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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Looking to knock a few bucks off the price tag on that new smartphone? Sell your old one



My iPhone 4S is the only smartphone I've ever owned, so I've never really thought much about what I'd do with it when it's time to upgrade. I have to admit, thought, that the idea of selling it or trading it in is getting more and more attractive.

MacUser published a great guide today to getting the most money for your old smartphone. You've got more options today than just listing it yourself on Craiglist or eBay — buyback services like Gazelle or Glyde might make you feel a little more comfortable than just hoping you really did wipe all your personal data off that piece of tech before turning it over to some guy you don't know at the Starbucks on the corner. And companies you might already have a relationship with, like Amazon, Apple and Best Buy are getting into the act, too.

Many of the guidelines for getting the most from your trade-in are about what you'd expect from trading in a car. The more wear and tear your phone shows, the less you'll get. Does your phone have water-damage indicators? Your trade-in value could slip some if they're pink or red. Some services will buy your phone even if it's visibly cracked or won't power on; others won't. Some offer gift cards or store credit; others offer cash. Glyde isn't so much a company that wants to buy your phone as it is a marketplace that lists your phone for sale. You can set your own price, though lower prices will sell faster — and Glyde takes its cut from what's passed along to you.

If you want to get top dollar for your phone, you might be best off selling it yourself directly to a buyer and keeping the entire price — but that comes with its own set of hassles and dangers. MacUser offers this good list of tips for avoiding postsale hassles:

  • Don't accept personal checks: A less-than-honest buyer could easily write a bad check, leaving you in the lurch should it bounce. Instead, either use a service like PayPal or request a cashier’s check or money order. This way, you can guarantee that you’ll get paid.
  • Don’t make your buyer wait: Ship your phone as soon as you can after you receive payment, and provide your buyer with a tracking number if possible so that they can get a better idea of when to expect it.
  • Be honest: Disclose any damage to the phone, and mention if anything is missing. Being up-front now will prevent hassles later.
  • Take lots of good photos: You’ll want to provide plenty of photos that show the condition of the phone. Make sure you have good lighting, and try to take the photos on a clean, uncluttered desktop.

It should be added that you'll want to wipe your personal data from your phone before turning it over to anyone. As TechHive pointed out a couple years back, you can't count on the company that buys your phone to do it for you — and just removing the SIM card doesn't do the trick, either. Every phone has its own process for restoring it to a fresh-from-the-factory state, so research the instructions for yours and follow them carefully.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 3:19pm]


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