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What to do with your old mobile phones

What to do with your old mobile phones

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Last updated: 08 July 2021

If you’re searching for the best mobile phone deals, you may be wondering what to do with your old handset. There are more mobile phones than there are people in the UK, meaning there are lots of handsets that aren’t being used. Phones are made using substances that can be harmful to the environment if they aren’t disposed of properly. So, it’s important that you dispose of your old mobile phone responsibly, whether you are recycling it or selling it on.

Mobile phone recycling: How does it work?

Most phones that are sent for recycling are refurbished, so their parts are checked over and fixed. If a phone is beyond repair or too old to be resold, its parts are extracted and taken apart. Phones contain lots of useful materials like plastic, and metals like platinum, gold, silver and cadmium, which can all be recycled.

There are plenty of companies out there that will recycle your mobile. Charities like Oxfam can recycle your phone, iPod or tablet. You can also pass on your phone online for free to recyclers like Freecycle or Freegle.

Some high-street shops will also provide envelopes that you can use. Geek Squad will let you drop off your old phone at Carphone Warehouse stores, where you’ll either get cash for your device, or a deposit towards a new handset.

If your unwanted mobile phone is low in value, for example if it’s an older model or damaged, then giving it for free to charity or a free site may be your best option.

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What steps should I take before recycling my phone?

Remove your SIM card

Your SIM contains personal information, like addresses and phone numbers, so make sure you hold on to it. Unless you switch mobile phone deals to a new network, you will need your SIM card to use in your new phone. If you do dispose of your SIM card, cut through the metal chip first.

Remove your memory card

A lot of phones use Micro SD cards to store photos and other media. You should keep your memory card because it can be used in your new mobile or in other devices like digital cameras.

Perform a factory reset

Over time, your smartphone has likely stored a lot of personal information, like passwords for your email or social media accounts. The browser may also still contain your history. You can remove all of this personal information by performing a factory reset.

Remove the PIN lock

If you’ve used a PIN code to lock your phone, you should remove it so that whoever takes on your old device can use it.

What should I do with my old charger?

When you sell your phone, you don’t normally need to provide the charger. However, most companies will recycle it for you if you like. Alternatively, you could always keep it as a spare, or sell it yourself on eBay.

How can I sell my old phone?

If you’re getting rid of a new, high-spec smartphone, then it might be better to sell it rather than recycle it, as you could get a lot of money back. There are plenty of online companies that will exchange your phone for cash - most websites will provide you with a quote based on your mobile model.

For you to be able to sell your phone, it must be in reasonable condition, with no more than a bit of cosmetic damage. You must also be able to switch it on! If your phone has barely been used, check how much more you’d get for a fully working model. Sometimes all you need to do is replace the battery, so it might be worth doing that to get more money when you sell it.

If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with a company, then you could always sell it on yourself:

  • Selling through eBay: You can often get a better price through eBay, but the nature of auctions means this is never guaranteed. Before you try eBay, it’s worth getting a quote on a recycler’s site first, to give you a rough idea of how valuable your phone is.
  • Selling to a friend: Deciding on a price can be tricky when dealing with friends. One idea could be to take the lowest recycler’s quote you can get and add 10%.

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Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.

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