Even Apple is aware of the need for cheaper phones. The iPhone SE it debuted earlier this year gets you the same hardware as last year’s iPhone 11 for just $400. Whether you’re in the market for an SE or dreaming of the new iPhone 12 line, don’t just toss your aging phone in a drawer when you upgrade. Sell your iPhone! That old hunk of glass is more valuable than you might think.
There are quite a few services that will give you cash or store credit for a used iPhone. We’ve compared some popular services for trading in an old device. Most of these services accept Samsung and Google devices too, and all of them take iPhones.
Updated October 2020: We’ve tweaked phones and pricing.
Tips to Get a High Resale Price
Comparing prices on all these services highlights to maximize the resale value of your phone. First and foremost, take care of your phone. Buy a good case (check out our guide on picking a good phone case) and consider a screen protector (AmFilm protectors work well). They’ll keep your device looking new, which is the best way to ensure you get the most money possible when you sell.
Always buy an unlocked phone. That will maximize your resale value. Unlocked phones work on any wireless network that they have the antenna to support. There’s no reason to chain yourself to one carrier. Generally, unless a carrier tells you a phone is unlocked, it probably isn’t, especially if you buy it on a payment plan.
The last thing to do before you run off to cash in your old phone is to back up all your data using iCloud. Be sure to check the option to backup your Messages so iCloud will store your text messages, which sometimes include photos and videos you haven’t saved to your Camera Roll. Remember to unpair your Apple Watch if you have one, and wipe your phone’s data as well.
1. Best for Pristine iPhones
An eBay clone of sorts, Swappa seeks to eliminate some of the problems associated with eBay: high seller fees, poor seller-buyer communication tools, and too many poor-quality devices. You won’t be able to sell your iPhone here unless it’s in good shape, fully functional, and undamaged.
So long as your phone meets Swappa’s listing criteria and you’re willing to put in a little effort, this is where you’ll get the most money for your old device. As you would on eBay, you’ll need to put together a listing with photos. Be sure to take the case off your phone, and be honest about the condition. Remember to factor in shipping when setting your sale price.
Currently, a 64-gigabyte iPhone XS sells for around $450. An iPhone 11 is somewhere between $550 and $675, depending on the storage capacity and condition.
2. Best for Reliable Cash
Gazelle is the old hand in the world of used phones. The company has been buying phones since 2006, and it has the (simplest) process.
You fill out an online form and answer some questions about your device—whether it works, which carrier it’s tied to, and if there’s any cosmetic damage. You’ll then get an offer based on the answers you give. If you accept the offer, Gazelle will send a box complete with shipping label, and you’ll ship the phone in for inspection. Once the company has looked over your device and verified it’s in the condition you said it was, you’ll be paid—usually in about seven to 10 days. Payment can be in the form of a check, PayPal, or Amazon gift card.
A factory-unlocked, 64-gigabyte iPhone XS in good condition will get you a little more than $200. A 128-GB unlocked iPhone 11 will net you about $300. Gazelle sometimes runs promotional offers around new device launches, so keep an eye out to snag the best deal.
3. Best for a Broken iPhone
If your iPhone is damaged or the battery no longer holds a charge, uSell will still buy it. Of the send-it-in-style services, uSell offers the most for damaged devices. We were offered $80 for an iPhone XS that doesn’t even power on. A factory-unlocked, 256-GB iPhone 11 that’s been damaged can get you $105, which is better than nothing.
4. Easiest Way to Sell
Apple’s Trade-In program doesn’t always offer the best prices, but if you’re buying a new iPhone, Apple will quickly apply your credit to the new device. Apple pays top dollar only for absolutely pristine phones.
At the time of writing, an iPhone XS in good condition will get you $270, while an iPhone 11 can go for up to $350. The other option is to trade in for a discount on a new phone. If you have a pristine iPhone 11, you can trade it in to get a 128-gigabyte iPhone 12 for $529 ($350 off) or an iPhone 12 Pro at $649 ($450 off).
We don’t recommend it, but if you’re the sort of person who must upgrade to a new iPhone every year, you might save some money using Apple’s iPhone upgrade program. Like a lease, you perpetually pay for your phone every month but get a new one after 12 months, which makes it cheaper than buying a new unlocked phone every year.
A Few More Options
Best Buy: Best Buy offers trade-ins online or in participating stores. It won’t take damaged devices, and you won’t get cash, just store credit. But if you need something from Best Buy anyway, it’s a relatively no-hassle option, especially if you go the in-store route.
Carrier Trade-Ins: Your service provider probably has a buy-back program of some sort, especially if you’re upgrading to a new iPhone. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will buy back your device, though generally for far less than the other options in this list.
eBay: There’s always eBay. While personal experience has soured me on eBay lately—the number of buyer scams seems to far outweigh the number of legitimate buyers—it is still one of the most popular places to sell things online. The site even has a special form for selling your iPhone.
Amazon and Others: There are other device-centric swapping sites, like NextWorth and GadgetGone. Walmart and Amazon also have device trade-in programs, but none of them offered as good a deal as the options above.
Decluttr: Decluttr is a solid way to get fast cash for your phone. It never paid as much as others, but it was simple and fast. Unfortunately, the WIRED Gear Team has had some bad experiences with the service, so we hesitate to recommend it. Still, bad experiences can happen with any of these companies. If you aren’t happy with the offers you’re getting from these other services, Decluttr might be worth a try.
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