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Phone recycling: compare recycling services to get the most cash for your old mobile

Recycle your phone
(Image credit: Future)

Recycling your phone once your done with it can be a pain. You paid so much for it that you don't just want to throw it away but sometimes trying to sell it causes even more difficulties. Leaving you with the question...so how do I sell my phone?

Thanks to comparison sites, dedicated trade-in schemes and easy phone recycling systems done through the post, it's actually extremely easy to trade in your phone these days.

There are essentially two options when recycling your old phone - sell for cash or trade-in. If you decide to go for the cash, a website will give you a quote, you send it off and they'll put the money into your account, simple!

The second option is for those looking to buy a new device. With trade-in, companies like Samsung or Apple will offer you a certain amount off the price of a new SIM-free phone if you send them your old handset.

Both of these methods can score you a decent amount of money but there are many ways to do it. We've compared some of the best websites for recycling phones below. 

Where can I recycle my phone?

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SellMyMobile
SellMyMobile is easily one of the best options for selling your phone.

This is because the website acts as an aggregator, bringing in all of the major competitors who can sell your phone. This means you can see all of the best prices, TrustPilot scores, how long it will take for you to get paid and more. 

This is the service we would advise starting with so you can get an idea of what kind of prices different services offer. And the amount of cash on offer might just suprise you, too.

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eBay
eBay is going to be the obvious name when it comes to selling your phone. However, it's a bit of a mixed bag with no exact numbers provided for what you'll get and no determinable length of time for selling it.

However, for many people this will be a strong option to choose. It allows you to choose a price you are comfortable with and not have to give a massive cut to a company.

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Music Magpie
Music Magpie is another popular choice for recycling your phone. They buy (and sell) pretty much every phone you can think of, hitting all of the major Samsung, Apple, Google and Huawei devices.

Music Magpie in fact operates in almost the same way as SellMyMobile except for the fact that MusicMagpie is just one company whereas SellMyMobile provides multiple options.

This means while Music Magpie is a good service, it is worth using an aggregator like SellMyMobile to make sure you're getting the best price first.

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Mobiles.co.uk
While Mobiles.co.uk states that they operate trade-ins, it is a lot closer to recycling in its nature. It offers you the same three quality levels of phones - working, broken and new and will bank-transfer you the money if you decide to go with them. Mobiles.co.uk doesn't seem to offer quite as much as some other services though.

Phone trade in schemes:

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Samsung
Know you want to buy a device from Samsung? Going directly through the company can score you a pretty massive trade in value. Simply give Samsung your old device and they'll cut the value off your new purchase.

This can be especially useful when going for Samsung's flagships which can carry some pretty massive price tags these days.

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Apple
Just like with Samsung, Apple allows you to trade in your old device to cut your bills down on a new SIM-free purchase. The cheap iPhone SE or the massive and pricey iPhone 11 Pro Max - you can trade in on a host of Apple devices.

However, Apple only offers select (newer) devices on its website so its worth having a look whether the phone you're interested in has made the list.

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Carphone Warehouse
If you know you want to buy your next phone from Carphone Warehouse, using its trade in service can be an excellent way to save some money.

After doing this, you can then select a new device from Carphone at a seriously reduced price tag.

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EE
As the most popular network in the UK, it is pretty likely that a decent proportion of people will be getting their new phone through EE. 

If you're one of those people then making use of EE's trade in scheme could save you a decent chunk of cash.

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Vodafone
The second most popular network, Vodafone is likely to be pulling in some buyers who are looking to save some money on their next purchase.

Looking to by a 5G handset? Or something with unlimited data? It will likely charge you a lot so saving as much cash as possible is well worth it.

What to do before selling my phone?

Look around at your competition

You should take some time to see what price other people are selling your exact model of phone for to check you’re not going to be ripped off.

Something to bear in mind is the storage available in your phone. For example, if you own the 64GB Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, it’ll be worth more than the 32GB version, so it’s worth looking in the Settings on your phone to ensure you know what version you own.

Take a look at the recycling, auction and sale sites in the next section below to check how much your phone is worth before you start trying to sell it. Doing this may mean you can avoid getting screwed over.

Check over your device

This can be hard to do as you may realise your phone isn’t worth as much as you’d hoped. If you have damaged your device, make sure you’re clear about it with whoever you’re selling to.

If you try to cover up the condition of your device it may damage your reputation on auction websites and some deals will even be invalidated if you’ve lied.

Reset your phone

This is something a lot of people forget to do, but you have to make sure you’ve reset your device before you then sell it on. You can hard reset all modern smartphones, which means it will then delete all of your data that’s currently on there. 

Without doing this, whoever buys you phone may have access to your data, your private accounts and you’ll likely lose things in the process too. Before resetting your phone also make sure you’ve backed up any data you want to save to use on your next device such as music, photos and videos.

How much cash can I get for my old mobile?

It's hard to give an exact figure for selling your phone, especially because there are so many factors involved. However, using SellMyMobile, we can get some pretty accurate estimations of pricing:

*Prices correct as of writing

  • iPhone 7 32GB - working condition - £96
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB - working condition -  £111
  • iPhone 6 - 64GB - working condition - £47
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 - working condition - £65
  • iPhone X - working condition - £297
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus - working condition - £160
  • Huawei P30 - working condition - £175
  • Google Pixel 3 - working condition - £145

How does phone recycling work?

It's hard to give a concrete answer as every website/service will do it slightly differently, however there is a rough outline that we can look through:

1) Put in the details of your phone including its memory size, condition and model.

2) Decide a price. If you go through a site like eBay, you will have to choose what you want to sell it for whereas most other sites will give you a quote and you decide if you're happy with it.

3) Once you've decided a price, you agree with the website/buyer and sell it on. Obviously again websites like eBay will differ in sending something off but most websites will send you a kit to pack up your phone and send it over.

4) You'll receive an email from the company either agreeing the pre-agreed price or raising complaints which will lower your valuation. Once that is all agreed, your money will be sent over.

Can I recycle a phone that is completely broken?

This depends mostly on how broken your phone is. If it has a few scatches, some cracks, a fault part of even a fully smashed screen, you're in the clear.

However if you find yourself with a handset that is completely smashed to pieces and really not in a good way then you might struggle to recycle it or if you do, you will be getting a very small amount for it.

Alex Hughes

As the editor of all things broadband, SIMs and phone contracts, Alex is constantly scouring the internet to land you the best prices. Whether that be with the latest iPhones, breaking down how broadband works or revealing the cheapest SIM plans, he's got the know.