For sale! Your old phone

twitter-logo Nidhi Singal        Print Edition: July 2012

Blame it on peer pressure or call it flamboyance, but the truth is that over 100 million users in India give in to the temptation of buying a new smart mobile handset every year. If you are not afraid of burning a hole in your pocket every time a new smart phone hits the market, chances are either you own more than five handsets or you sell your old phone to fund the new purchase.

The bitter question, however, isn't how much you are willing to sell your phone for, but how much the shopkeeper is willing to pay you for your old device? The dynamics change-it is a buyers' market.

If you are new to hawking your old handsets, be prepared to be shocked. The resale market is all grim for the customers. We uncover the harsh truths of the understated second-hand phone market and share a few tips on how to know your phone's worth.

Here's a quick lowdown on what the approximate resale prices of the models listed below are. Remember, these are only indicative prices in Delhi and Mumbai at the time of the research. The current market price determines the resale price. Also, it is likely that the demand and supply in tier 2 and 3 cities can be different-again a factor in final resale price.

APPLE IPHONE 4: Rs 20,000-  Rs 22,000
APPLE IPHONE 4S: Rs 27,000 - Rs 31,000
SAMSUNG GALAXY SII: Rs 18,000 - Rs 22,000
SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE: Rs 20,000 - Rs 23,000
BLACKBERRY 9900: Rs 12,000 - Rs 14,000
BLACKBERRY 8520: Rs 2,500 -Rs 3,500
NOKIA E7 : Rs 7,000 -Rs 9,000
NOKIA N8: Rs 6,500- Rs 8,000
NOKIA LUMIA: Rs 10,000 - Rs 12,000
HTC ONE X: Rs 15,000 - Rs 18,000
Capacitive touchscreens, Android operating system, applications, good cameras-these are in great demand in the resale space. Honey Singh, a small dealer in used phones at the bustling Gaffar Market in New Delhi, reveals: "The QWERTY keypad is not in demand anymore. Those buying secondhand phones ask for touch phones. Android-based phones are very popular and we receive a lot of queries for them as well."

But what if you want to sell that Indian mobile brand you are tired of using? Says Mohit Wadhwa, owner, Mobi Phone Network Pvt Ltd, Delhi: "The resale value of brands like Lava and Karbonn is not very high in big cities. These phones are comparatively cheaper and have a shorter lifecycle. But they still have a huge demand in the suburbs and smaller towns and villages."

Our experience proved their words. We tried selling some old Micromax and Lemon phones with QWERTY keypad and Wi-Fi. While most of the shopkeepers refused at the mention of the brands, some asked, "Is it the Micromax Bling 2? Is your Lemon phone Android based?" Phone sellers at Gaffar Market, one of India's largest resale markets for mobile phones, were mostly circumspect about these phones. "We don't deal in such small or Chinese brands. If you have a Nokia or a Samsung, show us," said one.

In the end, we managed to find someone who evaluated the cost of these phones at Rs 800 apiece. (The actual retail price of the two handsets was around Rs 5,000 each). Because the phones looked brand new and worked perfectly, we were able to raise the price to Rs 1,000 per device.

But be warned, if phones have scratches on them or the original packaging and accessories are missing, they are just more debris on the e-waste heap. The landscape of the ever thriving used mobile handset market has changed drastically. Remember when selling an old phone was simple? A popular Nokia model used to fetch roughly 60 per cent of its market price while the 'lesser brands' resold at 40 per cent fo the original tag.

This doesn't work any longer as now instead of brands, it is the operating system and the actual model that rule the resale market. Among all the popular platforms, it is Android and iOS that are in great demand in the second-hand market. But again, this is restricted to certain phones only. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy SII and Galaxy Note have good resale value. Adn then one can happily negotiate over an old Apple iPhone 4S or iPhone 4. But try selling your HTC Incredible S, Evo 3D or Sony Ericsson Arc S or even the Xperia Arc and the amount offered will be way less than what you had planned for.

Nokia has taken a severe beating in this the resale mart. From being the in-demand brand, it is now the least favoured among buyers. A Nokia phone running on a Symbian platform will only get you 30 per cent of the current market price. In case of a discontinued phone, this is 30 per cent of the last selling price before the model was discontinued. The value evaluated for the Nokia E7 (without any scratches on the body and screen) which exited the market at `19,500 was only between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000. The Nokia N8, a slightly popular phone, can be sold for Rs 8,000.

The situation isn't any different for the newly launched Windows Phone from Nokia or other brands. In this case, expect 50 per cent of the current price, even if the phone is just 10 days or a month old. The cost is further reduced if the body has scratches.

Research In Motion's BlackBerry is not popular either. While there isn't much that you can expect, only the BlackBerry 8520 can still fetch you between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,500, that too if you have the original bill and the box. This is decent considering the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 retails at Rs 32,000 and its resale value is a mere Rs 12,000.

Manish, owner of Mahesh Telecom in Mumbai, says, "Those who are buying second hand cell phones seem to be looking for more features at a lesser price. Even they ask for the best selling models such as Samsung Galaxy SII or Apple iPhone 4/4S."

By now you must have got a fair idea that getting a good price for your old phone is not a piece of cake. You will have to work a little hard to crack a good deal. If you have realised that you are better off selling your old phones lying in your cupboard before they get discontinued, here are a few tips.

The first option is to list your phone online and wait for someone to buy it (not recommended). The second, and more practical way of getting rid of your old phone, is to directly approach a buyer.

Remember that Quikr ad that keeps popping up on the TV screen? Yes, allows you to sell your phone as well. You have to either register on the website or simply post the ad with a valid email id and the relevant details to sell the handset. Ideally, an ad should include a clear image of the phone, details such as brand name, model number, purchase date, reason for selling the device, accessories offered with the phone, price that you are expecting, etc. You can also get similar services if you register with and

However, posting an ad online does not necessarily mean it will get you buyers. Even if you get one, there are many more questions to worry about. The biggest concern is what if your buyer demands to look at the phone before finalising the deal. And what if your buyer belongs to a different city? Some buyers might demand you ship them the product first. How can you be sure that you will get the money? Some buyers might even question the provenance of phone-officially purchased or a stolen device? Before listing online, just think whether you would ever buy a used phone from a website without checking the hardware. Your answer would give you a hint.

A new medium to sell your smartphone is to post it on your social network like Twitter or Facebook. The post is visible to your friends on the network and they can further retweet and share it to get to more buyers in line. While it seems an easy way to sell something, there is no certainty that you will be able to sell the device. Also, some of your friends might be aware of the way you use the phone. If handled with care, you are likely to get a buyer in a friend or among friends' friends. If posted on Twitter, an unknown follower might be interested in buying the device. But be sure to mention the location of the phone.As in online transactions, you might be required to show the handset to the interested party before peddling it and payment hassles across states can also be avoided that way.

The most common practice to get rid of the old phone is to walk to the mobile shop next door. These retailers can be anyone-the company store, organised retail chain or even a local retailer. While the company-owned store and organised retail channel is likely to put forward an exchange offer, in local retail stores you can exchange the phone for cash as well. When we tried to sell a few popular smartphones at the former, the price quoted was much less than what most of the local retailers offered. Also, there was a notable difference at one stand-alone shop in a market in comparison to the mobile hubs like Gaffar Market. Moreover, this medium is quick and effective. You can actually negotiate with the buyer about the price at which you wish to sell. If one shop refuses, you can obviously try another. But to crack a good deal, you need to keep a lot many things in mind.

  • Always clean the phone before taking it to the retailer. If possible you can also spend a few hundred rupees to get the phone serviced.
  • Carry the original bill of the phone. If you don't have one, you are likely to get less.
  • In case you have the original box, bring it along. Accessories like data cable, headsets, charger, memory card, CD, etc. are also very important. In case you have some additional accessories that you will not use it in the future, include them too. It will give you a bargaining chip with the buyer.
  • Always have a rough idea of how much your phone costs before trying to hawk it. Your attitude, market knowledge and confidence can help you get more out of the buyer.
  • Some shopkeepers also repair phones. It is likely that they will buy an entry-level and mid-segment phone of a known brand like Nokia just to cannibalise the internal components like the microphone or the screen. If you are not in love with your device, go for it.
  • The condition of the handset plays the biggest role in determining the price. If the phone looks new, you are likely to get more money. Woe to you if the body and display are scratched.
  • Always take your phone to a couple of stores before selling. This will give you an idea of the phone's actual worth in the market.
  • Carry an ID proof at the time of selling a phone. Mumbai reseller Manish says, "Many shopkeepers avoid buying a phone without the original bill as it can be a stolen device that will land us in trouble. Even from those who produce the bill, we often ask for ID proof to be on the safer side."

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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