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Tips for selling a second-hand smartphone

The drop in value experienced by smartphones can be quite shocking, especially if you’re hoping to sell a relatively new device.

The annual musicMagpie Phone Deprecation Report makes depressing reading for early adopters, and anyone who feels compelled to own the latest model.

A one-month old Huawei Mate 30 Pro would be expected to fetch less than 40 per cent of its RRP. After six months, it would be worth just 14 per cent of what you paid for it.

Other smartphones also lose half their value within the first month of ownership, though the likes of Google’s Pixel 3XL then see their rate of depreciation level off.

The exception is Apple, whose inherent desirability sees some handsets shed a third of their value overnight but then retain half their original worth for 15 months.

Whichever handset you purchase, selling a phone within a year won’t be cost-effective.

However, it’ll need to be replaced eventually – due to faults and declining battery performance, the absence of the latest features and operating system, or simply a desire for change.

When that day comes, these tips for selling a second-hand smartphone ought to ensure you receive a fair offer – and one which isn’t subsequently reduced or withdrawn…

Maximising value while selling a second-hand smartphone

  • Sell before the next model comes out. Smartphones drop in value when newer models launch, especially if they’ll cease to be the latest-generation model at that point.
  • Check multiple buyers. Before selling to a high street store or online trader, get at least three quotes. Price aggregators like SellCompare represent a useful shortcut.
  • Consider a private sale. The risks are higher when using eBay or a community website, but you could get more money, especially if you include model-specific accessories.
  • Accept cash alternatives. You may get better value by exchanging a phone for vouchers or using it as a trade-in on a new device, rather than demanding a cheque in the post.
  • Describe the device’s condition honestly. Many smartphones are sold through online agents, who won’t hesitate to withdraw an offer if the condition is worse than described.
  • Clean it thoroughly. Anything that makes the reseller’s life easier will be welcomed. Remove screen protectors, buff out surface scrapes and give the handset a good clean.
  • Unlock the device. Freeing it from a specific mobile operator could boost its resale price, though unlocking requires a degree of technical acumen.
  • Dig out the original packaging. This impresses private buyers and makes a reseller’s life easier, while it also makes posting the handset easier and more secure.
  • Perform a full factory reset. This stops your personal data being compromised. Factory resets should only be performed once all your data and files have been removed.
  • Consider donating it. Charities will often accept second-hand smartphones to resell or donate to hard-up families, though some have suspended their work due to Covid-19.
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