Ask LH: Where Should I Sell My Old Phone?

Dear Lifehacker, With the iPhone 6 coming out next week, where is the best place to sell my old iPhone and other tech gear? Thanks, Switching Up

Picture: Getty Images

Dear SU,

If you’re looking to upgrade your phone (iPhone or otherwise) and you don’t have a relative clamouring for your old device, selling it makes sense. It gives you extra funds to pay for your new purchase, which is especially helpful if you want to avoid being locked into a contract and plan to buy your new gadget outright.

Which option works best will depend on what you own, the condition it’s in, and how much effort you’re willing to make. Realistically, if your phone is broken or several years old, selling it is unlikely to pull in much money and you’ll be looking at recycling. Assuming it’s still working, you have three basic choices: a trade-in with a carrier, a buyback site, or selling it yourself. Let’s examine each one.


[related title=”iPHONE 6″ tag=”iphone-6″ items=”4″]Both Optus and Telstra offer the option of trading in your phone at a store at the same time you sign up for a new contract. There’s a maximum value of $250 (and realistically you won’t score that unless you have a near-new looking and very recent phone with all the accessories).

There are two potential downsides to this approach. The first is that you have to sign up for a 24-month contract, so it’s no help if you’re looking for an outright buy. The second issue is that if you have a relatively recent phone in good condition, you might be able to get more than $250 for it via other channels. The first place to check is with buyback sites.

Buyback Sites

Buyback sites all work in the same way: you enter details on the buyback company’s site to generate a quote, send in your device (along with accessories and packaging if you have them) using a freepost envelope, and they pay you for it once the phone is received (usually via a direct deposit or cheque). The phones themselves are then either resold by the buyback company or cannibalised for parts. Some buyback sites will accept a limited range of tablets or laptops, but this is largely a phone market.

Prices vary hugely on buyback sites, so it’s worth checking them all (we have a handy worksheet to automate that process). To demonstrate the point, let’s look at what each site offer for a 16GB iPhone 5 with original accessories and packaging and in good condition right now:

Site Quote
Boomerang Buyback $238.00
Bounce Mobile $215.00
Cashaphone $230.00
Fonebank $200.00
Mazuma $180.00
Money4Mobiles $230.00
Mobile Monster $250.00

There’s a big variation here, so shopping around makes sense. Note also that with these kinds of prices, if you had a higher capacity iPhone 5 or a 5S then taking up the telco trade-in offers is likely to short-change you.

Sell It Yourself

The third alternative is to sell your phone yourself using eBay, Gumtree or the like. While this involves more effort, the rewards can be much greater.

Case in point: an Australian seller on eBay recently sold an iPhone 5 16GB (the same model as discussed above) for $250 — and it wasn’t in fully working order. For more recent phone models, the gap can be even greater. For laptops and tablets, selling yourself is also likely to be your best choice, since buyback choices are more limited.

Ultimately, it’s down to you which approach you take — but do some research so you maximise your return. Good luck!


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