Big Phone: Comedian Dom Joly Helps Launch Retro Nokia 3310
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, a quarter of UK households have at least one old, unused mobile phone collecting dust. But millions could be missing out on sizable profits because phones can still be good value for money — even if they’re old or broken.
Some rare models can fetch thousands of pounds as collectibles. But the more common versions are still valuable.
Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 14 went on sale on Friday, stirring excitement among new tech enthusiasts. It’s the first model that can automatically call emergency services if you’re in a car accident, and can use a satellite connection for texting when you can’t get a signal or Wi-Fi.
But there are plenty of reasons to get excited about old phones too – some can even set you back thousands of pounds.
Old Phones Worth Thousands
Cell phones are so ubiquitous that it seems hard to imagine any phone being considered a collectible. However, some of the earliest and most iconic things can now fetch big bucks.
Lynsey Chilcott from Love Antiques explained: “The oldest phones did not reach the scale of today, so a few are rare and continue to hold value as collectibles.”
She added that if you own one of these old phones, you should seek expert advice and consider selling it at auction to get the best price.
Golden oldies…as big as a brick
The first generation of phones was brick-sized, bulky and had short battery life. They no longer exist today, but are iconic and collectible.
Motorola 8000x £800 – £3,500
The originator of mobile phones. Released in 1983, it was massive and had a battery life of 30 minutes.
Senator Mobira NMT £800 – £2,000
Technically, this phone was arguably the first portable phone and went on sale in 1981.
Technophone PC105T £600 – £1,500
The Technophone of 1986 was the first cell phone designed to fit neatly into a shirt pocket. It’s listed at £1,990, which is £6,481 today. It won the Prince of Wales Award in 1988.
Dial a fortune with a Luxe phone
Over the years, phone companies have released limited-edition deluxe phones designed for posing for texting or making calls. Some are valuable today.
Vertu Signature M £50 – £20,000+
Nokia launched the Vertu Signature series in 2003. Regular Vertu phones now cost around £50, but some deluxe versions cost thousands of pounds. An 18 carat white gold model with diamonds is worth over £20,000 as long as you have the original packaging and documentation of authenticity.
Nokia Sapphire 8800 £500 – £2,000
Released in 2005, there are sports leather cases, titanium and carbon fiber versions, and even real sapphire in place of the navigation buttons. Also available in 18 karat gold plate.
Not for sale…but still in demand
Due to rarity, models that have never been listed are often the most valuable and popular. There are many knockoffs, so only buy from reputable sellers or auction houses.
Pre-production prototype iPhone 1 £10,000 +
The release of the Apple iPhone in 2007 marked a watershed moment in mobile technology. If you have the first 2G phone, it’s probably worth around £2,000 if it’s still in the box. However, prototype models can sell for tens of thousands of pounds. According to Love Antiques, prices vary widely, but online auctions have fetched £30,000.
Nokia 7700 £1,000 – £2,000
Another prototype, this model never actually sold, so phones are rare. It dates back to 2003, and if it had ever hit the shelves, it would have beaten the iPhone to be the world’s first smartphone.
Ringing a fortune: Motorola 8000x from left; diamond-encrusted Vertu worth £20,000; electronic organ; Nokia Sapphire; iPhone 1 prototype; and Nokia 7700 that never sold
cash from regular models
There are many tech resale companies that will buy old or broken phones. These include musicMagpie, We Buy Any Phone, Compare and Recycle, Mazuma and Envirofone. You may only get a few pounds, but it’s better than letting it collect dust. A Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in good condition can set you back £20, says technology resale service comparison and recycling expert Antonia Hristov. An Apple iPhone 6 in equally good condition can earn you up to £14; a Motorola Moto G4 is worth between £14 and £16, depending on internal storage; and the first-gen Google Pixel is still a whopping £20.
“The best-selling phone is the iPhone 11, which is worth a whopping £317,” Hristov said. “The oldest phones in the top 20 are the original iPhone SE and iPhone 6s, both of which are more than five years old.”
Online marketplaces eBay, Gumtree and other local Facebook or online community groups allow you to list your old phone and decide your asking price. You might get more than you get from a tech resale company, but it involves more hassle.
Before selling or transferring any old phone, be sure to delete all information from it, 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 might be valuable to others. They can be refurbished and donated to people who can’t afford their own, or their parts can be stripped and reused.
You can donate your old phone to Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal or O2’s Community Calling. Compare and Recycle, Sell My Phone, and Compare My Phone rounds up offers for dozens of services that will buy, redistribute, or recycle your old phone for you.
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