Make money from your old mobile phoneWhich? and Daybreak investigate phone recycling

21 September 2011

Mobile phone recycling

Rather than throwing away your old phone you can recycle it and make money

A joint Which? and Daybreak investigation has found that it’s simple to recycle old or unwanted mobile phones - and it can pay you significant amounts of money.

Yet while the media is full of adverts from websites such as Mazuma and Envirofone inviting us to sell our old phones for cash, we found that you can make more money by using eBay - or even by selling your phone on the high street.

Our research

It's estimated that there are millions of old phones in the UK. And with consumers feeling the pinch in the face of the economic crisis, Which? decided to team up with ITV's Daybreak programme to see whether it was possible to make money from unwanted mobiles.

To find out we sent brand new iPhone 4 and older Samsung U800 Soul handsets to five online recycling sites (Envirofone, Fonebank, Mazuma, Mobile Phone Xchange and Sell Old Phone). We then recorded how much each site paid us, how long it took to receive our payment, and how easy the sites were to use.

To find out if we could make more money from other sources, we also listed our mobile phones with online auction site eBay and took them to high street retailer CeX.

Which? findings

We found that the specialist recyclers were generally easy to use and we received cheques from most of them within a week (Envirofone took 11 days and Sell Old Phone 28 days).

However, they tended to pay similar amounts, and we made more money by selling our phones through eBay.

Our premium model, the 16GB iPhone 4, sold at auction for £370 and though we had to pay £38.40 in eBay fees (higher if you choose to use online payment service PayPal) this still gave us a return of £331.60. Even our budget model, the Samsung U800 Soul, sold for £36, giving a return of £32.28.

In contrast the most we received from the specialist websites was £270 and £12 respectively, both from Fonebank.

Listing our phones on eBay involved a little bit of effort, especially if you’ve not used the site before. And you need to take sensible precautions to avoid being scammed - but if you want the maximum reward for your phone then we found it the best choice.

Surprisingly, we also made more money by selling our phones on the high street than we did by using the online recycling sites, with national chain CeX paying £306 for our iPhone and £17 for the Samsung. Doing the deal in person meant that we could change our mind at any point and we also got our money on the same day, though we did have to wait a couple of hours while our phones were tested.

Mobile phone recycling advice

If you decide to cash in on your old phone, then always remove your Sim card and delete any personal details stored on the phone. The easiest way to clear your phone of all data is to perform a factory reset on your phone before selling it – you should find that option in the phone settings.

Read the T&Cs on online auction sites and phone buying websites thoroughly and make sure you package the phone carefully – if it gets damaged in transit you might find you get paid less than you were quoted. And send high value phones by special delivery. It will cost more but you'll be insured if anything goes wrong.

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