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Old Cell Phones: What Can You Do With Them? Are They Worth Money?

From Symbian, to Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS devices, I have owned over 200 mobile phones and smartphones since 2001. I have experienced old cell phones in their full glory, and tend to have a few in a drawer somewhere.

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Some of my old cell phones that I still have include Nokia 6760 Slide (running Symbian OS), Palm Pre (running PalmOS), BlackBerry Passport (running BlackBerry 10 OS), Lumia 950 (running Windows 10 Mobile), and BQ Aquaris Ubuntu Edition (running Ubuntu Mobile). There are a few others hidden here and there. Where are the rest? As a rule, I sell off most of my old cell phones. Otherwise, they become a pile of junk. I know that some of my fellow gadget connoisseurs will disagree with my use of the word “junk”, and that is fine.

Some old cell phones
Some of my old cell phones – [L-R] Palm Pre, Nokia 6760 Slide, BlackBerry Passport

What Can You Do With Your Old Cell Phones?

Besides selling them off (and assuming you want to get rid of them), what else can you do with your old cell phones? Here are a few things you can do (some of which I do too, occasionally).

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  1. Recycle Your Old Cell Phones: If you live in a country where recycling facilities are available, it is a great idea to send your old gadgets in to be recycled. Help keep the world green.
  2. Swap Your Old Cell Phones. If it isn’t so old that it is of no more financial value, you can swap your old smartphone for a newer model from your carrier or favourite phone brand. A few top brands will take a competitor’s model off you for one of theirs. Samsung does this; Apple, too.
  3. Donate Your Old Cell Phones To A Museum Or Educational Institution. There are always institutions or individuals that are looking for old cell phones, for the purpose of preservation of history or information. Museums and educational institutions are two that come to mind.
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How do I clear my phone before selling it, or giving it out?

You should always clear or factory reset your old phone before sending it away. The idea is to wipe out all your data off it. Whatever the brand or model you are using, the factory reset menu is always found in the Settings of the phone. Now, here is the trick: after a factory reset, use the phone again for a few minutes. Take as few pictures, then reset it again. Did you get that? Reset it twice. Why? I will explain.

When you factory reset a computing device of any kind, it may look like all the files and data have been wiped out completely, but those files can be retrieved or restored by someone who has the right tools required. Most times, the tools can retrieve just the last set of info that was wiped. Doing a factory reset twice (with some usage in between) leaves your old cell phone with residues of the last usage. If anyone tries to restore the wiped data, they get only the last few random photos you took after the first reset.

I must add here that I do not know if this is any guarantee, as new technologies and tools show up every other day. It might be possible to retrieve your old data from your old cell phone even if you follow the above tip. I am happy to hear from someone with more insight into this.

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more old cell phones from mister mobility
More old cell phones from my archives

Are Old Cell Phones Worth Money?

Usually, old smartphones and gadgets are not worth much in terms of money. From time to time, I hunt for a vintage phone that I used to own, or never owned, and find it for peanuts on eBay, AliExpress, or some other e-commerce website. They are not worth much because many of them are practically useless today. Our nano-SIM cards do not fit in, so you cannot make calls or manage text messages. Their old pin chargers are hard to find. Most of the really older phones do not have Wi-Fi, and so cannot be connected to the Internet. This means there is no Web browsing, instant messaging, social media, and the like, available on them. Practically useless.

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If you choose to sell off your really old cell phones, you are not going to get much for them. The best time to sell a smartphone is within a year of its release (that is when I sell mine and get a replacement). It helps, too, if you have kept it in sterling shape. You can expect to get between 50% and 80% of the price, depending on how old it is and what condition it is in. If it is years old and obsolete, the price can drop to as low as 10% to 20% of the original selling price when it was first released.

I Want Your Old Cell Phones

That said, if you have a really old cell phone that you’d like to dispose of, feel free to buzz me up. I will gladly take it off you. I am building a mobile phone museum of some sort, which is why I go hunting for old models every now and then. I plan to be able to show future generations a little bit of mobile phone history.

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