Selling a Samsung Galaxy S4

How to sell your old Android smartphone or tablet and get the most money possible towards a new one

With so many sweet new Android phones coming out, you may be trying to figure out how you can budget for one of them. The most sensible way to make some extra coin in this case is to sell off your old Android phone, but there are a lot of different ways to do that, and it's hard figuring out which one will get you the most money for your used Android device.

Preparing to sell your Android device

Though you may be tempted to put up a sale listing for your Android device right away, there's quite a bit of prep work involved before getting the gears turning. These steps are absolutely essential in making sure you can get the very most cash for your phone, and are helpful to keep in mind for your next device to retain resale value.

Wipe your Android device and clear all data

You use your phone for some very personal tasks, and the last thing you want is letting someone else have access to any of that related information. That means conducting a factory reset on the Android device you want to sell. The process is very straightforward, but varies by device. Start by tapping the Settings icon, and see if there's a Backup & Reset option on the list. Otherwise, it may be under Security or Memory subsections.

Also, remember to remove or wipe your SD card separately, since it will often keep much of your data, such as photos, music, and downloads. You'll also need to remove your SIM card so you can bring your service and phone number to your new device, or at least prevent a stranger from reactivating your account.

Clean up your Android device and take great pictures

After a lengthy period of use, your Android device is going to have some wear. That's a given. Some of the dings you might not be able to ignore (and remind you why it's a good idea to have a case), but you can still clean up the device a fair bit. Clear lint out of the cracks of the device, including any USB or headphone jacks, and give every flat surface a good wipe down.

Next you'll need to take some high-quality photos of your device. Get some good light, set up a tripod, and get shooting. Though it may be tempting to gloss over the defects, be honest and include shots of the nicks your device has accumulated; buyers will act in good faith knowing what they're getting into, and make sure you get good feedback once the transaction's complete.

Include accessories and original cables

Optimus Black wires

If you're anything like us, you save your boxes from your device purchases, if only as trophies. These are good to use when selling your device to someone, not to mention including any original cables or accessories. It's entirely likely that you already had USB cables and earbuds in use when you first got your phone, leaving whatever was included in the box in good condition. Even if they aren't in great shape, try to track them down and include them in the sale for completeness sake. Even the documentation is nice to keep included. Often sellers will include their aftermarket accessories as added bonuses, which should help keep the price up. It's a sensible thing to do, since things like cases aren't going to be particularly useful with your new device.

Unlock your phone

Why limit your potential buyers to customers from just one carrier? Having a SIM-unlocked unlocked opens up how many potential buyers you can appeal to with your Android device sale. Sure, they can get devices unlocked themselves, but this saves them the extra step and adds value to your device. If you're feeling really helpful, you can identify which bands your phone supports, and say which local carriers can be used with your phone in the product description.

Putting your Android device up for sale

Now that all of the preparation is done, you're ready to box up your phone and put up a listing. We've got a few options here on where to sell your Android device, as well as some best practices when doing so. Just remember that when dealing with larger companies, you'll often have to wait until the condition of your Android device is confirmed before you get paid.

Carrier trade-in

AT&T store

You can skip the whole rigamarole of finding a buyer by going right to your carrier. Often they'll have a trade-in program whereby you earn credit towards your next handset purchase by handing over your old one. In fact, some plans, like Verizon's Edge program, are predicated on this trade-in notion, but the return for you as a seller is rarely significant (even though it's quite convenient). This can also mean you've got to sign up for another contract with your existing carrier. If you know you're going to be sticking the same service provider for the foreseeable future, this could be a viable choice.

Amazon trade-in

Amazon offers its own trade-in service for just about every type of electronic doodad, including Android devices. Amazon will pay for shipping, but you'll get paid with an Amazon gift card rather than cold hard cash. Of course Amazon has plenty of handsets you can buy, but if you've got a new device from another source already, and are just looking to get some cash from a spare device, Amazon has just about everything you might want to buy, and it's very convenient.

eBay

eBay for Android

eBay is a hugely popular way to sell anything online. A rating system vets for buyers and sellers and transactions can be kept secure through PayPal. Of course, you'll have to deal with a few extra fees and the hassle of shipping, but your device is bound to be seen through a much wider audience here than anywhere else. There are a few things to keep in mind before popping up your listing here.

  • Only ship to the confirmed PayPal address, if that's how you're getting paid. This ensures you keep PayPal Seller Protection.
  • It's really important to price competitively, especially if you're using the Buy it Now option. It's very easy to check other sales of the same item and see how much they've sold for. With a larger seller pool, it's easy for buyers to find cheaper alternatives.
  • Being honest about the condition of your Android device is more important than ever when selling on eBay. Shipping an item in the condition it wasn't described as can earn you a poor review, and potentially lead to the buyer getting their money back.
  • Use important keywords in the title and description to ensure it gets discovered. That means full market name, model number, carrier branding, memory denomination, and a mention of accessories included.
  • Mention shipping details in your description. Usually the faster the shipping the better, even if it bumps up the cost of the device, and insurance isn't a bad idea. Communicate regularly with your eventual buyer about the shipping status of the device.
  • Avoid low-feedback buyers. Odds are it's for a reason, and you can often drill down into their feedback profile to see any previous altercations a buyer has had on eBay.

Craigslist

Craigslist for Android

Craigslist will help you find a local buyer for your Android device. Obviously they'll want to check out the condition of your phone in person before agreeing to make the plunge, but meeting someone face to face can avoid the hassle of shipping. Some sellers might not be comfortable meeting up with strangers to sell their stuff, but it's fairly common occurrence, and so long as you follow some simple guidelines, everything should go smoothly.

  • Don't post your home address in the public Craigslist ad. Duh.
  • Price competitively by monitoring how much similar devices are selling. Obviously you'll have a hard time moving yours if it's put up right next to the same device for a cheaper price.
  • If interested buyers want to call on the phone, consider using a Google Voice, SkypeOut, or other temporary phone number to maintain some of your privacy.
  • When you've sealed the deal, meet up with the buyer in a public place during the daytime. Though most buyers are going to be perfectly normal and friendly, but better safe than sorry. n
  • Shipping internationally or getting offers that are astronomically higher than your asking price are typically signs of a scam. Hold off for a legit offer.

Swappa

Swappa is a dedicated mobile device marketplace with strong quality assurance on device sold. Buyers pay a $10 fee in the U.S., but what they're buying is inspected and vouched for by Swappa. They even do a check to make sure there isn't an outstanding balance on the device. Prices are decent, too; the Verizon Galaxy S4 is currently going for an average of $316.

Friends and family

People you already know may actually be in the market for a new device, and be willing to pay up for it. Assuming you're on good terms with a buyer you already know, you can count on getting a good price, plus it's convenient being able to hand off the phone to someone you might already see regularly anyway. You'll also feel good with the knowledge that a friend or family member is getting some use out of your old handset.

Get more help selling your Android device

We have a whole forum dedicated to wheeling and dealing in used devices, so be sure to check in there for any of our community members that are interested in buying. You can also check out our general help forums if you've got questions about how to go about selling your Android device