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How to Get the Most From an Old iPhone


As anticipated by industry analysts, tech pundits and the public alike, Apple announced new iPhones at its "Hey, Siri" event, in San Francisco, on Wednesday 9th September 2015.

Since its introduction, in 2007, the iPhone as disrupted the mobile phone industry and has defined what a smartphone should be. Since the iPhone revolution, Apple has continued to evolve iPhone at a remarkable pace.

In this tutorial, I'll explain the options for an old iPhone when you choose to upgrade to an iPhone 6 or 6S.

Emperor's New Clothes

iPhone 6S the latest iPhone from Apple
iPhone 6S, the latest iPhone from Apple

Putting aside, for a moment, the angst between Apple detractors and enthusiasts, if you currently own an iPhone and are considering whether to upgrade, first ask yourself why you want or need to upgrade. 

Or, indeed, how often you need to upgrade. 

Toxic Shock

iFixit campaigns to repair and recycle old electronics iPhone included
iFixit campaigns to repair and recycle old electronics, iPhone included

According to iFixit, "E-waste is the Toxic Legacy of our Digital Age: Our waste electronics are polluting drinking water and harming ecosystems around the world. It’s time to fix the problem." 

Apple makes a big noise about its environmental credentials and, if you are in anyway interested in our planet, there are things that you can do. 

Perhaps society's rampant consumerism is a bad thing in the long term.

Consider these facts from iFixit:

  • 18 months: the length of time that an average American keeps a mobile phone
  • 1.6 billion mobile phones were manufactured in 2012. World population was around 7.05 billion in the same year
  • Electronics are packed with toxic chemicals—arsenic, lead, and poly-brominated flame retardants
  • 60% wasted: most e-waste ends up in landfills—both at home and in the developing world—where toxic metals leach into the environment
  • 30% lost: Even when recycled, a significant amount of electronic material cannot be recovered

Whilst the statistics from iFixit do not relate solely to Apple iPhone, or Apple products, they do give an alarming sense of global society's wasteful nature. 

Whatever you decide to do, that's a matter for you. If your old iPhone still works, here are some options for preventing it from ending up in landfill before the end of its useful life. 

Recycle the iPhone

Probably the easiest option for most and ideal if you are not seeking any monetary compensation from an old iPhone. 

Family Member

Giving an old iPhone to a family member is a great way to get the most out of it
Giving an old iPhone to a family member is a great way to get the most out of it

A great way to introduce, or upgrade, a family member to a new (to them) Apple iPhone. 

For example, in my family, my old iPhone tends to be wiped, reconfigured and given to my wife. This means that she has a relatively up-to-date phone that I have kept in perfect condition with a screen-protector, Speck CandyShell case and box with original accessories.

Her iPhone then gets trickled down to one of her parents, or parents-in-law, thereby giving them the ability to keep in touch via email, iMessage, take photos and so on. 

Perhaps one of your children is growing up and looking for their first phone. An old(er) iPhone could be a candidate device for them. 


Giving an old iPhone to a friend is a great way to get the most out of it
Giving an old iPhone to a friend is a great way to get the most out of it

Best friend ever. That's what you could be if you are generous and want to help one of your friends. Perhaps they have an old iPhone or, perhaps, no iPhone at all.

It's a nice gesture and, whether you give or sell an old iPhone to a friend, you'll be ensuring that the device is used rather than languishing in a drawer or ending up in landfill. 

Sell the iPhone

Selling an old iPhone could be a good bet if you want to help finance the latest model. How much you'll get will depend upon a number of factors such as the model you have, how much memory it has, the condition and where you sell it. 

Research the Market Value

How to find out how much an old iPhone is really worth
How to find out how much an old iPhone is really worth

Doing some research first will help you get the most from selling a used iPhone. 

A good tool for this is bidvoy. Bidvoy searches recent auctions, on eBay, to help determine the market rate for a device.

Whilst Bidvoy analyses prices on eBay, there is no obligation on you to sell there. It's useful just to gauge market value. 

Here are the links for Austria, Germany, United Kingdom and United States:


eBay is one marketplace to sell an old iPhone
eBay is one marketplace to sell an old iPhone

Perhaps the first thing that springs to mind, for most, when it comes to selling secondhand items. You'll need a PayPal account and you'll need to sign up to eBay if you have not already done so.

It'll require a bit of time on your part, too. High quality photographs on a white or plain background, well lit and focussed, along with an accurate an honest description will appeal more to prospective buyers. 

Be prepared to spend some time crafting an auction listing in order to maximise the return. Bear in mind, also, that eBay typically takes 10% in fees. PayPal takes around 4.5%, so you'll be looking at a fair chunk of the selling price as fees, thus reducing any return.


A local way of selling an old iPhone
A local way of selling an old iPhone

Gumtree is a free marketplace geared for selling items locally. There are paid options for promoting an advert but, if you prefer, it's free to use.

Again, good quality photography and an honest and comprehensive description will stand your advert head and shoulders above the other advertisers.

Use Bidvoy to determine the market value and advertise on Gumtree. Conduct all transactions face-to-face and only deal in cash.  Take a friend with you when you by or sell for additional peace of mind. 


Craiglists more popular in the USA than the UK
Craiglists, more popular in the USA than the UK

A more popular choice in the USA, than UK, Craigslist is a long-established website, set up in San Francisco in 1995, for classified ads.

Trade-in an iPhone

If you do not have the time or the inclination to sell the old iPhone, don't wish to just give it away and just want some cash for it, your option is probably to look at a trade-in service.

Apple Store Credit

Apple runs a buy-back scheme for old kit iPhone included
Apple runs a buy-back scheme for old kit, iPhone included

Apple's Reuse and Recycling Program has been established for a number of years to recycle old Apple equipment. In recent times, the program has been extended to include mobile devices.

Apple will give you credit, in the form of iTunes vouchers, for an old iPhone. This can be done either at an Apple retail store or online. 

  • Apple's instant credit—UK
  • Apple's instant credit—USA

Apple Reuse and Recycling Program

Sell an old iPhone back to Apple
Sell an old iPhone back to Apple

Even if the old iPhone no longer has any value (to Apple) you can recycle the device responsibly through Apple at no cost.

Phone Buyers

Mobile phone trade-in comparison site
Mobile phone trade-in comparison site

There are a number of companies that specialise in purchasing and recycling old devices, iPhones included.

It takes some time finding them all and then entering details, into different websites, over and over again.

Smart iPhone recyclers use comparison websites such as mobilevaluer.com that can give you a quick comparison as to how much you could receive for an old iPhone.

Put an Old iPhone to an Alternative Use

Security Camera

Employing an old iPhone as a security camera
Employing an old iPhone as a security camera

If you've ever thought of having a camera to protect your property from burglary, it might just be that an old iPhone is a more cost effective solution than a dedicated IP-camera.

Check the iOS App Store for apps, such as manything, that turn an iPhone into a security camera.

Manything is able to back up recordings to the cloud, can view, stream, take still images and even be triggered by clever motion detection.  Other apps are available, have a look for the one that best suits your requirements.

Baby Monitor

A similar idea to a security camera, an old iPhone can be employed as a baby monitor. 

Search the app store for a suitable app, such as Cloud Baby Monitor. Baby monitor apps can provide the transmission of audio and video and play a selection of soothing white noise which, apparently, helps to soothe baby.

Again, employing an old iPhone as a baby monitor could prove to me more cost-effective than purchasing a dedicated device for the task.

Vehicle GPS Tracker

Using an old iPhone as a vehicle GPS tracker
Using an old iPhone as a vehicle GPS tracker

GPS tracking systems for automotive use can cost hundreds of pounds in both installation and subscription fees.

The ability to track the location of a vehicle is possible with an old iPhone. Take things a step further by installing a discreet 12V power socket to a switched feed and connect the hidden iPhone. 

Remember to buy a cheap SIM-only phone and data plan for the old iPhone.

Installing Apple's Find My Friends application, or third-party GPS-tracking software will allow you to locate the vehicle if it is stolen.

Even if the vehicle is stopped, the iPhone should retain enough charge to continue to update its current location for another 18-24 hours or more.


Repairing an old iPhone can be rewarding and makes environmental sense
Repairing an old iPhone can be rewarding and makes environmental sense

The old iPhone may be past its best, it needs a new back, screen or the home button is a bit flakey, for instance. Or maybe you need to replace the battery. 

Either way, iFixit's fantastic online iPhone repair manual is the place to go to find out how to conduct a repair on an old iPhone.

Repairing the old iPhone will give it a new lease of life rather than consigning it to landfill.


In this tutorial, I've shown you a number of ways to find out the true value of an old iPhone and help you decide what to next do with it.

Whether you want to realise some hard cash to help finance a new iPhone 6S, or just prevent it ending up in the bin, I've shown you what to consider when upgrading.

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