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Mobile money: Old phones worth £14bn hoarded in UK homes

Mobile money: Old phones worth £14bn hoarded in UK homes
Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman
Posted:
17/10/2023
Updated:
20/10/2023

There are almost 150m old, unused, mobile phones and other devices collecting dust in UK homes which could be worth £13.9bn in total or £94.92 per adult.

More than a quarter (27%) of adults in the UK said they had two old devices in their homes, while 19% have three, and 17% have four or more.

A third of those people have had old devices for two or three years, and 16% have had them for four or more years. Yet, the value of these old devices could be worth almost £14bn, if they were to resell them.

The main reason people were unwilling to pass on an old device was data security, according to 20% of the 2,000 people asked by Mazuma, which carried out the research, and 17% said they thought they might need to use the device again one day.

Geographically, those in Glasgow had the highest value of old tech, an average of £110 per adult. In London it was £104, Cardiff, £101, and Birmingham, £98.

One in five of those asked by the reselling website said they didn’t know it was possible to sell an old device and 34% said they didn’t know they could resell devices including tablets, smart watches, laptops, and game consoles.

Just over one in 10 of those asked (13%) said they would prefer to throw away old devices instead of trading them in for money.

Re-sell your old devices, or donate them to charity

There are several different websites where you can sell old devices, from mobile phones to laptops. It’s important to compare the amount of money you’ll get for an old device, as the figures can vary depending on which website you use.

At Mazuma, for example, you could get £230 for an old iPhone 12 64GB which is in excellent condition, or £95 for the same phone if it has a fault. At We Buy Any Phone, you could get £242 for the phone if it’s in excellent condition.

Using a comparison website, such as Sellmymobile.com, is an easy way to quickly compare the price offered by several different reselling websites. Some companies also charge for extra fees including for postage and packaging and you’ll need to factor this into the overall amount.

You could also use a website such as Facebook Marketplace, Vinted, or eBay but, if so, you’ll need to make sure you’re following the guidelines of the specific company. If you are selling an item for cash, for example, it’s usually safer to use a payment service such as Paypal instead of the seller giving you cash.

It’s also possible to donate an old phone or device to a charity. Oxfam, for example, takes old phones in its branches or via Fonebank. All data is wiped from the mobile and any that can’t be sold are sent to be recycled, which will also generate money for the charity.

Up to £700 for an old iPhone

Craig Smith, managing director at Mazuma, said: “Despite these shocking figures about the number of devices going to waste, it’s great to see that 77% of Brits say they would consider using a service to trade in their old tech in the future.

“Not only is this a huge benefit to your personal finances, with quotes reaching £700+ for a recent iPhone model, but it is also much safer for disposing of your data than simply throwing the device away, as each device is securely wiped prior to recycling.

“It is also much better for the environment, as once devices are thrown away and sent to landfill, they start to breakdown naturally, expelling toxins into the soil and causing devastating effects on ecosystems for many generations.”