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What to do with old cell phones

By Mint Fox

Originally published June 22, 2023


Last Updated January 5, 2024

Mint Fox wondering what to do with old cell phones?

“Replace them” is probably the one thing almost everyone can agree on when it comes to what to do with old cell phones. We’ll assume you’ve already taken that step though, so congrats. Maybe you’ve completely switched wireless carriers and are looking to start fresh, or you just upgraded to a next gen device. Either way, you now have an old phone that you don’t know what to do with. We get it, electronics disposal can be tricky. And while breaking it in half and throwing it in a public trash can might make you feel like a cool spy or something, that option is absolutely not recommended. We’ll go over all the options you have for getting rid of an old cell phone shortly — but first, let’s make sure it’s ready to be gotten rid of.

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Mint Fox figuring out what to do before getting rid of old cell phones

What to do before getting rid of old cell phones

Your old cell phone likely has important and personal information on it, so there are a few things you’ll want to make sure you do before you say goodbye to it for good. Even after you’ve upgraded and moved your wireless account to a new device, your old phone may still have access to your emails, social accounts and personal files, so finishing with a full reset is very important. You don’t want one of the first emails you receive on your new phone to be an update about your recent identity theft.

  • Make sure you’ve successfully transferred your contacts and account info to your new phone 
  • Move your physical SIM card to your new phone, or remove it and dispose of it if you got a new SIM card
  • Save any photos, videos, audio files, etc that you want to keep elsewhere. You may be able to save them to a memory card, or you can upload them to a cloud storage option like Dropbox or Google Drive
  • Finally, give your old phone a full factory reset, wiping any important data of yours off the device
You can donate, sell, recycle or gift an old phone

Should I sell my phone? 

When trying to decide what to do with old cell phones, the first thing most people look into is selling them. We could all use some extra scratch, right? If your old phone is still in good working order, there’s likely someone out there who wouldn’t mind taking it off your hands for the right price. There are multiple sites & apps that make it easy to sell your old phone from the comfort of your new phone. Just remember to fully reset everything so you’re not also selling someone access to your banking app.

Can I donate old cell phones?

If there’s still some life in that old phone yet, consider donating it. Organizations like Medic, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Secure the Call, the Women’s Resource Center and Cell Phones for Soldiers will find a new home for that used phone. You can also check with a local shelter to see if they’d be willing to accept your donated device.

Is cell phone recycling an option?

If that old phone is a bit too old for anyone else to use, you can always recycle it. That would be good for the environment, thus making a lot of foxes (and other animals) very happy. This can be done by dropping it at any authorized electronics recycler. A quick search for “cell phone recycling near me” ought to give you a few nearby options to choose from, or you can recycle your phone with Mint Mobile by just shipping it to us and we’ll do the rest.

Can I give my old cell phone to a friend or family member?

Old phones make perfect starter phones for kids — plus it’ll make adding them to your Mint Family plan that much easier. If you have a teen in your life who won’t stop complaining about their much older phone, your used phone might be a welcome upgrade. And if you’re a Mint Mobile user, you know we believe in sharing the love. If it’s an unlocked phone you’re getting rid of, consider giving it to a friend so they can try Mint Mobile for themselves. Don’t worry, it’s not a completely selfless gesture. With our Refer a Friend program, they get a discount but you’ll get credit toward your next plan purchase, too.

How can I repurpose my old cell phone?

Not ready to say goodbye to that old phone just yet? There are several ways to repurpose it so you can hang onto it just a little while longer. The obvious option is to turn it into a really sweet belt buckle, of course. But there are some other, more practical alternatives. 

  • Make it a dedicated gaming phone. Mobile games can take up a fair amount of memory on your phone, so having a separate device to handle those apps can be very beneficial
  • Make it your dedicated music player and never have your playlist interrupted by a phone call again. Nothing worse than being in the zone on leg day and having your ringtone kill the vibe
  • Your old phone can also work as a webcam for your laptop
  • Put it in whichever pocket you don’t keep your primary phone in, for balance
  • Make a short film about a haunted cell phone starring your old phone  

Now you have a few ideas of what to do with old cell phones when it’s time to move on. And if you haven’t gotten yourself a new one yet, maybe you’re ready for an upgrade. Hint: if your phone still has a retractable antenna, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. And wouldn’t you know it, Mint Mobile has some shiny new phones to choose from when you’re ready.

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Originally published February 2022; Updated June 2023

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