset they import into australia before it is sold. Check out our short video “The Promise”

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