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What to Do With Your Old Phone


Your old cell phone provided plenty of use, but it’s time to buy a new one. Perhaps the battery no longer fully charges. Maybe newer models have more memory, better cameras, or features you need. Either way, it’s time for a new phone. Which leaves you with a bit of a problem: What to do with an old smartphone?


Sure, you could just pitch it, but tossing out a usable cell phone seems like a bit of a waste. There are so many things to do with an old cellphone, including selling it, donating it to a worthy cause, or repurposing your old phone to make your life a little easier. Here’s what to do with an old smartphone.

Trade Your Old Cellphone In

Trading in your old cellphone can help you pay for a new phone. Stores may provide trade-in credit on the spot, or ask you to send the phone in through the mail, after which they reimburse you with a gift card you can use to buy phone accessories. 

Repurposing an Old Cellphone

If your old cell phone still works, you might be able to repurpose it. Some people use their old phone as an alarm clock or download an app to use it as a television remote. With the right apps, you can use an old phone as a baby monitor or as a video security device. If you like to fiddle with electronics, there are hundreds of DIY projects online that use old phones. 

Hand It Down

If your kid’s been begging for a phone, but you aren’t ready to buy a new phone for him or her, why not give them the old phone? You’re providing your child an opportunity to prove they can use a phone responsibility. If they can use the old phone without breaking it, losing it, or violating the rules for phone use you set out, they’re probably ready for their own phone. And if not, you’re not out of pocket.

Keep an Old Cell Phone as a Spare

Accidents happen. Sometimes phones get lost, broken, or stolen. If you keep your old cellphone as a spare, you always have a backup. Even if the phone isn’t activated, it can still connect to 911, so as long as it’s charged you can keep it as an emergency phone in the car or home.


Cell Phone Donations

There are many people out there who could use a phone but cannot afford one. Old cell phone donations can help women in domestic abuse shelters reach out to family and friends, or help the homeless find employment.


Multiple charities accept cell phone donations, including Cell Phones for Soldiers and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Verizon’s HopeLine. Your local shelters may also be willing to take an old cellphone to help one of their clients. 

Where Can I Sell My Old Cell Phone?

Selling your old cellphone is a little more complicated than trading it in, but can result in you getting more cash. A number of websites allow you to make money from old phones, such as Gazelle and SellCell. Such sites buy your old cell phone from you and then sell it themselves.


You can also get money for old phones by selling them on eBay or Craigslist, which means you won’t have to sacrifice a portion of the sale to a website seller. This does, however, mean you’re responsible for all aspects of selling the phone, including meeting the buyer or arranging for shipping.

How to Recycle Old Phones

If your old phone is completely broken, you should consider recycling it. A number of organizations recycle old cell phones, reclaiming expensive metals from the device, and reducing electronic waste.


Not all organizations that recycle old cell phones are reputable. To be sure your old phone is properly recycled, check out the EPA Electronics Donation and Recycling Page to find an option that will dispose of your old phone.