How to sell your used smartphone

Thanks to the smartphone industry’s now ubiquitous yearly refresh cycle, the longest you’ll have to wait for the latest smartphones is 12 months (unless you bought the last flagship Lumia). If you buy “off cycle” you could be looking at spending just months on the bleeding edge before your phone is rendered out of date.

If you’re anything like us (and you’re reading MobileSyrup, so we have to assume we’ve got some things in common), you’re hooked on the newest and shiniest gadget, including smartphones. Funding your habit can be expensive, but reselling your old device can go a long way toward off-setting the cost of your new phone and reducing the amount of e-waste plaguing our lovely planet.

The bright side of this yearly refresh cycle is that for every phone crazy gadget fiend, there’s someone willing to use last year’s tech to get a discount. You shouldn’t have any problems offloading your phone if you take the right steps to ensuring a quick sale. Here are some of our top tips for selling your used smartphone.


Keep your phone in good condition.

If you’re what’s affectionately known as “a dropper,” invest in a case right from the beginning. Any dings or scratches are going to bring the value down. Similarly, folks buying secondhand are wise to the fact that they’re not getting a brand new phone, but if you can offer them all the original cables and the original packaging, your listing is a lot more attractive.


Know what the phone is worth.

This is pretty easy to figure out and if you pick your moment, you can actually make a bit more money than someone else selling the same phone.

This is more an issue for Apple users than anyone else. However, while it’s true that the value of your iPhone 6 is going to drop as soon as the iPhone 6S is announced, it’s also true that demand for last-gen models is generally pretty strong right after the new phone is announced. It might sound inconceivable to junkies like us, but there are people out there are waiting for the unveiling of the new iPhone, just so they can buy the old one. I know.

The problem is that these people are also looking for a deal. They know there’s going to be an influx of people selling their current iPhone as they play their pre-order for the newest model. Those users can use an app like Orchard, which we’ve talked about before, to determine the best value based on market conditions, and phone condition.

For Android users, it’s a different story. Android phones typically don’t hold their value like iPhones, but you’re also not getting kicked in the crotch by Apple’s September/October refresh — new Android phones are released all the time.

This a game and it’s a gamble. Your best bet is to keep an eye on Redflagdeals, Craigslist or Kijiji for what you feel is a decent price. Look at every detail of the phones currently on sale. Are they in better condition? Do they have original packaging? Are they being sold with additional accessories? Can you charge more for yours if you throw in a case?


Get your phone unlocked if you can.

This one might not be so obvious, but it all goes towards upping the value of your phone. While some phones’ hardware may restrict their operation on other carriers, unlocking your device and listing all of the carriers on which it will work will increase your chances of selling your phone. You might need to pay a fee to have it unlocked (depending on how you do it) but you can always tack that onto the list price for the phone.


Wipe your phone. Then wipe it again.

You might think deleting all of your information and photos is enough, but it’s not. Last year, a report from Avast! revealed that many used phones purchased on eBay still contain private data belonging to the previous owner.

During their study (which involved purchasing 20 Android phones on eBay), Avast! researchers found 40,000 photos (from family photos to, um, those pics), as well as emails, text messages, contacts, and even loan applications. Before you list your phone for sale or turn it over to a third party, take steps to permanently delete your data. Deleting the files is not enough. You need to overwrite the data. You can do this with the free Avast! app on Google Play.

And remember to remove your SIM card and microSD cards from their respective trays. That happens more often than you think!


Offer proof the device isn’t stolen

You’re a good person. You want to give the buyer a good deal. Sometimes that might attract a skeptic who thinks your offer is too good to be true. From the outset, it’s always good to let potential buyers know if you have a receipt to prove you purchased the phone. If you don’t have that (or even if you do), it’s always a good idea to also provide the seller with proof that the phone hasn’t been blacklisted because it’s been reported stolen.

You can do this really, really easily via protectyourdata.ca. It’s a free service that the CWTA launched in partnership with Canadian carriers in 2013. All you have to do is enter your phone’s IMEI number into the filed provided. Include in the listing that you have this proof (no need to include a screenshot in your listing) and bring proof with you when you meet the seller.


Use a reputable online marketplace and know the risks

Redflagdeals, Kijiji, Craigslist, and eBay are all excellent examples of reputable businesses that have been around for a long time. There’s a reason everyone uses them. Don’t try to sell your phone on a random forum or in the comments section of a website. You won’t reach as many people.

We’d also advise against inviting anyone to your home to pick up a device, or meeting someone at their home. Stranger danger exists for a reason. Meet in daylight, in a public area if possible, and always try to bring someone with you.

Though most people trawling Kijiji are likely honest and really do just want to buy a phone, you could easily get ripped off, and having someone with you can prevent that. If it does go sour, the important thing to remember is that the $200 or $300 is not worth your safety. If someone threatens to harm you, your best option is to cut and run. It’s just a phone.

Got any other tips for selling your device? 

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