How to Sell Old Devices

September 18, 2013

5:00 pm

In terms of new products released within any given year, the electronic gadgets market has a high turnover rate, with both newer and upgraded versions of phones, tablets, and computers coming out every few months. If and when you decide you want upgraded technology, you then have to decide when and if you are going to actually buy a newer device – should you preorder the iPhone 5S, or wait a few months to see whether Apple will announce the iPhone 6?

When it comes to getting rid of your old (or current) gadgets, you can either choose to sell them for cash or trade them in for credit. Prior to considering whether or not to sell an older gadget, visit and check whether it’s even (financially) worth it to sell any one particular product.

Here are the three steps you need to take in order to prep and sell old devices.

1. Clean the external surface(s) of that device

There are several guides or how-to’s across the Internet that provide you with steps and guidelines on how to clean the external sections of various devices. You can obviously easily search for these methods yourself, but I’ve provided some general tips on what to do and what not to do, below.

  • Before cleaning your device, disconnect it from any external power sources or other devices and cables attached.
  • Turn off your device and remove the battery.
  • Use a microfiber cloth, as it’s static- and fiber-free. As a general rule, aim for non-abrasive cloths. Don’t use dish towels, paper towels, or other paper-based products, as you risk scratching surfaces and leaving lint.
  • If you plan to use any liquids in cleaning your device (such as a special cleaning solution/spray specifically for certain devices – NEVER use window cleaner or other harsh chemicals), keep the liquids away and make sure not to get any moisture into any openings.
  • If dirt from your device isn’t easily removed with a first clean-through using just the cloth, apply a small amount of liquid on the cloth, just enough to get it moist.

2. Wipe personal data and restore to factory settings

This is, by far, the most important step before selling your old devices. Skip this step and you risk getting your personal information stolen (or, I guess, in this case, you will have sold it to someone).

  • Logging out of apps or programs on devices does NOT count as deleting your personal data.
  • In that same vein, deleting apps or programs does not delete your personal data from the device. Deleting is not erasing – that’s basically akin to throwing out your trash and pretending as if no one has the opportunity to steal or take from it (hello, dumpster divers!).
  • Depending on your technical skill and the kind of device you plan to sell, you can physically remove the hard drive from your device. Keep in mind that your decision to do this will affect the value for which you sell the device, or even ruin a product’s eligibility for certain trade-in programs.
  • Reset your device to factory settings, otherwise known as a hard reset. In theory, this should remove all of your data from the device without messing with any of the hardware, but in practice, it doesn’t always do the job.
  • On phones, make sure to remove your SIM card.
  • If you’re having issues deleting data or generally feel unsure about the amount of data you actually deleted, then definitely seek out the help of a specialist. Reach out to your local Apple “genius” (lol)! This will obviously cost you extra, which might cause you to make a lesser profit from the sale of a device.

3. Sell for cash or trade for credit

Once the first two steps are done, you can now (attempt) to exchange your gadgets for money or store credit through the following ways:

  • eBayCraigslistAmazon: Hands-down this is probably the best way for you to net the best prices for your used gadgets; however, it’s also the most time-consuming and frustrating to deal with. You have to create listings and have to send multiple correspondence to potential buyers.
  • Nextworth: You can use this to sell eligible devices on their online database. Once you answer a short list of questions regarding the device, you will be presented with an offer. After you accept an offer, you can select to receive your payment by check, PayPal deposit, or in the form of a Target gift card.
  • Gazelle: Very similar to Nextworth. You provide an honest description and evaluation of your device(s), and then Gazelle presents you with an offer. In terms of payment, you can choose between an Amazon gift card, PayPal payment, or a check.
  • ReCellular/SecureTradeIn: Best if you’re trying to sell an older cell phone. You find the manufacturer and model of your device, describe the condition of the phone, and see how much ReCellular will pay for the device. The goal of ReCellular/SecureTradeIn: to buy back old phones in order to prevent them from ending up in landfills.
  • Apple Reuse and Recycling Program: Offers Apple Store credit for your old iPads, iPhones, iPods, and Macs.
  • Amazon Trade-In: Different from selling it on Amazon, you find the device you want to trade, describe its condition, and then Amazon gives you a value. Once you’ve shipped them the device, Amazon ensures the quality of the item you described and provides you with an Amazon gift card equal to, or sometimes greater than, the value it originally provided you.
  • Best Buy Trade-In: Similar to Amazon Trade-In, you receive the value it offers you in the form of a Best Buy gift card.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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