How to Sell Your Old iPhone or Tablet for the Most Money

If you’re sitting on a pile of old phones, tablets, or computers, now’s the best time to sell them for cash.

Technically, this is still true, as used electronics depreciate over time. But refurbishers say continued chip shortages have boosted the value of some hard-to-find electronics, particularly iPads and Apple Watches, raising the price they’ll pay even for older models.

Meanwhile, the electronics buyback market is gradually becoming more competitive for buyers and sellers. Gizmogo launched in 2020 with a focus on convenience – it provides prepaid shipping boxes and accepts broken products – and The Swap Club created a way to swap between used iPhones earlier this year. The refurbished technology marketplace, Back Market, has also just entered the buy-back business, connecting buyers directly to refurbishers with fewer middlemen.

This all comes amid a boom in used smartphone sales, with IDC reporting that 19% of smartphone shipments worldwide in 2021 were used, up from 17% in 2020. But to take advantage, more consumers need to realize that they should sell their used equipment in the first place.

“These are commodities, and they lose value every day,” says Scott Walker, president of refurbisher D2C+. “If you leave it in your drawer for a year, you’ve probably lost 70% of its value.”

What your used tech is worth

The process for selling your old devices is similar on most buy-back sites: enter or select the type of device you have, answer a few questions about its condition, and agree to reset the device or disable device locks. activation before shipping. Most sites will provide a prepaid shipping label, but you may need to provide your own box. In most cases, you don’t have to provide the original charger or packaging. Sites like SellCell and Flipsy can sift through multiple buyback sites and tell you which ones are making you the most money (although neither show Back Market results).

But how do redemption sites arrive at the selling prices they offer? Refurbishers say it’s simply a matter of supply and demand, depending on what sites like Amazon and eBay charge for used or refurbished equipment.

Nick Skelly, the president of Maryland-based refurbisher Simple Cell, says he works backwards from there, factoring in things like the condition of a phone and the fees of any site that he buys and sells. He maintains an extensive database of devices and their value, and in the case of Back Market, an automated system allows him to bid on used inventory based on the maximum price he’s willing to pay.

And iPads are especially hot right now, he says, due to supply shortages for the latest model. While it’s not impossible to buy a new iPad, inventory has been tight, causing intermittent delays at some retailers, including the Apple Store. These types of interruptions, even slight ones, can increase the used selling price of older models.

“You can redeem Back Market right now and probably sell your iPad 7 or iPad 8 for 80% of the price you bought it for,” Skelly says. “If you need an iPad or if you need a replacement, you have to buy it somewhere.”

Apart from these odd circumstances, the value of used equipment naturally decreases over time as new products are released. A study last year by tech buyout site Decluttr found that iPhones lost an average of 49% of their trade-in value one year after launch and 66% after two years, while Samsung phones lost 65% and 79% after one and two years, respectively.

But as you’d expect, the condition of a device can have a major impact on those trade-in values. Skelly says that on Back Market, the difference between a phone in good condition and one in excellent condition can be up to 30%. In comparison, features like extra storage, extra memory, or device color don’t matter as much.

“Once you get past the function, the condition is 100% what determines the value,” he says. “Nobody wants to buy a phone with scratches on the glass or that’s damaged. They want that new feeling for less.

Bring your broken gadgets

Although a damaged device may not fetch as much as a blank device, that doesn’t mean you should avoid selling it. Some refurbishers specialize in repairing or finding a home for them, and a more competitive buy-back market could help these devices bring in more money than before.

Scott Walker of D2C+ notes that technology buyback services have traditionally not looked at devices with major issues. Their model is to buy many electronics and then wholesale them to other markets. They are therefore mainly looking for phones and tablets that do not require expensive repairs.

By contrast, he’s cultivated a huge network of mom-and-pop repair shops who want to harvest broken phones for parts. Because Back Market allows it to purchase these devices directly from consumers, it can preserve its own profit margins while offering a competitive buyback price. A five-year-old iPhone with a broken screen, he says, could still be worth $20 to $30, more than most other buyback sites.

“What they’ve done is they’ve shaved off several segments of the supply chain by doing this, and therefore cutting costs in the process of reselling the phone,” Walker says.

He always suggests shopping around before settling on a buyback site, and you can always consider listing your device on Swappa, eBay or Facebook marketplaces if you don’t mind selling directly to other users. The biggest limitation of the Back Market buyback program in its early days seems to be the lack of refurbishers; many product searches return without any offers.

Over time, however, Back Market says its goal is to beat other buyback sites on what it offers consumers for their used devices. Lauren Benton, managing director of Back Market’s US operations, says he is always monitoring other sites to see if he can do more to create a more competitive market.

“We are monitoring this very closely to understand if we are not performing against another site that is. [a buyback] program,” Benton says.

Simple Cell’s Nick Skelly says he’s already seeing results. Although he hasn’t bought many devices through Back Market yet, the money customers receive is more than he thinks they would get if they sold their used devices elsewhere. It also costs him less since he obtains the devices directly from consumers, and can then refurbish and resell them without wasting time or going through additional intermediaries.

“They close the circle of the circular economy. We are able to find and buy devices, then resell them in the same market and get them into the hands of consumers,” he says. “That’s the whole circle right there.”

Leave a Comment