HOWTO: Sell Your Phone (or Other Gadget)

Category: Gadgets

Mobile phones become obsolete almost as fast as the news these days. If you like to stay on the bleeding edge, you'll upgrade your tech gadgets at every opportunity. But what's the best way to get cash for your used phone or other electronics, without getting scammed? Here are several ways you can sell an unwanted mobile phone, tablet, computer or other gear...

Selling Your Used Electronics

Are looking to sell your smartphone or tablet? Some carriers take used or older models as trade-ins, but they typically pay you with bill credits, not cash. Fortunately, there are several ways to turn your old phone into cold cash. If you have an unwanted tablet, Kindle, laptop, game console, or digital camera, you can sell those too. Here are some options to find out how much your items are worth, and sell them to the highest bidder.

Gazelle is one such option. Answer a few simple questions about your phone and get an offer for it. Mail your phone to Gazelle using their postage-paid label delivered to you electronically. When it passes Gazelle’s inspection, you receive money via check, Amazon gift card, or Paypal. Note that Paypal will take a cut of the money sent to you.

Sell Your Electronics for Cash

Gazelle takes tablets as well as phones of all operating systems. It also accepts iPads, iPods, and Apple TV devices. It does not accept desktop or laptop computers. I sold a used Motorola phone via Gazelle, and got a check in the mail 10 days later, for the agreed amount. You can buy used electronics from Gazelle, too. The company resells and re-buys a gadget until it cannot be sold anymore, then sends it off to a recycling center to be torn apart for its useable components. Gazelle is into both kinds of green: Money and Mother Earth.

Usell's motto is "The Most Money For The Least Effort" and deals in used phones, especially iPhones and Samsung models, and also deals in iPads, Macbooks, Apple Computers, Apple Watch, iPods, Tablets, Game Consoles, Cameras, and "Other Tech." That latter category includes Calculators, Camcorders, Computer Peripherals, Drones, GPS devices, Headphones, MP3 Players, Smart Home gadgets, Speakers, Vacuum cleaners, and Video Games.

I say “deals in” because Usell doesn’t buy anything; they act as a broker between device owners and a network of resellers. Usell takes information about your device; puts it out to resellers on its private network; and gets back to you with a list of offers, if there are any. If you accept an offer, you ship your phone to the reseller-buyer. Usell says you'll get paid within 15 days. They do have a rating system for the buyers, so be sure to choose one that has at least four stars and lots of positive reviews.

NextWorth is a similar service that buys used electronics for cash. They will purchase Apple smartphones, tablets, and smart watches. A few things that differentiate NextWorth (aside from the Apple-only focus) are their 30-day price lock on quoted offers, and the option to get paid via Paypal. They will also accept items for recycling that have no value, like really old cell phones.

With services like Gazelle, Usell, and NextWorth, it's important to be honest and realistic about the condition of your device. If you say it's "like new" and send them a scratched-up phone with no accessories, you're likely to be unhappy with the payment you receive. I suspect that a large portion of the unhappy customers of these services are those with unrealistic opinions about the condition of their gear.

Which Way Is Best?

By way of comparison, I got quotes from two of these services on a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone (64GB), in good but used condition. Gazelle offered $140, and Usell $151. An iPhone X (64GB) with a few scratches garnered an offer of $210 on NextWorth, $230 on Gazelle, and $355 on uSell. For some reason, the mobile carrier to which your phone is assigned makes a big difference. In my testing, Sprint phones were usually quoted at about 80% of the offers for the same phone on AT&T or Verizon. In a few cases, T-Mobile phones got significatly higher offers. Usell was the only one of these three that offered to buy a wide range of electronics.

Of course, you can always sell the device directly yourself. Craigslist is free; just post an ad in your local market, watch the offers flow in, pick a buyer and – go meet a stranger in a strange place with a few hundred bucks worth of gear in your hand? Yeah, you have to be careful. Stick to public places to make exchanges. I'd go with the police station parking lot, or someplace where there are obvious video cameras rolling. NEVER give a stranger your home address! Some people bring a large friend or two along. Under no circumstances should you deal in anything other than cash handed over in person; counterfeit check and money order scams abound on Craigslist. But thousands of phones and other electronic devices change hands safely via Craigslist every day.

If you don’t know what your used device is worth, eBay can help you find out even before you put an item up for auction. Among the many search parameters found on eBay, “sold items” is probably the most valuable. It will show you the true market value of items like yours that actually sold. With a good feel for what’s realistic, you can set your starting price low but not too low, high but not too high.

Cracked or scratched display? A chipped case corner? A phone that does not work at all? Not a problem; list it anyway and take what you can get. A lot of people buy damaged and non-working electronics for parts, or something.

Just don't be like the Australian woman who posted an online ad looking to buy two iPhones. She got a response, and met in a McDonald's restaurant with a seller offering "two Apples." She paid $1200, took the iPhone boxes home, and only later discovered they contained actual apples, instead of iPhones. Yes, it's a true story!

And then there's the sad story of Kelly Filkins, a 26-year-old woman who got slammed by Judge Judy for taking $476 dollars for a pair phones advertised on eBay, and mailing the buyer just a PICTURE of the phones. Watch this classic Judge Judy episode from 2007 for the greatest barbecuing of a dumb crook in the history of television. Ms. Filkins was jailed on fraud charges, lost custody of her kids, and died a few years ago.

Have you sold a used phone? Tell me about your experience by posting a comment below...

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Most recent comments on "HOWTO: Sell Your Phone (or Other Gadget)"

Posted by:

05 Nov 2019

When I purchase an iPhone, I meet the seller ONLY at an Apple store where the ppl in the Apple store go over the phone from top to bottom for FREE! Then they transfer the data from your old phone to your new one, again For FREE! Then Apple will even help you later with your “new to you” tech problems if needed.

Posted by:

John Cusick
06 Nov 2019

I use

Posted by:

Marge Teilhaber
20 Nov 2019

Loved that Judge Judy clip. Wow. I'm nearing the end of the 4th year of using my iPhone 6s and it's just fine. My life is on the computer, not the phone, so I might get quite a few more years from the 6s. (Never shop or buy anything on the phone, for instance. I do that stuff at home on my desktop.) Great article which I'll save for when I do need to replace my 6s. Thanks, Bob!

Posted by:

22 Nov 2019

I also use I've never sold through them, but I have bought many (8, I think?) cell phones.

Posted by:

Mike Davies
31 Dec 2019

I use an old phone as a digital photo frame, I set it to "random".

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