As more carriers turn to financing phones instead of subsidizing, staying on the bleeding edge of phone releases these days comes with bigger investments.
So how do you keep up with the latest and greatest smartphones without breaking the bank?
Turns out the answer might already be in your pocket.
While many carriers will offer trade-ins on phones after your contract is up, selling your gently used phone yourself is the best way to get the cash needed to fund an upgrade.
It’s a win-win deal.
Not only do you upcycle the phone to someone who will use your phone instead of letting it collect dust in a drawer, you might just be surprised how much last generation’s flagship phones retain their value.
In an age where flagship phones are touting more cores, ever expanding RAM and screens that rival your laptop or computer, the specs on older phones are still more than enough for the average user.
Sufficient enough they still fetch a very nice price on the second-hand market.
How Much Is My Old Phone Worth?
That depends on the device. However, just because your phone is a few years old doesn’t mean that it’s worthless.
Flagship devices from leading manufacturers--Samsung Galaxies, HTC Ones, LG Gs and Apple phones--are where the money is at.
Apple prices appear to be the most stable. This is partly because launch prices on many Android handsets vary from generation to generation.
Regardless, if your phone is in good condition, even a phone from a few generations back can net your $100+. Sticking with newer devices, the price can double or triple.
When Is The Best Time To Sell My Phone?
So how do you figure out the best time to pull the trigger and make the swap? It’s all a matter of timing.
One of the most important considerations is phone releases.
If you’re looking to upgrade, getting rid of your phone before the next releases can make a huge difference.
Better yet, if you can sell before the release and use a backup phone until a few months after release you can sell high and buy low for considerable savings.
Other than timing, it is a numbers game.
Is it better to upgrade every year when you can ask the highest price for your used phone? Should you keep those consumerist urges in check and try to limit your upgrades to every 2 to 3 years?
Writer Whitson Gordon of LifeHacker wondered the same thing and found the data that would answer this question.
He shared his findings in his recent article. His answer?
“At the end of the day, the differences aren’t enormous—selling every three years only gets you an extra $100-$200 after six years, depending on where you sell. If you’re the frugal type, maybe that’s a lot to you. But if you like upgrading, $15 to $30 per year is a small price to pay for always having the latest phone. You just need to sell your old one and keep it in good condition.”
Where Is The Best Place To Sell?
So that brings up one last question: Where is the best place to sell your phone?
There are plenty of options available for getting rid of your unwanted items on the Internet. For high-ticket items the best resale sites are those with the smallest fees.
While fees might not seem to high with any of these options, let’s be honest, this isn’t the last time you’ll be upgrading.
Consider those fees for a fourth or fifth time when the latest must-have device releases and you’ll see them in a whole new light.
This immediately eliminates eBay off the list options. With their price-based fees, a bidding frenzy just might help eBay more than you.
Amazon, Gazelle and Orchard are in the middle of the pack. While they make selling your phone easy, they aren’t shy about dipping into your earnings when you complete the sale.
Your best options are to put in a little more effort and sell your phone through Craigslist, Swappa or even find a friend or co-worker looking for an upgrade.
While it might take a little more effort, you’ll get to keep a far larger portion of your sale price to put toward your upgrade.
If you can't find a place offering a great price for your phone, you might consider donating it or recyling it instead. You might also be able to put it to good use a smart home controller, baby monitor, or retro gaming device.
So there you have it! If you’re looking to keep up with the latest and greatest, keeping your phone in good condition pays off. So does knowing where to sell it for minimal fees.
Finally, unless you’re looking to only upgrade when your phone it is nearing relic status, there isn’t a sweet spot in staying up to date--especially outside of the Apple ecosystem.
We’d love for this article to be as valuable as possible for the community and anyone out there trying to save the most on upgrading or maximize the value of their smartphones. To do that, we need your help.
Here’s what you can do to get involved:
1. Ask Questions. Post them in the comments of this post.
2. Share Your Experience. If you have anything to add, share it in the comments below. Did we miss anything you would consider? How often do you upgrade your phone? Do you even see a reason to upgrade with the power of current devices? We'd love to hear from you!
3. Tell Your Friends. Share this on Facebook or Twitter.
P.S. If you’re looking to find the best new smartphone for you, we’ve got reviews on the best phones including in-depth review summaries.