What To Do With Your Old iPhone

What to Do with Your Old iPhone

CC0 Image by hurk / Pixabay

September 2014 saw the launch of the iPhone 6. As perhaps customary with Apple products, this new release had been an anticipated one with many consumers waiting to get hold of one of these phones (and even though the iPhone 6 was just launched, buzz is already starting about the next generation of iPhones). 

As is also customary, the latest version of the iPhone was reported to be jam-packed with a lot of cool stuff. Consumers stood on lines, some even hiring other people to wait their turn for them as they tried to get their hands on one of these babies at Apple stores on the day of release. 

Now that the new iPhone is delivered and available, many people are faced with the decision of what to do with their older model of the popular phone. With over 10 million iPhone 6 devices sold on the first three days of sales, there are a lot of potential discards.

What to do with your old iPhone? Consumers who are trading up for the next generation can do several things, here are some of the most probable fates for old iPhones:

Sell the Phones as Used

There is still a market for the older iPhones. eBay and Craigslist are probably two of the first places consumers turn to online in order to sell their old phones, but there are tons of other selling options. Be careful though to wipe your phone clean, you don’t want to become a victim of identity theft.

Give to a Family or Friend

Chances are many people plan to give their old phones to family and friends. Parents may pass them to their kids as anything about an iPhone 4 will still be compatible with current iOS software. Anyone who has a generic cellphone, who can’t afford to get newer models of smartphones, without the bells and whistles offered by Apple would probably delighted to get a free iPhone that still works perfectly fine.

Trade for Money or Gift Cards

Many companies that specialize in selling old phones relish when an upgrade occurs because they buy old phones and give people cash for them.  Many people sell their old iPhones to help pay for the new ones. If you do a search online, a number of good (and well-recommended) options show up. Since I have not personally sold a used phone, I don’t want to recommend a specific company.

Alternatively, you can return the phone to Apple and get a gift card (check to be sure your old smartphone qualifies for recycling under company policy). Wireless carriers also often will offer some cash, so check with your provider.   

Before turning to a third party seller, be sure and check out the validity. It is a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau as there have been some complaints with at least one company.

Continue to Use the Older iPhone

After the iPhone 6 release, Forbes published an article that had some interesting ideas. Did you know old iPhones can be used as a security device? Or use it to create a high-tech alarm clock? Additionally, it can be used as a camera. There are probably tons of different uses you can find to not let an older iPhone go to waste.

Toss ‘Em in a Drawer

This last one is kind of a waste, but the reality is many people probably don’t want to be bothered or are afraid to sell their old iPhone. In that case the phone gets a proper burial, straight to the junk drawer or tossed in the bottom of a closet. However, sometimes it is worth saving an old phone in case a problem emerges with a newer one to temporarily use until the issue is resolved. Older phones are also a good alternative if a phone no longer under warranty stops working and you need a phone fast. It also can be given to a trusted family member or friend in the event their phone goes kaput. 

Recycle It

Another potential option is to recycle it. Most resellers will take old phones and chargers.

“The benefits of donating old phones are threefold,” notes CNET. “It clears old gadgets out of your home, it could improve someone else’s life, and you won’t be directly responsible for throwing toxic chemicals into the dump.”

Environmentally friendly is a good avenue to take in the event your old phone is really too old to do anything with.

Be Sure to Protect Yourself

Whatever your choice, proper disposal of data is critical in any technology gadget. The iPhone is no exception. Any consumer who decides to sell or give their phones away (iPhone or any other type of phone) should be aware there is a risk of identity theft if proper precautions aren’t taken to remove sensitive information. In 2013, there were 3.1 million smartphone thefts, with personal information potentially accessed. Don’t become of one these statistics by virtually giving your private data away.

Deleting entries and stored information is not enough. Proper disposal of data is critical in any technology gadget and the iPhone is no exception. Consumer Reports indicates the most convenient way to securely erase a smartphone, or other mobile device, is to encrypt the device then perform a factory reset. Another option is to use reputable software to wipe a gadget clean before discarding or selling (some antivirus makers offer this option). If you really are uncomfortable doing it yourself, you can always turn to a trusted professional to clean out the gadget for you.

Whatever the method, people should be sure to wipe the iPhone (or other phone) clean before getting rid of it. The cost of identity theft and/or other types of cybercrime is steep and you don’t want to make yourself a potential victim.

For those who thought getting an iPhone was the challenge, may find getting rid of an old iPhone to be equally as challenging. However, there are some good options available.


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  1. Onionman

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