How to dispose of your old phone via recycling


How to dispose of your old phone via recycling, upcycling, donating, or selling it. Do good, make money, or be clever? Here’s how to recycle or find a new home for your smartphone, according to our experts. It’s time to declutter. There’s a decent possibility you have a phone (or several phones) laying around your house that you don’t use. Every month, its worth depreciates, bringing it closer to oblivion of security-update-free obsolescence. Let’s do something about it before things become any worse. There are three viable options for repurposing your old phone.

You can give it to one of a slew of charitable organisations, which will either put it in the hands of someone in need or “convert” it to cash without requiring you to do any heavy lifting. You can either sell the phone through one of the many online ads and auction sites, or through one of the large middle-man reseller websites. It’s time to declutter. There’s a decent possibility you have a phone (or several phones) laying around your house that you don’t use. Every month, its worth depreciates, bringing it closer to oblivion of security-update-free obsolescence. Let’s do something about it before things become any worse.

There are three viable options for repurposing your old phone. You can give it to one of a slew of charitable organisations, which will either put it in the hands of someone in need or “convert” it to cash without requiring you to do any heavy lifting. You can either sell the phone through one of the many online ads and auction sites, or through one of the large middle-man reseller websites.You may even find a new job for your old phone, which is a tech nerd favourite. Every Android and iPhone is a little computer, a camera, and a control surface with endless possibilities.But first, let’s look at donation apps that let your phone to do some good in the world.

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Give your phone to charity

Before you donate or trade, think about what you want to get out of it.
Before trading in or donating a phone, it should always be factory reset. This wipes out all of your personal information, installed apps, and, of course, any security features that would prevent someone from bypassing the lock screen. It only takes a few seconds. Go to Settings > General > Reset on an iPhone. Select Erase All Content and Settings from the drop-down menu. On Android, the specific location of the reset choices changes significantly between models, although it’s normally found in Settings > System > Advanced > Reset, or something similar.

Look for the “factory reset” or “delete all data” reset type.We wouldn’t recommend donating a phone to a charity that redistributes technology if it only works half of the time. Is your phone’s speaker broken? Is it impossible to connect to Wi-Fi? You’re passing your problem on to someone else, albeit factory resetting a phone to check if the problem is software-related is occasionally worthwhile. Some gadget recycling organisations will accept “faulty” phones and ship them somewhere other than the landfill.


Reconnected is the name of Three’s mobile phone donation service. It’s a collaboration with GSUK, a multinational firm that assists retailers and manufacturers in avoiding landfill by selling outdated and returned inventory. There is a positive ethical argument even when other clients use GSUK to recover some value from returned stock. Phones sent to Three Reconnected are either scrapped or donated to community organisations if they fail GSUK’s quality standards tests. These organisations offer phones to people who might not otherwise be able to purchase one.The phones are given out for free for 90 days on Three’s network, after which the recipient must join up for Three services like everyone else. In the long run, Three benefits, but it also offers some of the more economical SIM-only options.

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile Reconnects is the name of Tesco’s phone donation programme. It’s a collaboration with Crisis, a homelessness organisation. Tesco Mobile Reconnects will never give your phone to a homeless person. It is “converted to cash,” with the earnings going into a fund to provide Crisis with phones and other equipment. This initiative began in late 2020 and will last until 2023, according to current projections.

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Fonebank is a trade-in service that also allows you to contribute a portion of the revenues, or all of them, to one of three organisations. WaterAid, Oxfam, and the National Trust are among them.This is a fantastic option if you want to do some good while also trying to recoup some money to help pay for a new phone.

Community Laptops C.I.C

One of the most recent schemes we’ve encountered is this little charitable organisation. It debuted towards the end of 2020, with the goal of addressing Covid-19-exacerbated digital inequities. Phones, laptops, and tablets that have been donated will be delivered to schools, community groups, and individuals who are in need. You can reach out to the team directly at, however you should double-check that your technology complies with the rules. Community Laptops looks to be run by a small group of people who are already working full-time.Community Laptops does not refurbish devices; they must be in good working order and include the charger. You’ll also need to perform a factory reset on the phone, which we always recommend. Only phones, laptops, and tablets from 2010 or later are accepted, however we wouldn’t recommend donating an iPhone or Android from that era because software support will have expired years ago.


O2 and the charity Hubbub have teamed up to create Community Calling. It began operations in 2020 with the goal of providing phones to “digitally excluded households.” Community Calling has now expanded to Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, South Wales, and Glasgow, following a successful pilot in London. Its goal is to reach 10,000 households. Redistribution of donated phones comes with a year of “free credit” from O2.

Little Lives

Little Lives is a tiny charity with three stores in Raynes Park, Tooting, and Fulham Broadway, London. Phones will be given to “schools, councils, and refugee centres” with which it works, or sold to help support its charity activities, according to the company. On the charity’s website, you can print a pre-paid envelope.

Trade in your phone

A slew of firms are willing to pay you money for your old phone. These are services that recycle phones. Take the term “recycling” with a grain of salt. Many simply take your phone in, inspect it, and then sell it to someone else. You can get rates from these organisations by visiting their websites; they will send you a courier label and, in most cases, pay you quickly after it is received.There’s no risk of being conned out of your money by a shady buyer; the only risk is that your phone will be lost in transit.

Before choosing a phone recycler, have a look at the condition criteria for each site. Also, be honest with yourself. You may have stopped noticing the deep 1cm-long scratch on the side of your iPhone, but it’s certainly enough for many of these recyclers to degrade it to “bad” condition. As a result, the amount of money you receive will be reduced. Here are some of the most well-known names in the phone recycling industry.

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Recycle O2

O2 Recycle is an alternative to O2’s philanthropic phone recycling programme that isn’t as warm and fuzzy. Ingram Micro Services Ltd is in charge of its administration. Rather than O2, the contract is with that company. Take a look at O2 Recycle’s terms and conditions, as it explains how the grading system may affect the amount of money you receive.


CeX, a high-street retailer, is the logical location to sell your phone. You will normally receive less money if you have a storefront presence than if you sell your phone to one of the remote phone recyclers. If you pay with shop credit rather than cash, the cost rises dramatically.

Mazuma Mobile

One of the most well-known phone trade-in sites is Mazuma Mobile. It just utilises two grades to determine condition, presuming your phone is in good shape. However, keep in mind that it will be classified as “bad” if the battery health is less than 80%, if there is any case engraving, or if there are major scratches. It will be classified as faulty if you manage to set off the LDI, or liquid damage indicator.

Music Magpie

Mazuma Mobile’s main competitor is Music Magpie. It employs an almost same rating system and, in some situations, appears to pay more for “poor” condition phones.


One of the more generous phone trade-in sites is Envirofone. Its grading system is significantly less black-and-white than Mazuma Mobile or Music Magpie’s, and its parent business used to operate Three and O2’s trade-in programmes. Envirofone, on the other hand, went into administration in July 2020 and was bought out by TES in September. Its terms and conditions indicate that you should still be able to get a reasonable trade-in price for a working phone, but internal working procedures may have altered since the takeover. Envirofone rewards shop credit distributions with a bonus. Sellmyphone, Handtec, and GoodBuyTech are three other phone trade-in businesses.

Sell your phone privately

Are you dissatisfied with the trade-in values? You can sell your phone privately, and you’ll almost certainly make more money. However, there are certain drawbacks. There’s more paperwork to do. You’ll need to create a new account if you don’t already have one, as well as a listing and photos of your phone. A better photo usually translates to a higher ultimate sale price. There’s also the possibility of being duped by a buyer. Always send your phone via a tracking service that confirms delivery to avoid this. This, however, does not provide complete protection. Paypal, the most commonly utilised service in these transactions, has a strong buyer protection system that can be abused by unscrupulous internet buyers. Private selling, on the other hand, nets the highest money for those ready to incur a headache and a slight danger of losing money. If a possible buyer requests something unusual, such as payment through a business you’ve never heard of or half payment after receiving the phone, consider it’s a scam.


This is something you’re already aware of. Go to eBay to sell your phone and reach the largest possible audience for your listing. While you may be able to list your item for free, eBay charges a 10% final value fee. eBay is working on implementing direct-to-bank payments, however PayPal transactions are subject to a 5% surcharge.

Facebook Marketplace

If you want to sell your phone locally, you should go to Facebook Marketplace. You can avoid some of the possible hassles of remote private selling by selling in person, if covid constraints allow, and exchanging cash. To avoid haggling about the pricing in a public park, make sure your images are good and your description is truthful.


An alternative to PayPal or Gumtree that is smaller and less aggressive. Preloved is a website where you can buy and sell used items. There are no selling fees, and you can sign up for an account for free. Preloved generates money by charging members fees to respond to newly listed ads and create fancier listings with video embeds and larger image galleries. Because there is no payment system, it is best used in person payments.


Gumtree is a fantastic location to sell phones locally because it is home to pelotons of stolen bikes and small cities of questionable flat postings. In this way, it’s similar to Facebook Marketplace. What’s the difference between the two? Simply said, you’re reaching a somewhat different audience. Gumtree does not provide any specific seller safeguards, so be cautious.

Uses for old phones

It’s not necessary to get rid of your old phone. Here are some suggestions for how you can utilise it both inside and outside the home.

In-car GPS

The battery of a phone is depleted via GPS. Why not make your old phone a semi-permanent part of your car’s navigation system with Waze and Google Maps? Most dashboard phone mounts have rapid release mechanisms so you can avoid attracting robbers who could break in if the phone is still worth stealing.

Smart-home control panel

One of the coolest new uses for an old phone is as a control panel for smart-home technology. To make it seem more like a made-to-measure smart-home interface, use an app like Ariela to get a front-end for a variety of different devices and to put control widgets onto the home screen. Do you have enough smart-home technology? The phone might be used as a music controller for sounds streamed over Bluetooth or Chromecast to a hifi. Maybe a dedicated Sonos Wi-Fi controller? If getting away from your “normal” phone while at home is a problem, this project might be a good fit.DIYers might even wish to build a phone enclosure out of MDF that hangs on the wall and hides the phone’s outside case. However, this will only work with phones that have in-screen fingerprint scanners, which eliminates the requirement for access to the side power button.

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Computer webcam

If you have a laptop, it most likely has a poor webcam. As a replacement, you can use the camera on your old phone. Using the DroidCam app on your phone and the accompanying client on your desktop, this works best with an Android phone and a Windows PC. Try Elgato’s Epoccam for iPhones. Clients are available for Windows and MacOS. Try Iriun 4K for cross-platform use. The amount of lag you experience will differ. DroidCam, in our experience, works best through USB, with virtually no lag (it can also connect over Wi-Fi).

Security camera and baby monitor

Your old phone may be transformed into a baby monitor or a smart security camera. You can monitor the camera view from one phone using Alfred, which you may download on both your current and old phones. Alfred is a completely free programme to use and download. There are a lot of commercials, but if you pay to Alfred Premium or Plus, you can get rid of them. Plus is a one-time fee that removes advertisements. Premium is based on a subscription model that allows users to access advanced features such as motion detection and cloud storage of recorded video. If you already have a camera system, such as Nest, bear in mind that you may turn your old phone into a dedicated viewer for these apps as well.