Cash in on your old kit

Check how much your old handset is worth using one of the many mobile phone recycling websites. There are hundreds of these around: all the big networks are getting involved and, believe it or not, even Royal Mail has a presence in the sector. They all work in roughly the same way. Once you’ve registered and tapped in your phone’s details, the site will send you a prepaid jiffy bag in the post, in which you pop your handset and return. A few days later, a cheque will turn up in the post.

Cash in on your old kit

Don’t ignore straight trade-ins, though. London-based technology exchange firm CeX will buy your old phone for a set fee, depending on its condition. If you find something else that takes your fancy on the website your handset will fetch a higher price. Networks often offer their own trade-in schemes, writing off the cost of your old handset against a new model.

With such a slew of easy options, we don’t recommend selling phones on eBay. Although with popular models you may well be able to sell at a higher price, the increased risk of doing business with private buyers, not achieving your desired price and the 10% commission eBay levies on all sales (up to a maximum of £40), means it’s rarely worth the effort.

Maximising profits

With a smartphone, the trick is to maximise your profit. With so many sites, you may think this would be difficult: the reality is it’s child’s play. Go to a phone recycling comparison site (yes, they exist) – we prefer Sell My Mobile, but try others, just to make sure you’re not missing out; CompareMyMobile and MobileValuer both do a good job.

If you’re curious, you can use eBay’s advanced search to scan through completed listings to find out how much your phone might go for in an auction, but as we’ve already mentioned, it’s unlikely the higher price will be enough to offset the commission, shipping and inherent risks of auction selling.

So which phones are worth selling? To be frank, any you have lying around at home that you can find a deal on – only ancient handsets will be difficult to get rid of. However, there’s a big variation in the money you can expect. Not surprisingly, iPhones depreciate more slowly than rivals. For a two-year-old, undamaged 16GB iPhone 4, a phone-recycling site may stump up £240. At CeX, the same handset is worth up to £250, depending on condition.

Original packaging is less important to the recycling sites than it is to eBay buyers

A Samsung Galaxy S commands around £110, a Galaxy S II around £218, and if you have a Nokia phone hanging around, that may well be worth more than you think: the ageing N8 with its 12-megapixel camera commands a surprisingly high £94. BlackBerry handsets depreciate quickest of the major brands, it seems, with the Bold 9000 now worth a piddling £34.

The amount you can earn also depends on a handful of other factors. An unlocked phone will be worth a few more pounds than a locked one, and one that’s scuff-free will also gain you vital extra cash. Original packaging is less important to the recycling sites than it is to eBay buyers, but sometimes you can pick up a few extra pennies by chucking in the original headset and charger.

Even a broken or damaged handset can earn money. A non-working iPhone 4 at the time of writing was worth £95, so remember if you drop it on the floor, don’t just bin it.

Wiping the phone clean

Once you’ve decided which outlet offers the best price for your handset, don’t simply stick it in a bag and send it off. Unless you want the next person who uses it to have access to your photos, email and all the personal data held within, you’re going to have to reset the phone to factory settings and possibly take extra steps to make sure data can’t be recovered.

BlackBerrys and iPhones do this effectively, removing personal data automatically when reset to a factory state. However, many Android handsets can leave potentially sensitive data behind, which could be recovered using simple undelete tools such as Recuva.

To mitigate this threat, first remove the microSD card. Second, make use of any options the phone may offer to reformat SD storage as you reset. To make sure the internal storage is properly wiped, once you’ve finished resetting the phone, either fill all the available storage with random photos, or record a video until it’s full, then delete the files. This should ensure previously saved data is inaccessible to casual hackers. Finally, it also makes sense to change your Google password after selling the phone, to be on the safe side.


When you’re selling your old kit, it’s easy to overlook software simply because it’s intangible. You might also assume that, because software is almost invariably licensed and not sold, you’re not allowed to sell it on.

Unless you’ve entered into an agreement that specifically prevents it, it’s perfectly legal to sell your licence to someone else.

In fact, unless you’ve entered into an agreement that specifically prevents it, it’s perfectly legal to sell your licence to someone else. Some licences do prohibit or limit this, though. For example, OEM software – cut-price editions of applications and operating systems intended for system builders, or preinstalled on hardware – is typically licensed for installation on only one machine, with no subsequent transfers.

In all cases, you should check the terms of the licence agreement to find out what your rights are. This can be a pain if the licence is long or complex, but it isn’t something you can take for granted. If you try to sell software in a way that’s explicitly prohibited by the licence, you could get into legal trouble with the publisher of the software, or the person you sell it to. If you can’t find your copy of the EULA, it’s often available on the publisher’s website, and if the legalese is impenetrable, a quick phone call or online chat will normally clarify matters.

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