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When is the best time to sell your phone?

We're quickly approaching that time of year where smartphone manufacturers all drop their top-of-the-line flagships almost simultaneously — we're eagerly awaiting Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 announcement on August 9th, along with what we suspect is the Moto Z3 the week prior, and a number of other phones from the Pixel 3 to the LG V40.

If you're the type to buy the latest flagship as soon as it drops, you're probably going to want to sell your current phone to make some of the money back — but as anyone who's done this before knows, resale pricing fluctuates pretty drastically on phones, so when exactly is the best time to sell yours to make the most profit?

Let's start with the obvious: if you have a spare phone handy to get you by through the interim, sell your phone before its sequel comes out. As soon as Samsung announces the Note 9, the Note 8 will see a reduction in retail pricing, typically knocking off around $100. That won't necessarily translate to $100 less resale value overnight, but you can definitely expect to make less money on your Note 8 after August 9th.

If you really want to maximize your profit (and again, assuming you have a spare phone), you can even sell your phone a few months in advance — maybe right around the time the next phone's announcement date first gets teased. Resale value tends to deteriorate by a small amount each month, but the Galaxy Note 8 was still averaging at over $600 on Swappa as recently as March. That should cover a good chunk of the total cost on the Note 9, even if it starts around $1000.

Swappa charts the decline of Galaxy Note 8 resale value over the course of its first year.

Swappa charts the decline of Galaxy Note 8 resale value over the course of its first year.

If, on the other hand, you're a normal person without a backup phone and you're planning on replacing your only device, don't worry — you can still make a good chunk of cash back on your phone after its replacement arrives! Again, the closer you can get to the phone's initial release date, the better, but this is a good time to take a look around for launch promotions. Carriers are usually happy to take in your old phone in exchange for a steeply discounted financing offer, since it's an easy way to lock you into their service without much adverse effect. Just be careful; in most cases, if you cancel your service before the financing period ends, you'll wind up owing the phone's full original amount.

In short, sell your phone as early as you can get away with to ensure the best possible deal, but don't sweat it too hard if you're a few months late. You'll still make less money, but the difference is typically pretty minor, and at the end of the day you'll still be able to knock off a good amount from your next purchase.

Are you selling your phone as soon as possible to jump on one of the upcoming flagships? Are you an experienced veteran of the resale market with tips and tricks for first-timers? Let us know in the comments below!

Selling your Android phone: Everything you need to know!

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

7 Comments
  • Wrestling with this right now. My OP3T is about to the point where my devices usually start to flame out. Trying to decide whether I should pull the trigger on something new and sell while it still has value, or wait until it dies and I'm forced to get a new one.
  • The most popular component going wrong after 2 years is the battery so I would try to get rid of it before the end of this year.
    I have replaced a sealed battery on a Samsung phone and although no easy task, it definitely brought life back to it and still runs fine being 3 years old.
  • I tried that with my Note 5 but that thing is welded shut. Close to melting it with the heat gun and couldn't pry it open.
  • IMHO, don't bother selling until you have full equity in the phone. I'm still rocking the Note 5. I passed on the Note 7 (there was no 6), and still passed when the Note 8 released. My Note 5 is still up to date and performing well. The Note 9 I may just jump on depending upon the price point if it's not stupidly priced, but realistically I could probably get another 2 years out of it. I've already had this phone one month shy of 3 years and it's still running strong. This is the first smartphone that I've held onto more than 1.5 years. Battery is still good. Device running strong. And I've matured to the point that I don't need to buy the "latest and greatest" just to have it (which yes I'd done from 2007-2014). When's the best time to sell your phone? Easy answer... when it's no longer a backup in your junk drawer. Of course those devices are rarely worth selling though. Only time old phones are worth selling is when you're wasting and tossing away money on the "new gadget need" before your old devices become obsolete.  
  • No one needs to buy the latest and greatest, it is a question of « want » and « can »
  • I usually sell my device right as the pre-order of the next one opens. I get the device sold, I use a backup for a couple days, and a new one waits in the mail within a week.
  • There are lot of enormous sites which buy old smartphones at good value price. The discarded phones by these companies can be a reason for people selling old phone quite frequently on these mobile selling platforms. People can definitely sell their old phones on portals like- Instacash, Flipkart(to exchange) etc.