Even though we spend hundreds (or, eventually, thousands) of dollars on smartphones, we inevitably replace them two to four years later.
When carrier subsidy models were the norm, tossing that old device in a drawer wasn’t such a big deal. But now, you’re letting hundreds of dollars collect dust. It only makes sense to turn that old phone into value toward your new one.
That leads to a critical question, though. Should you trade your phone in with the carrier or sell it yourself?
It may feel like it doesn’t matter either way. However, the only real option is the trade-in path. Here’s why.
Risk and (Lack of) Reward for Selling Devices Yourself
There are plenty of marketplaces where you can sell your old mobile devices from peer to peer. When you look around at places like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay, the sale prices of devices similar to yours can be tempting.
Especially if you’re not in a rush to sell, you could potentially sell a device for more than its market value.
But that’s not the whole story. Selling devices yourself has two main disadvantages:
- No Guarantees: Compared to trade-in programs, selling devices on your own is much more time consuming. Even if you’re patient, there are so many competing entries in these peer-to-peer marketplaces that it can be difficult to pull in the high value you’re hoping for. You could spend weeks trying to sell the device only to settle for a low value in the end.
- Security Risks: There are plenty of horror stories about people who meet up for peer-to-peer sales in person. But even if you have an “it’ll never happen to me” mindset or you’re shipping the device elsewhere, there are security risks. Most notably, it’s been proven time and time again that factory resets don’t actually clear all of your on-device data. With the right tools, your device’s new owner could pull sensitive data and possibly steal your identity.
These two disadvantages (the security issues, especially) make the risk far greater than any rewards when selling devices yourself. Squeezing an extra few dollars out of that old device in the short-term isn’t worth the potential long-term damages.
For these reasons, we think trade-in programs are the clear best option for consumers looking to gain value from old devices before an upgrade.
The Advantages of Trading Your Old Devices
Speed is definitely an advantage for trade-in programs when compared to selling devices on your own. You can walk into a carrier store and immediately get the value of your old device applied to the balance on an upgrade. Thanks to advances in in-store trade-in technology, this experience is smoother than ever.
And, don’t think your phone has to be in pristine condition to trade it in. You may still be able to get money back even with a cracked screen which would be highly unlikely to be able to be sold through other marketplaces.
Convenience aside, the most critical advantage of trading in your devices is security. While a factory reset is all you have when selling devices yourself, trade-in programs leverage data wipe solutions like ours.
Our data wipe solution re-flashes smartphone software, which essentially overwrites your device’s operating system to the most up-to-date version. As opposed to factory resets which only purge on-device data, re-flashing both purges and overwrites all directories and sub-directories of the device with the latest software. Even for iOS (which is generally thought to have a more effective factory reset), this is a critical step in ensuring data protection as you send your device to the secondary market.
This entire security comparison between selling devices yourself and trading them in assumes that consumers remember to execute a factory reset before the upgrade. All too often, the factory reset never even happens, which means selling the device yourself just hands over a significant amount of personal information to the new owner.
If you want to find the perfect balance of device value, speed, and security, trade-in programs are your best approach.
Want to learn more about the money you can get back from trade-in programs? Check out our infographic of Q2 2018 Mobile Trade-In Data.