Recycle, Upcycle, Donate or Sell Your Old Phone?

Jacques du Rand 2021-09-10

I was clearing out cupboards the other day and found no less than 3 old mobile phones. Okay, one I use as a second login to a mobile game I play (read addicted to), so that one doesn't count. If you're like me and have a couple of phones sitting in the back of a closet, here's what to do with it.

Make Cash, Do Good, or Give it a Job?

Put Cash In Your Pocket

The first question that inevitably comes to mind is "Is it worth anything?"

Well of course it totally depends why it's sitting in that cupboard, and how old it is. Is it there from an old upgrade, or did you smash the screen and render it useless? The latter probably won't get you any cash worth mentioning. Age matters as it is losing value with each passing month, so the best time to dig out those old phones, make sure you delete all data (factory reset), and get it on the market, is now.

You have a couple of options to take if you choose to make some money:

  • List it on any of the classifieds (Facebook Marketplace; Gumtree) or auction sites (Ebay) online, or
  • Sell it to Cash Converters or similar

The easiest way to see what you can get for the phone is to use those same online sites mentioned above and search for similar devices. That will give you an idea of what others are selling theirs for.

I searched for the values for the two phones I have: an old iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S.

  • iPhone 4S averaged around R800 on classified sites
  • iPhone 5S averaged around R1,300 on classified sites

The above prices are what others are listing their devices for, so the final price might be lower. But even a couple of hundred bucks for something that is just gathering dust in the back of a cupboard sounds pretty good to me!

Do Some Good and Donate Your Phone

Does the thought of going through the hassle of trying to sell your device make you feel queasy? Well then, do a good deed and consider donating your phone.

I have over the years donated many a phone to either a grandparent or housekeeper. If neither of these options are viable, or if you just have too many devices, there are many other organisations that will very gratefully take them off your hands.

We do advise not to donate broken phones. Those best belong to a recycling organisation or a broken-tech depot.

Charity organisations may either distribute the phones for use, or sell them for the cash to use within the organisation.

Donate your old phones to these charities:

Recycling organisations for broken phones:

Give Your Phone A New Job

There are many uses for old phones, but this is usually reserved for the tech nerds amongst us.

These are some of the uses for old phones that are outside of their usual role:

  • In-car GPS - Instead of using your daily device, an option would be to use your old device as a semi-permanent GPS in your car for Waze or Google Maps navigation.
  • Computer webcam - If your laptop webcam is starting to act-up or is a bit ‘iffy', you can use the camera of your old phone as a replacement. This works best using an Android phone and a Windows PC apparently. It luckily does not involve actually taking the computer apart, but using the phone as a camera standing behind your computer screen on a tripod and connecting through a companion app such as DroidCam or Epoccam for iPhones.
  • Security camera or baby monitor - Upgrade your phone to a security device by downloading a free software called Alfred. Alfred is free to use and download. It's packed with ads but these can be removed if you upgrade to either Alfred Premium or Plus. Plus is a one-off purchase that removes ads. Premium uses a subscription model that unlocks advanced features like motion detection and cloud storage of recorded clips. If you already use a camera system such as Nest, for example, keep in mind you can make your old phone a dedicated viewer for these apps, too.

Either way you choose to put your old phone tech to use, it is probably better than having it sit in the back of a cupboard.

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