iphones stacked

I have a ritual I go through every time I purchase a new iPhone, which lately has been once per year. I hunt down my original box and accessories, and prepare my old handset to be sold on eBay as soon as my new one arrives. And I thought this was a common practice.

But according to the “Mobile Mountain Study” conducted by research group OnePoll, for resale site SellCell, almost half of the consumers who buy a new smartphone are holding on to their older device instead of opting to recycle or sell it in the used handset market…

These unused phones, SellCell says, are worth almost $47 billion, and it estimates that older iPhone models account for approximately $13.4 billion of that total. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular traded-in cellphones in the US, sorted by brand, model and resale value:


And MarketWatch has more stats from the survey (via MacRumors):

“Of those who haven’t sold or traded in their old phones, 20% say they gave them away to a family member, friend or partner, 12% say they gave them to a charity, and 9% say they threw them in the trash, the survey found. Women are more likely to give their old phones to a family member or friend (22.5%) than men (18%). Security is less of a concern: Only 18% had concerns about personal data on their old phones versus 23% a year ago. So why are Americans hoarding old phones? Some 17% of smartphone owners say they were “too lazy” to get rid of them. However, nearly 40% of smartphone owners also say they hang on to old models so that they have a spare, while 36% say they “don’t know what else to do with them.”

Reselling handsets has become a particularly lucrative business in recent years, as more people move to smartphones and companies look for ways to drive down prices of phones in emerging markets. Apple is even getting in on the action with its Reuse and Recycling program.

So the question is: do you keep or sell your old iPhones?

  • David J Delgado

    Am I the only one surprised to see the S4 and 5s making the top 10?

  • Jared Steffen

    I like to keep mine for other uses

  • Merman123

    I usually hand down the phone to my parents. It’s like they get free upgrades , lol.

    • Damian W

      lol i usually do it too but with computer hardware. My mother has a better PC than average person because I just give her everything I don’t use anymore.

  • Sam Khan

    I use my 4S as an iPod and 5 for everthing else.

  • Damian W

    I usually keep mine because it is in such a bad shape that it just not worth the hustle anymore. But I don’t buy phones every year, more like every 3 years.

  • Windy Joseph

    I have an iPad 3rd gen. iPod 4th gen. iPhone 5, and iPhone 5s I’m a now using, I still have the original box that they came in with.
    I feel like they’re part of me, like a container of emotions. Emotions of first opening the box and using my device. I don’t know that’s just me.

    • SimonReidy

      I’m the same with some of my Apple products. Like my first iPhone for instance, which is too slow to be good for anyone and too important to part with. However for my other items like my iPad2 and iPhone4 – I’ve just kept them in the family – that way others can get use out of them, but they are never too far from me 🙂

  • Andy

    The trade-in value listed is so low, they’re definitely worth more than that. I recently sold an iPhone 4s 32GB for €320.

  • mwpitt52

    The new blog format is now so bloated with Ads that makes it impossible to read . Thumbs down.

  • Jonathan

    I have an old iPod Touch 4. I use it for pretty much the “other” things, and as an Airplay speaker for speakers in our living room. Works nice! I use Airfloat for that.

  • Jay

    Jeez, I can’t even afford a smartphone and people are just throwing their old ones in a drawer somewhere and forgetting about them.

  • Burge

    iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, Someone is slacking in that picture thay don’t have the iphone 5..

    I sell mine and it gets top whack because I don’t use the headphones, charging cable or plug. And it’s all boxed up. The phone is mint because it lives in a case.. You just have to advertise it right and people will pay what you ask

  • zabrawn

    I got a 5s, my 4S is being used as a media center remote, iPod and a spare phone. More useful than selling it for cheap.