There’s no doubt that the most important piece of technology of this day and age is our cell phones, with an estimated 96 percent of Americans owning one.
Whether it’s a smartphone or basic brick phone used just for calls, most of us have owned and thrown away plenty of these devices in our time, without getting any kind of payment for them.
How much is my broken phone worth, you might ask?
Depending on its condition, quality, and manufacturer, broken phones can still reap some form of payment from as little as $5 or hundreds.
Companies purchase old phones to repair them or strip them for parts, and others recycle them and dispose of them safely for you, so before you go throwing it out consider one of these options instead.
A broken phone isn’t much use to you, and most people aren’t interested in buying a second-hand cell that no longer works unless they know how to fix it themselves.
However, some companies will pay cash for them, so you may as well do your part for the environment and your pocket by finding out how and where you can sell yours.
Why Do Companies Want Your Broken Phone?
You’ve probably never considered selling an old, broken phone before because you assumed nobody would want it, but there are plenty of companies out there that do.
These buyback companies will not only take the phone of your hands but they’ll pay you for it, and depending on its parts and condition, you could make at least $100 for it.
There are two main reasons why a company would want your broken phone, and why they’re happy to pay for it.
First, they might have the equipment and knowledge to repair it and then sell it on as a refurbished device, making themselves more money.
Otherwise, they can strip the phone of its valuable parts and materials that can then be reused to make other things.
What’s in My Cell Phone?
To understand why an old phone might still be valuable, all we have to do is look at their makeup. Phones are surprisingly full of precious metals and other expensive materials which is why you’re able to make money off them even if they don’t work.
A typical iPhone has around 25g of aluminum and 15g of copper, as well as precious metals like 0.34g of silver and 0.034g of gold.
Although it sounds minute, consider stripping this from hundreds or thousands of phones a day, and you can see why this is a lucrative business for some.
Other rare earth elements are also found in phones including lanthanum, yttrium, and gadolinium. While the average person might not know anything about them, they’re actually difficult to mine and sell, thus in great demand.
Add to that the other parts like batteries and glass, and you’ll find that even a broken phone that can’t make calls is still worth a bit to those who know what they’re doing.
How and Where to List Your Phone
If you want to get rid of your phone, there are a few major companies that offer this service in the US.
The best approach is to receive a quote for your phone from a number of them to see who can offer you the highest price, and you can easily find the top buyback companies with a quick search online.
When you sell your phone, there are a few categories it can come under depending on its condition, and this will also determine how much you’re paid for.
They will need to assess the physical damage as well as any errors or functionality problems, so your phone might be labeled “good”, “faulty”, or another classification.
Unless instructed to, there’s no need to fix any of the broken parts of the phone before you sell it off, including a cracked screen.
These buyback companies have large scale repair capabilities and will be able to fix any issues cheaper and easier than you would, so they’re happy to purchase it as is and do this work for themselves.
What Kind of Broken Phones Can I Sell?
Companies that purchased broken phones are pretty flexible in the type of devices they accept, and payment will range depending on what model you have and its condition.
A broken phone refers to any phone that doesn’t work to its full capacity, which could include physical damage or a technical issue.
The more damaged a phone is, the less likely it is you’ll be offered full payment or will even have the phone accepted.
A very damaged phone might not be eligible for refurbishing or the valuable parts might not be removed as easily, in which case it might not be purchased. In most cases, though, these types of issues will still be accepted:
- Smashed or cracked screen
- Touch screen or buttons no longer functioning
- Faulty LCD display
- Issues with battery charging
- Camera not working
- Damaged by water or heat
There are some cases where your phone won’t be eligible for buyback, and these phones are either too damaged or have some other serious issue.
If yours falls under any of these categories then it’ll likely be turned away, and your best option would be to have it professionally recycled:
- Water or liquid inside the phone
- Dismantled or broken in half
- Fake device
- Memory card or SIM card slot glued shut
- Barred by a network
- Reported stolen
How to Know When You Need a New Phone
Everyone’s interpretation of whether their phone is broken is a different thing. Some people will gladly walk around with a broken screen and buttons that don’t work while others will want to get rid of theirs at the first sight of a scratch on the glass.
As long as it still makes calls and sends messages, most of us are happy to continue using it, especially if money is tight.
Provided your phone isn’t blacklisted by any of the above requirements, it’s entirely up to you what you do with it.
If it’s still in relatively good working order you might make more money by selling it to someone else, but for damaged phones, you’ll be able to make money from a buyback company.
Recycling Your Old Phone
One movement that’s gaining traction, especially as we focus more on doing our part for the environment, is recycling your old phone.
When you throw a phone out into the trash, most parts are unable to break down and end up being landfill for hundreds or thousands of years. If you don’t want to make money from yours and would rather recycle, some companies do this as well.
Phone recycling companies dismantle your old phone and the parts that can’t be recovered and reused in new products will be recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.
They use special recycling plants to ensure that all of the plastic, glass, and other precious metals are dealt with the right way and this is far more thorough than attempting to recycle it on your own.
For a phone that’s broken but not ready to be thrown away, you might consider gifting it to someone else as a way to reuse it before you consider recycling.
Repairs for smartphones are quite cheap these days and if you can save someone money from buying a new one as well as reusing your old phone, you’re doing a great thing to help the environment and a friend.
Cell phones are one of the most common accessories used today, with almost everyone having at least one in their possession.
If you’ve got some old phones laying around or want to know what to do with your damaged one, we’ve got answers to frequently asked questions about the whole process.
How Do I Wipe My Phone?
Before you sell your phone to someone or a buyback service, you should perform a factory reset on the device.
This will wipe the entire contents from the phone including your contacts, messages, and photos so that whatever is done with it after you sell it, there will be no remaining trace of your data.
Where Can I Buy a Broken Phone?
If you want to purchase a broken phone to use for parts or fix it yourself, there are plenty of places to do so. eBay, Amazon, and local sellers like those listed on Facebook Marketplace are a good place to start, with phones in all kinds of conditions.
However, when purchasing from a private seller, you need to be sure the goods aren’t stolen or faultier than they claim.