As technological change continues to accelerate, formerly cutting-edge technology quickly becomes quaint – or simply obsolete.
We’re already nostalgic about downloadable ringtones and flip phones.
The breakneck pace of digital evolution means today’s rectangular handsets will look archaic when foldable 5G phones arrive, with pre-production examples unveiled earlier this month.
Remember how cutting-edge BlackBerry and Nokia handsets seemed in the early part of this decade?
Millions of us have old smartphones cluttering up drawers and cupboards – some still in their original boxes, preserved in mint condition yet largely worthless.
If you’re one of these people, what can you do with an obsolete handset?
One thing you shouldn’t do…
Don’t be tempted to throw it in your household waste bin.
Electrical items aren’t intended for disposal in landfill, since they contain potentially hazardous components.
Up to 80 per cent of a typical handset will be recyclable, including semi-precious metals, plastics and specific components like circuit boards or microphones.
If throwing an old smartphone away is still your preferred course of action, local recycling centres (often euphemistically called civic amenity sites) contain electrical recycling banks.
However, you can do better than leaving an old handset in a recycling bin…
Give it to charity
This is surely the noblest use for an old smartphone – being donated to a good cause.
Recycle Rebuild is a dedicated electronics recycling centre, where old devices are used to maintain communications with on-site charity teams in deprived regions or disaster areas.
Many high street charities will accept old handsets, refurbishing and reselling them, or passing them over to phone recycling specialists.
High street retailers often accept donated devices. For instance, Carphone Warehouse gives £10 to charity for every unwanted phone it receives.
The handsets don’t even need to be in working order – though if they are, charging cables are useful given the variety of proprietary connections we’ve seen over the last 25 years…
Donate it to a good home
This is a slightly more direct take on the previous suggestion.
There are plenty of websites where you can exchange or give away old belongings to people in your local area.
Platforms like Freecycle and Freegle connect people looking to donate and receive goods.
Museums and collectors will occasionally be searching for specific models, while props companies often snap up older phones for use in period plays/films/TV programmes.
You won’t make a fortune from selling an old smartphone, but it might generate some useful pocket money as Christmas approaches.
Mazuma Mobile now refuses to buy old iPhone 4 models, but it’ll still pay £15 for a 16GB iPhone 5 in working condition.
Other retailers have their own lists of accepted and refused devices, with some newer handsets attracting surprisingly high valuations.
Look for price comparison sites, to see which firm will pay the most for your old tech.
Or you could take a more direct approach, and place an advert on a platform like Gumtree or eBay.
Trade it in
Finally, if you’re buying a new handset and taking out a SIM-only contract, the company you’re buying from might be willing to accept an old device in part exchange.
Policies will vary from one retailer to the next, and some PX deals are time-limited, so be prepared to shop around.
As with every other suggestion in this article, always erase any personally identifiable information from the device (and remove any SIM/microSD cards) before handing it over.