For Sale! Your Old Phone

twitter-logo Nidhi Singal        Print Edition: August 2012

Blame it on peer pressure or call it the flamboyance of a burgeoning middle-class, the truth is that as many as 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're smart and sell your old phone to help 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 have changed-it is most definitively a buyers' market.

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

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 second-hand phones ask for touch phones. Android-based phones are very popular and we receive a lot of queries for them as well."

Selling your old phoneBut what if you want to sell that Indian mobile brand you are tired of using? Says Mohit Wadhwa, owner, Mobi Phone Network, Delhi: "The resale value of brands such as 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 was consistent with what the dealers told us. We tried selling some old Micromax and Lemon phones with QWERTY keypad and Wi-Fi. While most shopkeepers refused to buy at the mention of the brands, some asked for the specifics. "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. (Of course, 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 negotiate the price to Rs 1,000 per device.

But be warned, if your phones have scratches on them or the original packaging and accessories are missing, they are no more than debris to be added to the e-waste heap.

The landscape of the ever-thriving used mobile handset market has changed drastically. It was relatively simple to sell an old handset a few years ago. A popular Nokia model used to fetch roughly 60 per cent of its market price while 'lesser brands' sold at 40 per cent of the price you paid for it.

This doesn't work any longer as now, instead of brands, it is the operating system and the actual model that determine the value on 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. And 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.

Selling your old phoneNokia has taken the severest beating in the resale mart. From being the in-demand brand less than a decade ago, it is now the least favoured among buyers. A Nokia phone running on a Symbian platform will only get you about 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 price estimated for a Nokia E7 (without any marks on the body and screen and in condition), which exited the market at Rs 19,500, was only between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000. The Nokia N8, a slightly more popular phone, could be sold for only about 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 (RIM) 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 a decent offer considering the new BlackBerry Bold 9900, which retails at Rs 32,000, has a resale value of a mere Rs 12,000.

Selling your old phoneManish, owner of Mahesh Telecom in Mumbai, says, "Those who are buying second hand cell phones seem to be looking for more features at a low price. They even ask for best selling models such as Samsung Galaxy SII or Apple iPhone 4/4S."

Always have all related documents as well, such as the original bill. "Shopkeepers avoid buying a phone without the original bill as it can be a stolen one," says Manish.

By now you must have a fair idea that getting a good price for your old phone is not the easiest thing. You will have to work more than just a bit to get a good deal.

If you have realised that you are better off selling your old phones before they get discontinued, here are also a few tips for you.


You have to either register on a website, such as, or, or simply post the ad with a valid email id and the relevant details. 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 and the price expected.

However, posting an ad online does not necessarily mean you will get buyers. Even if you get one, there is more to be dealt with. The biggest concern is a buyer who demands to look at the phone before finalising the deal.

Some buyers might demand you ship the product first. There is a risk you will not get the money. So, follow the instructions provided by the site, use a secure channel for payment and be cautious about offers that seem too good to be true.

A new medium to sell your smartphone is to use your social network, such as Twitter or Facebook, to post a personal ad. The post is visible to your friends on the network and they can retweet or share it to get to more prospective buyers.

While it seems an easy way to sell, there is again no certainty. Also, some of your friends might be aware of the way you use the phone. If you are known to handle your set with care, you are likely to get a buyer in a friend or among friends' friends. Twitter can even find you a buyer in an unknown follower.

But be sure to mention the location of the phone. As in online transactions, you might be required to show the handset before peddling it and payment hassles across states can also be avoided that way.

Retailers can be any type-a company store, an organised retail chain or a local retailer. While the company-owned store and organised retail channel is likely to put forward an exchange offer, local retail stores will pay cash.

When we tried to sell popular smartphones to an organised chain, the price quoted was much less than what most local retailers offered. Also, there was a notable difference between stand-alone shop offers in comparison with prices at mobile hubs like Gaffar Market.

Local retailers also mean more room for negotiation.


>> Always clean the phone before taking it to the retailer. If possible 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 such as data cable, headsets, charger, memory card, are very important. In case you have additional accessories you have no use for, include these too.
>> Have an idea of how much your phone costs before trying to hawk it. Your market knowledge can help you get more.
>> Some shopkeepers will buy a phone of a known brand to cannibalise the components. If you're not in love with your device, go for it.
>> The condition of the handset, obviously, is most important. If the phone looks new, you are likely to get more money.
>> Take your phone to a couple of stores first. You will get an idea of the phone's worth.
>> Carry an ID proof at the time of selling a phone, to match with the bill.

Courtesy: Gadgets & Gizmos

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