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The best way to sell your old smartphone

Recycle or sell? We look at the best ways to make the most money from your old mobile phone

Recycling Week is upon us, and in the spirit of looking after the environment we’ve rounded up ways you can safely recycle your smartphone and make some money along the way.

Whether you’re looking to help cut the cost of premium smartphones like the iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy S8, or simply have a smartphone lying around collecting dust, there are plenty of companies willing to pay good money for an old phone. We’ve run the numbers to identify the most profitable ways to sell, and identified the big-name smartphones that are the quickest to decrease in value when you sell them second-hand.

Best Buy smartphones – see this year’s must-have mobiles

To see just how much money you could make from selling your smartphone, we put together a list of some of the most popular mobile phones released over the last three years and took a look at how much you could get for them.

Our full list consists of 2014’s Apple iPhone 6 (16GB), 2015’s Samsung Galaxy S6 (32GB) and four mobiles from 2016: the Apple iPhone 7 (32GB), Samsung Galaxy S7 (32GB), Google Pixel (32GB) and Huawei Mate 9 (64GB).

Phone recycling services

First up, recycling. We paid a visit to four well-known websites that buy used technology: Mazuma, musicMagpie, Envirophone and 02 Recycle, and found an average price for trading your phone in for cash. Here’s what we found:

A look at the numbers shows that the value of the Huawei Mate 9 has plummeted since its release last year. While it cost £579 Sim-free at launch, you’ll only get £100 if you sell it online, which is an 80% drop in value. Apple’s iPhone 7 has held its value the best of the phones featured, but it’s only a year old.

Selling your smartphone on Ebay

You could potentially make more money if you sell through Ebay. Phone recycling websites will buy your mobile for a fixed fee, but listing your mobile on Ebay could see several buyers outbidding each other to raise the final price.

We ran through the same list of smartphones to see how much people were selling them for on the auction site. For each model in our list, we used five of the lowest ‘Buy It Now’ listings to find a conservative price you can expect to get for your old phone.

In every case, the average Ebay price is higher than the price offered by phone recycling websites. Recycling sites will buy an iPhone 6 for around £130, but they’re selling on Ebay at closer to £160.

You can try selling your Samsung Galaxy S7 for £150 through 02 Recycle, or use Ebay where the average ‘Buy It Now’ price is £320. And as for that Huawei Mate 9? The average Ebay listing price is £253 higher than the figure offered by recycling services.

Ebay users are used to seeing smartphones sell for a little more cash, so even though it’s a bit more hassle, we suggest you try your luck on the auction site before selling to a recycling website – especially if you have a phone that shows higher depreciation. You can also throw in some extra goodies (phone cases, VR headsets) to tempt buyers.

Not sure which phone to spend your money on? Read our guide to How to choose the best mobile phone.

Reliable smartphone brands

If you’re buying a smartphone that you plan on selling further down the line, you’ll want a mobile that’s reliable.

Our smartphone reliability survey, based on feedback from over 3,000 Which? members, uncovers the handsets likely to stand the test of time. This year’s top performer has an overall reliability score of 93%, while the lowest-placed brand scores just 73%. To see the full results of our survey, see our guide on the most reliable mobile phone brands.

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