What do you do with your old phones?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| April 24, 2014


Upgrade time can be a really exciting time. Whether you’ve been waiting two months or two years, it’s almost always a treat to go pick up a brand new phone. Still, once you get that new phone in your hands, what happens to the old one? Do you usually trade it in, does it sit in a drawer somewhere, or does it become the next hand-me-down for somebody else?


My old phones never really have a set purpose. It depends on the phone. If I really liked the phone and I’m only upgrading because I’m an impatient person, the phone usually sits on standby, because more than likely someday down the line that fresh “new phone” feeling is going to get stale and I’m going to want to change things up a bit. Phones that have served me well and stayed up to date usually get to stick by me, both for entertainment and for those “just in case” scenarios.


I used to be a pretty big advocate of trading in phones, but these days? Not so much. It might have been because when I used to trade in phones I was a teenager and whatever money was going towards my new phone seemed like an awful lot to somebody who was making weekend minimum wage earnings. When I really realized that trade-ins were hardly worth it was when I started working for Sprint. Honestly, some of the values of even some of the most pristine phones weren’t worth the trade-in value being offered - some of them around $10 or less. Other times, you could bring in a totally smashed phone and get $100 or so (usually an iPhone). Everything else? Hardly ever worth it. Most people could usually make triple that amount, or at least sell it to somebody who actually needed it for more than pocket change.


It’s not often you probably think about what you do with your phone once it’s old news, but it’s something I thought about once I heard about OnePlus’s new promotion for the release of their “One” tomorrow: 100 lucky people will get the chance to purchase the OnePlus One device for just $1 - as long as they smash their current phone first.


I think I was a little surprised, maybe even put off by the promotion a little bit. My hope is that people will smash phones that don’t work (and hopefully remember to take the battery out first); still, I can’t help but feel that the promotion is just a little bit... wasteful? I mean, I realize that it’s only 100 phones, but I feel like phones usually have a usage beyond just wanting a new phone. Even just using the phone for harvesting parts is reason enough not to completely smash it to pieces. I could see where it sounds fun, in theory, but I just don’t see how it’s necessary in order to get a $1 phone. Settling or not, somebody, somewhere, could use that phone for something I’m sure.


We’ll see how the promotion turns out, but quite frankly I wish that that OnePlus would have done something more resourceful with the old phones instead of smashing them. Recycling them, donating them, repurposing them somehow; there are just so many ways to make an old phone useful!


Readers, what do you end up doing with your old phones? Do you recycle them, sell them, keep them around - maybe even smash them for a shot at a ridiculously cheap phone with top-notch specs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images via Green-Mom, DeKalb Township

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