Hey all you device devotees who just can’t seem to say goodbye to their old smartphones. Now is the perfect time of year for you to turn those things into cash, whether to be used toward the purchase of something new or to be donated to charity.
Like a hound digging up a precious bone, it’s time to dig out all of your old devices and recycle them. You can always take a trip down memory lane before you let them go. But do let them go!
What am I going on about, you say?
According to a survey conducted by a company called Lookout, which is an industry leader in mobile security and the makers of an app that helps people safeguard their phones and their data even if it is lost or stolen, 62% of Americans have at least one old, unused smartphone in their home. While 21% have two and 9% have three.
After that we get into the rarefied air of the 11% who say that they have four or more old units buried somewhere in their household. These people can be properly classified as “phone hoarders”. A decidedly 21st century malady!
Taken as a whole, it amounts to a whole lot of unwanted smartphones. In fact, the survey suggests that if all of the unwanted mobile phones in the U.S. were to be physically lined up, there would be a mobile phone trail from San Francisco to the North Pole and back!
“We were surprised to learn how many people hold on to old phones,” said Jenny Roy, mobile safety advocate at Lookout. “People are concerned about the personal information living on the device, and we suspect it contributes to why people are still holding on to it. Before you donate, resell or recycle your phone, it’s important to take steps to remove the data so if your phone gets a new owner, your information does not get exposed.”
Nearly 52% of the people Lookout surveyed said they would give their phone to a charitable cause, while 22% said they would trade it or sell it for money. Whereas it is estimated that fewer than 11% of discarded mobile phones will actually be recycled.
Yet, according to Comparemymobile.com, which is a very cool website which allows you to list your old unit and then compare cash values from a large number of buyers, the average mobile phone owner has an estimated $160 worth of unused phones in their household.
So how can we put those unused, unwanted units back into service, for a good cause or for cash?
First save any data that you wish to preserve. If you want to save photos and other content from an old phone there are several options available, depending largely on the device type.
If your device uses a microSD card, many laptops and PCs have a slot which will allow you to plug the SD card directly into the computer and download anything on it. These files will generally consist of photos and video.
A better way would be to tether your smartphone to a laptop or PC via a USB connection which will then allow you to download any files that are present on the phone including contacts and such.
Or, if you want something easy and complete and you have an Android phone, try the service offered by Lookout Premium which will back up photos and contacts and can also restore data to a new device. They offer a 14 day free trial.
iPhone owners can use iCloud to back up and store their important data.
Next, wipe the phone clean. Most phones have some type of reset application which will bring the device back to factory specs. It’s important to remove all data from the phone before reselling, donating or recycling.
If you’re not sure, you can do a Google search on how to do a factory reset on your particular unit.
Again for Android devices Lookout Premium has an application which will wipe personal information, restoring the phone to its original settings.
And lastly, don’t forget the SIM card. If the phone has a SIM card, remove it to ensure that your information cannot be passed on to any potential future owner.
Once the personal data is removed or erased, the phone is ready to be recycled, sold or donated and there are a number of ways to go about it.
Most carriers have some type of buyback program but if you’re looking for top dollar, then check out Gazelle.com.
Or, if you want to recycle or donate, then might I suggest taking a look at one of my favorite programs (even if I wasn’t a Vet) called Cell Phones for Soldiers.
Whatever you do, just don’t leave that old smartphone, chock full of dust and memories, laying in the corner of a drawer somewhere.
Dig it out, clean it up, give it new life, and let it put a Christmas smile on someone’s face, even if it is just yours! It’s a great way to help yourself, to help others and to help protect the environment.