The used phone market is worth $7 billion globally, according to a 2015 Deloitte Report. This is a lot of cash by anyone’s account! In Australia, only 8% of used phones are sold on to a new owner, so what’s happening to the other 92%?

This Deloitte report states there are approximately 15 million smartphones in Australia, with an additional 5 million expected to be sold this year. According to Optus, the majority of Australians update their phone every 12-18 months as newer, flashier models with better features hit the market. Of these 20 million smartphones, the Deloitte survey estimates a whopping 48% will be saved, tucked away in a drawer and likely forgotten about.

 Of all the nations surveyed by Deloitte (Singapore, UK, Japan, Germany, Canada) citizens from Australia and Singapore were most likely to save their phones for a rainy day. These statistics are echoed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), who state we tend to hold on to old phones for up to 12 years!

Why don’t people sell their old phones?

According to the AMTA these are the main reasons people hang onto old handsets:

  • Wanting to keep it as a spare in case anything goes wrong with the newer model.
  • Security concerns regarding personal data being stored on the device, despite the fact that factory resets remove this personal information.
  • There is a sentimental attachment to the phone.
  • Belief the phone has a monetary value (although 35% of people believed their phone to be worth nothing, reporting an average value of $27).

Related: How much is your wardrobe worth?

Ready to let go of your old phone? Here are some options.

#1. Sell it

Get your phone ready for its new owner by following these simple steps:

  • Wipe the memory and restore factory settings. Lifehacker has a great guide on how you can do this safely and securely on both iOS and Android.
  • Remove your SIM card (or micro SIM), and your SD card (or micro SD), which can contain personal information. Don’t sell the SIM card, and consider whether or not the sale of your SD card will result in a much higher price point.
  • Collect all accompanying accessories – you’re much more likely to make a quick sale if interested parties don’t have to source another charger, battery etc.
  • Consider unlocking the phone, so others can use it with any provider. This may come at a small fee, so only consider this if you think it’ll increase the value of the handset significantly.

Get the screen fixed if it’s scratched, but again – consider if this cost exceeds what you’d get back in a sale.

#2. Recycle it

Recycling Near You say phones ending up in landfill are dangerous, as ‘heavy metals such as the cadmium in the batteries could leach into the environment’. If sustained over time, this would have a negative impact on our native flora and fauna. There’s plenty of ways you can avoid this though!

There are a number of charities and not for profits offering services that collect, refurbish and recycle mobile phones that are no longer in use. While reselling may make you back some cash, the benefits of recycling are plentiful too.

The AMTA run a not for profit program called, making it easy for Australians to turn in devices they no longer need. 9.95 million handsets and batteries have been recycled by MobileMuster in the last 15+ years, and the number continues to grow. With options including free recycling satchels at Australia Post and collection points across the country, it’s only going to get easier to find ways to appropriately recycle your electronic goods.

Got a drawer full of old phones? Make sure it’s all covered in your content insurance policy

#3. Find a cause and donate your handset

Coltan is a metallic ore which is typically mined and then used in creating technological components. Unfortunately, one of the places coltan is mined from is the jungles of Africa, which is a prime gorilla habitat.

But by donating your unwanted phones for recycling, the demand for coltan decreases, which helps protect these habitats. Zoos Victoria runs a program in partnership with the Gorilla Doctors known as ‘They’re calling on you’, which allows you to donate unwanted or unused mobile phones to help save gorillas in the wild. It does this by raising much needed funds for gorilla conservation and reducing the need for mined coltan.

So, there you have it; there are countless options available to you if you’ve got mobile phones laying around the house and aren’t using them. There are other uses we haven’t listed here (e.g. using it as an mp3 player, universal remote, a improvised hockey puck), but we feel that what’s been detailed above is of the most value to regular Aussies.


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