What to do with your old mobile phone

If you’ve got a new phone and don’t know what to do with your old handset, this guide can help. Here’s how to: sell, donate, recycle, or trade in your old mobile.

Due to COVID-19, not all the services mentioned in this guide may be available, so please check before you take any action.

Once your mobile phone contract has ended and your handset’s been paid off, you’ll probably be looking to buy a new phone.

Instead of just discarding your old one though, there are lots of things you could do with it, including selling it to make some money.

What are your options?

Here are the main things you could do with your old handset:

  1. Sell it
  2. Donate it
  3. Recycle it
  4. Trade it in
  5. Keep it

1. How to sell your phone

You can sell it yourself by either:

  1. Advertising it online on a suitable site
  2. Selling it to a company that buys used handsets

Sell it yourself

If you choose to sell it yourself, you could try one of these options:

  • Facebook marketplace - free to use
  • ebay - fees may apply
  • Gumtree - generally free to use

To get an idea of how much your phone might be worth, you can use the above sites to search for the make and model you’re looking to sell.

Sell it to a company

If you’d rather sell it directly to a company, here are some options:

It usually works like this:

  1. Get an instant quote for your phone by typing in the make and model.
  2. Confirm the sale and how you want to receive the money.
  3. Wait for a freepost envelope to arrive at your address. Then package your phone up and send it back to them for free.
  4. Allow time for your phone to be received and your payment to be processed (usually the same day they get your handset).

Shop around to get the best price for your phone and be sure to check the details.

For example, the initial price shown often assumes the phone’s in perfect condition and has the highest storage capacity. So, if your phone doesn’t match up, you’ll get less money for it.

Don’t wait to sell your phone as they quickly become outdated and are worth less when a new model comes out.

2. How to donate your phone

If you’re not bothered about getting any money for your phone and want to do a nice thing, most charities accept them.

If it’s not stated on their website, just call ahead and check, to save a wasted journey.

Charities can make money from your phone by passing it on to a company that will recycle it - so it’s also environmentally friendly.

Another option is to post an advert on a site like freetradeireland.ie and donate it directly to someone that needs it for free.

3. How to recycle your phone

If you want to be greener, recycling your phone is a great step towards this and you could make some money from it too. Here are some options to try:

*You don’t have to be a Three customer to use their service, they can recycle phones from any network.

You also have the option of taking your old handset to a Civic Amenity Site or WEEE recycling point, to be recycled with the electrical items. It’s free to do this but you won’t get any money back.

This ensures that each component is either disposed of safely or reused, and doesn’t end up in landfill.

Use the mywaste waste service locator to find your nearest electrical recycling facility.

4. How to trade in your phone

This is probably the easiest solution as you can trade your old handset when you buy your new phone. It also means you can offset the trade in price against things like:

  • Your new handset
  • Accessories
  • Your monthly bill
  • Pay as you go top ups

Most network providers like Vodafone, and mobile retailers like Carphone Warehouse let you trade in any phone on any network.

When you trade it in, the retailer is likely to refurbish your phone or recycle it, so it’s a way of being paid to do the right thing for the environment.

5. Should you keep your phone?

This may sound an obvious option but it’s often overlooked as it’s easy to get into the cycle of buying a new phone as soon as your contract ends.

Keeping your existing phone is a great way to save money. Once your contract has ended, your phone is paid off so you can switch to a SIM-only deal which is much cheaper - as you’re just paying for the data, texts and minutes you need.

So, if your phone’s in good condition and has all the functions you need, you might want to consider hanging onto it for a bit longer.

SIM-only contracts are really flexible - usually on a rolling 30 day basis.

This means that if you decide to swap your phone a couple of months down the line, you won’t have to wait for a lengthy contract to end.

You could also keep your old handset as a spare, in case something goes wrong with your new phone or it goes missing.

What should you do before you get rid of your phone?

However you decide to get rid of your phone, there are a few things you should do first:

  • Back up your data e.g. photos, music, messages, emails, contacts etc
  • Turn off any payment services e.g. Apple pay where your card details are stored
  • Sign out of apps that hold your personal details e.g. Facebook, Gmail and LinkedIn
  • Delete any saved passwords on your browsers
  • Remove your SIM card and any external storage
  • Do a factory reset to wipe the phone

If you have an iPhone, make sure the ‘Find my iPhone’ feature is switched off.

If you’re not sure how to do any of these steps, you could check:

  • The user manual
  • The provider’s website, including the FAQ section
  • By searching on Google
  • By calling the provider directly

You should also pack the phone up in the original box if you have it, along with any accessories it came with, if they’ve been agreed as part of the sale.

How to find the best bill pay phone deal

If you’ve decided to get a new phone, check out our tips on how to find the best bill pay phone deal.

Whether you’re looking for an iPhone, Samsung, or Huawei, we compare some of the best deals in Ireland and help you understand each handset’s features.

If you’re investing in an expensive handset, our guide: Do you need mobile phone insurance? is also well worth a read.

How to find the best SIM-only deal

If you’re swaying towards keeping your phone for a bit longer, take a look at our SIM-only bill pay deals.

We compare deals from all the main providers in Ireland and prices start from as little as €10.

Get a SIM only deal with the calls, texts and data you need for less.

It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving.