What should I do with my old smartphone?

4 min

The joy of the new smartphone lasts an average of just 18 to 24 months – then most of them treat themselves to a fresher model. But where do you put your old device: sell it, give it away or just throw it in the trash? We reveal what is best for the wallet and what is best for the environment.

Get out of the drawers


According to BITKOM projections, there are more than 200 million old cell phones in German households.

A BITKOM extrapolation from a survey of around 1,000 people showed that there would have to be around 206 million old cell phones in German households in 2021. Even if it seems sensible at first glance to have a replacement device ready to hand, device hoarding is questionable from an ecological point of view.

Because smartphones contain a lot of rare and valuable resources that cannot be returned to the raw material cycle through storage. From a sustainability perspective, the devices should either remain in use for as long as possible or, after they are no longer used, be returned to the raw material cycle. But what to do with the unused old devices?

Where to Get Rid of Old Cell Phones?


Especially with older iPhones, good sales prices can still be achieved long after the market launch.

Anyone who regularly buys a new smartphone and is reasonably careful with their current device has a good chance of getting one or two euros on the used market. This is particularly lucrative for owners of popular models.

A quick check on various purchase platforms on the Internet reveals that a used iPhone X with 256 GB in very good condition still costs between 230 and 360 euros (as of October 2021, depending on the available accessories, battery status, etc.).

Auctioning smartphones

Those who are not afraid of the effort can use auction platforms such as eBay the largest group of interested parties. However, creating and maintaining an auction takes time and effort, without being sure that the old smartphone will find a buyer willing to pay. On the other hand, the process is somewhat more informal and direct eBay classifieds. In contrast to its big brother, there are no fees for private individuals with the regional advertising portal. However, if you do not live in a big city or a metropolitan area, the circle of potential buyers remains manageable.

Sell ​​cell phones

Direct sales to so-called online buying services such as mySwooop, ZOXS, we buy or reBuy. Simply enter the model of your mobile phone, answer questions about the condition of the device and the provider will reveal what maximum he is willing to pay. However, you will only find out the actual sales price after the smartphone has been sent in. If the proceeds are lower than expected, the device can be sent back to you.

Exchange your smartphone at SATURN

In some SATURN branches you can buy your old smartphone on special PHONE Sell&Go-Automaten can also be exchanged for shopping vouchers. To do this, you put your smartphone in the machine, enter its product features and the machine checks the status of the smartphone. You will then be offered a SATURN voucher in the corresponding amount for your smartphone.

In the meantime, however, many smartphone manufacturers also offer such as Samsung or Apple even offer exchange options for older cell phones. In return, you will either receive a voucher from the respective manufacturer or a direct discount when buying a newer smartphone model. In any case, it is worthwhile to check the offers of various providers in advance. This is the only way to find out who is offering you the most money for your smartphone.

Donate cell phone

Nokia 3310

Your old Nokia 3310 can still do good.

If the mobile phone is too old or if it is not worth selling for other reasons, there is still an opportunity to do something good. Many non-profit organizations raise money by selling old cell phones on a large scale to recycling companies or overseas. The Naturschutzbund Deutschland, for example, has the project “Cell phones for bumblebees, bees and Co.” was launched, with the proceeds flowing into the NABU insect protection fund. You can find an overview of current donation and collection campaigns for old cell phones and smartphones on Handyverkauf.net website.

Dispose of it yourself: the right way!

If you don’t want to bother to find the right project and the appropriate collection point, you can of course dispose of your disused smartphone yourself. However, the cell phone must not be disposed of with normal household waste. Because of the sometimes toxic substances and the valuable raw materials, the mobile phone has no place in the simple garbage can. Given the fact that around 95 percent of precious metals recycling of a cell phone, cell phone recycling is a contribution to environmental protection and sustainability that should not be underestimated.

Local recycling centers, for example, are a suitable buyer for old smartphones. You can find out where your next collection point is at Recyclinghof.net. Most network operators and mobile phone shops also take old devices back free of charge and take care of their disposal or recycling (refurbishing).

Before sale or disposal: delete data!

Android reset

Before you sell, give away or recycle your mobile phone, you should delete all personal data.

Regardless of whether the old smartphone finds a new owner or is to be scrapped, you should first delete all private data from your mobile phone. In order to make sure that there are no pictures, contact or access data somewhere on the device, it is recommended to reset the smartphone to the factory or delivery state (factory reset). The device deletes all personal data in the device memory. If there is still an external memory card, it should be removed before recycling.


  • A good 95 percent of the precious metals in a smartphone can be reused if properly reconditioned
  • You don’t have to recycle unused smartphones directly, you can also sell them on to other users or give them away
  • Discarded smartphones sometimes still fetch good prices on the used market, so selling them can be worthwhile
  • The highest profits are on eBay, but selling on the auction platform requires some effort
  • It is easier and faster using the various purchase services, but you usually don’t get that high income here
  • Another alternative are trade-in programs from manufacturers
  • Old cell phones in particular can also be handed in to many aid organizations, which use them to collect funds for their projects
  • The local recycling center also accepts old devices free of charge and takes care of environmentally friendly disposal
  • Before you give the phone out of your hand, make sure to delete all personal data


Passionate about DIY for over 10 years and all the new tools, I give you through this blog all my advice, tips, tests in all areas: carpentry, electricity, masonry, gardening, home automation ...


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