You can earn thousands on old unused cell phones

Big call: comedian Dom Joly attends the launch of a retro Nokia 3310

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, a quarter of UK households have at least one old, unused mobile phone gathering dust. But millions of people could miss out on a nice profit as handsets can still be worth something even if they are old or broken.

A few rare models can fetch thousands of pounds as collectibles. But even more common versions can still have value.

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Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 14 went on sale on Friday, sparking excitement among fans of new technologies. This is the first model that can automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident and allows you to send text messages using a satellite connection when you can’t get a signal or wifi.

But there are also plenty of reasons to get excited about older handsets – some could even set you back thousands of pounds.

The old phones that are worth thousands

Mobile phones are so ubiquitous that it may seem difficult to imagine that they could be considered collectibles. However, some of the oldest and most iconic can now demand large sums.

Lynsey Chilcott of Love Antiques explains: “The earliest telephones were not made on the scale they are today and so many are rare and continue to have value as antiques. collection.”

She adds that if you own one of these older phones, you should seek expert advice and consider auctioning to get the best prices.

Golden old ones… as big as bricks

Early mobile phones were the size of bricks, heavy and had short battery life. Today they are gone, but iconic and collectible.

Motorola 8000x £800-£3,500

The original ancestor of cell phones. It came out in 1983 and was heavy, huge and with a 30 minute battery life.

Mobira Senator NMT £800-£2,000

Technically a car phone, this handset was arguably the first portable mobile and went on sale in 1981.

PC105T Technophone £600-£1,500

The 1986 Technophone was the first phone designed to fit neatly in a shirt pocket. It had a price tag of £1,990 – the equivalent of £6,481 in today’s money. He won the Prince of Wales Prize in 1988.

Make a fortune with a Luxe phone

Over the years, phone companies have released limited-edition deluxe versions of handsets designed for posing as much as texting or making calls. Some are valuable today.

Virtue signature M £50-£20,000+

Nokia launched its Vertu Signature range in 2003. Standard Vertu phones now sell for around £50, but some of the luxury versions are worth thousands. A diamond encrusted model in 18 carat white gold is worth over £20,000, provided you have the original packaging and papers to prove authenticity.

Nokia Sapphire 8800 £500 – £2,000

Released in 2005, there are versions with leather, titanium and carbon fiber covers and even a real sapphire instead of the navigation button. Also available in 18 carat gold plated.

Not for sale… but still wanted

Models that never make it to market are often the most valuable and sought after due to their rarity. There are plenty of fakes floating around, so only buy from a reputable seller or auction house.

Pre-production prototype iPhone 1 £10,000+

Apple’s iPhone released in 2007 marked a turning point in mobile technology. If you have one of the early 2G phones it’s probably worth around £2000 if it’s still in the box. But prototype models can fetch tens of thousands of pounds. Prices vary widely but have reached £30,000 at online auctions, according to Love Antiques.

Nokia 7700 £1,000 – £2,000

Another prototype, this model was never sold, so handsets are rare. It dates back to 2003 and would have beaten the iPhone as the world’s first smartphone… if it had ever been released.

Ringing a fortune: Left to right, Motorola 8000x; the £20,000 diamond-encrusted virtue; the technophone; Nokia Sapphire; the prototype of the iPhone 1; and the Nokia 7700, which was never sold

Treasury of common models

There are a number of tech dealers who will buy phones even if they are old or damaged. These include musicMagpie, We Buy Any Phone, Compare and Recycle, Mazuma and Envirofone. You might only gain a few pounds, but it’s better than letting it gather dust. Antonia Hristov, expert at tech resale service Compare and Recycle, says a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in good condition will set you back £20. Apple iPhone 6, also in good condition, can set you back up to £14; The Motorola Moto G4 is worth between £14 and £16 depending on internal stock; and the first generation Google Pixel still costs up to £20.

“The best-selling phone is an iPhone 11 and is worth up to £317,” says Hristov. “The oldest mobile phones in the top 20 are the original iPhone SE and iPhone 6, both over five years old.”

Online marketplace eBay, Gumtree and other Facebook or local online community groups allow you to list your old phone and determine the asking price. You might get more than from a technical reseller, but it involves more hassle.

Before selling or giving away an old handset, make sure to erase all your data, remove the SIM card and restore it to factory settings.

Remember… all old phones have value

Even if you can’t sell your old phone, it may still be valuable to someone else. They can be refurbished and given to people who cannot afford to buy their own, or taken apart and their parts recycled.

You can donate old phones to Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal or O2’s Community Calling. Compare and recycle, sell my mobile and compare my mobile bundle offers from dozens of services that will buy, redistribute or recycle your old phones for you.

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