Phones are like cars — their value drops the moment you start using them. To wit, the, according to a report. That’s still alarming, since the phone is Samsung’s most recent flagship model and since you can typically resell a months-old device for a good chunk of what you originally paid for it.
Whether you resell a phone or trade it in to buy a new one, the same principle applies: how to get the most value from your device to get the most cash or biggest trade-in value you can.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet here. The absolute best way to retain a phone’s commercial value is to keep it in the best condition possible. Here’s how you do it.
Yes, it’s ugly. Yes, you need one: You probably already use a case to keep your phone’s delicate glass screen and back from breaking. Yes, it ruins the appeal of a particularly beautiful gradient design or color, but if you want to keep your phone looking whole and dent-free when you sell it, a case is the way to go.
Hot tip: Buy the case before you start using your phone. Phones can and do drop and shatter within minutes of coming out of the box.
What to look for: Complete coverage all around the edges, and some sort of rise — even a small one — between the screen and the case.
Why you need it: Glass screen protectors are sacrificial screens that you layer on top of the phone’s original display. There are oodles of them in your carrier store and online. A good one can cost a pretty penny, but a $30 screen protector is worth it in the long run if it helps you get hundreds of dollars more for your phone when it comes time to sell it or trade it in.
Keep a spare: Screen protectors can break when you drop the phone — that’s what it’s for. It’s not a bad idea to keep a spare on hand in case it breaks, so you won’t have a gap in protection if you do need to switch it out. If you don’t need it and you sell your phone on the open market, you can bundle the screen protector as part of the price.
Really: Carriers will prefer to have the charger, but may not care about the box when you trade-in a phone. But if you sell the phone through Craigslist or Swappa, your buyer will. Reboxing the phone in its original condition — or as close as you can to it — will make the device more appealing, which will translate into more bucks.
What about the case? You can sell that, too.
Cleanliness is money: This one’s important, whether you sell your phone to a stranger, through a third-party reseller like Gazelle or back to the carrier or manufacturer. You’ll get more for a phone that looks and works like new than you will for a crusty one.
Since you won’t get paid you until the buyer inspects your phone, you may not wind up with your asking price if the used device doesn’t match up to expectations.before sending it in is well worth the effort.
What about the parts? Wipe down the box and case with a lightly damp cloth or paper towel, too. Nobody’s buying your grime.
How to clean your phone (and things to never do)
Work the math: You might wind up with more in your pocket if you repair a broken phone (e.g., through U Break I Fix or Apple stores) before trying to sell it to a third-party reseller or trading it in.
Why even bother? Broken phones still retain some value because they can be refurbished or stripped for valuable parts to either recycle or repair other phones for resale.
How to tell: Go on a third-party reseller site or your carrier’s trade-in site to see how much they estimate the value to be for your cracked-screen or water-damaged phone, versus the value for a phone with no damage. Then compare that to the cost of a repair. If there’s enough of a difference (e.g., your phone is fairly new or in high demand), it might be worth the hassle.
In all cases you’ll need to backup your phone and return it to factory settings before handing it off. There’s much more information here about reselling a phone, including some suggestions for third-party resellers and how to compare pricing so you get the most bucks.
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