Dealing With Your Outdated Electronics

Were you one of the millions of people anxiously awaiting the new iPhone XS or other state-of-the-art device? When you got your hands on that coveted gadget, did you toss your “old” device into a box at the back of your closet containing all of the other tech you’ve loved before? If you did, you aren’t alone, but there are better ways to handle outdated electronics.

Sell Them Sooner Than Later

Selling a cell phone is a great way to offset a bit of the often-exorbitant cost of a new one. Newer phones usually are in high demand, and including the original charger and even the box (if you kept it) can sweeten the sale. Online selling options include Swappa (for phones, laptops, cameras, and watches), Gazelle (for phones, computers, and tablets), and reliable eBay (for all of the above).

Recycle that Brick

Get instant cash for older, damaged, and even totally unusable devices at an EcoATM kiosk. Located in a growing number of large grocery stores and shopping centers, the big green machines (resembling ATMs) provide immediate evaluation and payment for used phones. EcoATM aims to reuse as many pieces of tech as possible, and they recycle any truly useless devices that they receive.

Donate to a Good Cause

Your old phone is a charitable donation waiting to happen, and there are numerous good causes to support. By law, all cell phones sold in the United States must be capable of calling 911. Secure the Call started as an electronics recycling group that now supplies cell phones to people who may need emergency services, such as senior citizens and domestic-abuse victims.

Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts donated cell phones, tablets, and MP3 players by mail or at drop-off locations around the country. Preowned devices are sold to an electronics recycler, and the funds generated are used to buy prepaid international calling cards for troops.

Prepare for the Phone Handoff

Before you sell, recycle, or donate your old phone, there are steps you should take for security’s sake.

  • First, be sure to back up the data you wish to keep. Your pics, contacts, calendars, call and text message history, and other information may already be synced to Google or the cloud, but double check before proceeding, and call your service provider for more detailed instructions.
  • Once you’ve saved your files, you should deregister any accounts on your phone; under “settings,” look for the “remove account” option.
  • The last step is to securely erase all your personal data. Encryption is a big help here, and all iPhones since the 3GS are encrypted by default. To erase an iPhone, go to “settings,” “general,” “reset,” and then choose “erase all content and settings.” For Android devices, be sure encryption is in place before erasing; again, contacting your service provider is helpful if you are unsure of the steps.