Consumers hoarded $47 billion in old smartphones last year

By on February 13, 2014, 6:00 PM
smartphone, cell phones, hoarding, old cell phones

Unless you take part in one of the major wireless carriers’ early upgrade programs, you’ve no doubt faced the question of what to do with your old mobile phone after upgrading to a shiny new handset. Curious to see exactly what happens to these old phones, research group OnePoll recently conducted a study for resale site SellCell and the results might surprise you.

Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed said they keep their old phones. Of those that aren’t hoarding their handsets, 20 percent said they gave them away to a friend or family member while 12 percent donated their used cell to charity. Nine percent apparently didn’t see any value in a used phone and simply tossed them in the trash.

The study found that those who hang on to their old phones do so for a number of different reasons. 40 percent said they keep their used device around as a backup, 36 percent claim they don’t know what else to do with them while 17 percent admitted they were too lazy to get rid of them.

The collective trade-in value of these old handsets is estimated to be around $47 billion based on the number of smartphone owners in the country. That’s a lot of money just sitting around in drawers and is up from $35 billion a year ago. Broken down further, that’s roughly $13.4 billion in old iPhones even after you consider that six of the top 10 most popular traded-in cell phones are iPhones.

That said, what do you do with your old handset after an upgrade?

User Comments: 10

Got something to say? Post a comment
bexwhitt said:

If you can't find a picture of a pile of old smartphone don't waste a photo fee

johnehoffman said:

My old handset is just lying around, but that's because it is a 7 year old flip phone with almost no value.

There is no way of knowing for sure, but I'd guess that the average value of phones NOT traded in or resold is somewhat less than the average value of those that are traded in or resold. That's because the more your old phone is worth, the greater incentive to do something to get the value out of it.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I think almost every phone I've stopped using has been activated and used again when the new phone broke for some reason or another. By the time they're really not needed anymore they're not worth anything.

p51d007 said:

When I get a new one, I keep the old one as a back up. When that new one gets replaced, it becomes the backup, and the backup is donated to the VA. I haven't had the need for a new one in a while. Got off the contract merry-go-round over 2 years ago, bought a G Note1 (international), straight talk, and it's still zipping right along.

JC713 JC713 said:

Wow, $47 billion, that is crazy!

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I'm one of those hoarders. I have at least 8 cell phones lying around in my drawers at home. I still have my very first cell, a Motorola 7200 Star TAC from '95

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

Even my BB Curve 9300 is there, just wow. O.O

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Perhaps, but every phone I've replace I've done so for a reason, either it doesn't vibrate anymore, battery doesn't hold a charge, the charging port has failed entirely, broken screen, non functional keypad. All my old phones are essentially valueless because of this, and my very first phone is in thousands of pieces due to impacting a cement wall after being fired out of my air cannon.

Guest said:

As with another reader here - I keep my second-newest phone as my backup in case I hose the newest one rooting or installing custom ROMs. As each new phone is purchased the old backup goes to a family member. Right now my Galaxy Nexus is my GS4 backup. This works well since they can share a SIM card without the need for an adapter. As for the trade in programs out there ... virtually all of them earn the Single-digit-salute for ridiculously low trade-ins.

Emexrulsier said:

I have about 4 phones lying around, I know they have zero resale value from motorola razers, star tacs to panasonic GD75 and several samsungs. Many still even have boxes lol

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