Growing Industry Gives Broken Cell Phones Exception Resale Value
These days, your options on how and where to sell broken cell phones are numerous.
With so many options available to cell phone consumers, it can be difficult to understand just exactly what the best option is for your device. Online marketplaces, trade-in companies, and buyback companies all have their pros and cons.
Understanding all of your options and the advantages or each is vital to ensuring that you get the best value and service based on your specific situation.
We’ll show you this in a real example where we took similar defective cell phones and sold them in the most popular marketplaces in the cell phone collections industry.
Value of Cracked, Damaged and Broken Cell Phones
Cell phones in the past that have minor cosmetic or functionality issues were perceived as having significantly reduced value, and most places would recycle them for free or offer an extremely low amount of money for your device. However, today’s market has really changed in favor of the end user.
- In 2005, only 65% of American adults owned a cell phone.
- In 2013, adult cell phone ownership has increased to 91%.
- In 2013, 53% of these adults owned a smartphone, up 11% in just one year.
- In 2012, 38% of iPhone users were first time smartphone users.
Much of the news focuses on the newly released models, such as the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S4 – but not everyone has one. The growing segment of first time users and overall cell phone usage means that secondhand smartphones are in huge demand, including broken cell phones. Savvy cellular industry companies have noticed this trend and have tailored their business models to repairing broken cell phones to return back into an extremely lucrative secondhand market. The same trends seen here in the USA can also be seen in foreign countries.
Just exactly what does this mean in regards to value when you sell broken cell phones?
A defective device might require some TLC to get back to a fully functional condition. However, the inventory to fill the secondhand market’s demand is so large that companies must offer competitive prices for both fully functional and broken mobile phones. Consumers looking to get the best value for their broken device should realize this and know that many options allow them to receive almost similar value for a broken device when compared to a fully functional one.
In many cases, these companies will be fully reconditioning and refurbishing your broken device and then reselling them back into the marketplace. This means heavily used phones with increased cosmetic wear have very little effect on a company’s cost to refurbish. They’re going to be replacing your LCD/digitizer screen whether it has one small hairline scratch or it’s heavily damaged with a significant amount of cracks.
If you sell broken cell phones that have functional defects, the cost to refurbish will surely increase. However, many of these businesses are able to sell the broken LCD screens and other small parts to other companies whose niche is reclaiming defective parts back to a fully functional condition as a service for the repair company. At the end of the day, the business side of the industry has grown just as fast as the demand, allowing broken devices to be repaired at a much lower cost and much more easily than in previous times.
Best Way to Sell Broken Cell Phones (Case Study)
In our study, we attempted to sell only broken devices back into the market using the most popular marketplaces and companies we could think of.
The most important details:
- iPhone 4s
- AT&T Carrier
- All had cracks on the front LCD screen but were otherwise fully functional devices.
We tested the following marketplaces:
- Online Buyback Companies
- Retail Trade-in Programs
- Carrier Trade-in Programs
Broken Cell Phones Marketplace Comments on Findings
- Sold for $232 on 3-day auction format.
- Sold for $255 on Buy It Now only listing format after eight days.
It’s fairly easy to list a broken cell phone on eBay, and most people have an eBay and PayPal account to collect payment on. There was a difference of $23 increase in sale price by listing the item as a Buy It Now only, but it also took nearly 3X as long to sell the item. In order to command the higher price with the Buy It Now format, it does take some ability to research eBay to feel out the market value and the likelihood that at a given price you can sell it. While doing my own research for this listing, I notice that most individual end-user eBay sellers do not take the time to fully describe their unit and receive lower bid amounts due to the lack of detail.
- Not Able to Sell Broken Cell Phones on Amazon – N/A
It had been a while since I sold on Amazon, and they’ve definitely made some changes. When I first started selling as a business, approval was required to sell cell phones. Shortly after, they opened up the category to everyone. Seems these days Amazon prefers to leave the heavily used and broken cell phones to the garage sale marketplaces like eBay. They’ve since limited the conditions you can sell ranging from New to Good condition. However, I saw many sellers who had phones with cracked LCD screens for sale. In my eyes, it’s not worth attempting to sell on Amazon and receiving an account violation. I was surprised when they allowed end users to sell their phones on Amazon, so I’m also not surprised that they tightened up what actually gets sold. Amazon’s “typical” customer isn’t out to buy something defective or in bad condition.
- Sold for $200 in two Days.
Posting an ad for a broken cell phone on Craigslist is even easier than eBay. Within a couple minutes of posting, I had a phone call and two e-mails. These initial offers were extremely low ($100-$175) so I opted to give it a little bit of time before pulling the listing. After a few more low ball offers, the phone finally sold the next morning to a gentleman who repaired iPhones from his home and then resold them on eBay and Amazon. He offered $215 if I drove out his way. Receiving ten $20 bills in my wallet in two days is hard to beat.
Afterwards, I thought I might have been able to get a little more or sell it faster if I reached out to the individuals and companies that post buyback ads in the cell phone category
Online Buyback Company Offers
- Gazelle.com – $75
- USell.com – $130
- Technollo.com – $100
- BuyMyTronics.com – $59
- Nextworth.com – $126
- Cash4iPhones.com – $165
- ItsWorthMore.com – $160
Average Price was $116
These online buyback companies do not seem to offer anywhere near fair market value for broken cell phones. I’m sure they have more expenses than a garage repair tech responding to a Craigslist ad (advertising, shipping supplies, postage, etc.) What was alarming was the limited selection options provided for their website visitors to choose from if the device was damaged. On many, the only option is to select “broken” as the condition, meaning that a phone that did not power on or have multiple functional defects carries the same price as an iPhone with just a broken LCD screen.
Retail Trade-in Programs
- Gamestop – $99.80 Cash or $125 In-Store Credit
- Target – $103.80 Cash or Trade-in Value
Very low prices. Can do online or in-store. Only useful if you need quick cash to buy something within these retail stores. Seems most of them team up with one of the other online buyback companies as well.
Carrier Trade-in & Buy Back Programs
- Verizon – $76
- Sprint – $149
- T-Mobile – $195
- AT&T – $66.50
T-Mobile showed an impressive $195 online or trade-in credit through their store. All the rest were cash or trade-in value for store credit.
If you’re in the market to sell broken cell phones, where you choose to perform the trade-in makes a huge difference in the value you’ll receive. Most of the in-store trade-in and buybacks seem to be banking on convenience rather than price, while online buyback companies all have low offers. The trade-off is you never have to leave your home to get paid – but at a large difference in buyback price.T-Mobile was the only company that seemed to really offer a competitive rate for buying back your mobile phone.
If you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort, selling on eBay and Craigslist is by far the best way to sell broken cell phones.
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