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Phones become outdated at lightening speed these days. Before you can say “4G,” your new phone is already old news. As people upgrade their phones more frequently, there are many older models sitting in drawers and boxes all over the world. Commercials on television tell you about all of the money you can get for your ancient technology, but what should you really do with your old phone?
If you have a current smartphone you want to get rid of, you may be able to get money for it. If your unwanted phone is a couple of years old, you’re out of luck. A Google search will find a variety of sites that want to buy your not-so-old phones, or you can resort to websites you’ve seen advertised on television. Gazelle is a popular one, offering to buy a few brands of phones from certain carriers. Many of these sites are only looking for specific models, and often won’t take anything but those models. If your phone has been sitting in a drawer for over a year, odds are that you will get nothing but an offer to recycle it with no compensation.
Cell manufacturer Samsung is offering to buy your old phone if you buy one of their new models, even if your old handset is not a Samsung. They will offer you up to $300 for your old phone; you can find out how much your phone is worth to them by getting a quote on Samsung’s Facebook page. Once you get a quote, you must buy a Samsung phone and mail your old handset to Samsung with the receipt from your new device. When they receive the handset, they will send you a check.
If you are already planning on buying a Samsung device, it might be worth checking out. They don’t pay top dollar for every phone, though: Gizmodo reports that a fully-functional Motorola Droid is worth $0 according to Samsung, so shop around to find out if you’re getting the best price for your phone before you send it to Samsung.
If you plan to sell your phone, it is important to wipe your information so that the new buyer won’t be able to steal your identity and confidential information. Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert, conducted an experiment by buying 30 used devices, including phones, laptops, iPods, desktops, netbooks, and notebooks online. He tried to find the past users’ information…and succeeded. The former users of about half of the devices thought that they had wiped the hard drive, yet Siciliano was still able to find “people’s entire digital lives.” Presumably, many computer-savvy individuals could do the same.
Not only did he find family photos, but there were court documents, Social Security numbers, and lots of pornography. He found that BlackBerries were the best at scrubbing information, followed by Apple devices. The worst for hanging on to your info even after factory resets were gadgets that ran Google Android. Computers running Microsoft XP were also hard to wipe. After reviewing his findings, Siciliano says that he would never sell his old devices. In fact, when he is done with an electronic device, he would prefer to drill a hole through it, crush it in a vise, or submerge it in salt water for a year to make sure that no one can steal his information.
If you are thinking of swapping out your old phone, you need to weigh the benefits and the risks. Will you earn a lot of money for your handset? How much personal information do you have on it? Is your phone in demand or will it just be recycled? Will it wipe clean or leave residue from your digital life? Siciliano would never sell his devices, but if you didn’t store much on it, if you have a BlackBerry or Apple device, and you will earn a decent check from a respectable buyer, maybe selling is worth your while. However, if you have been downloading court documents and store passwords, Social Security numbers, and birthdates on your phone, you should probably either hang on to it or destroy it, no matter how much you could make.