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How to Get Rid of Your Smartphone

Nearly $47 billion in trade-in value for old smartphones is going to waste in the U.S., according to a study from, and nearly $13 billion of that is in old iPhones. If you have such dusty drawers filled with old smartphones, don't let it go to waste.  You can sell your old phone to earn some extra cash. Or you might prefer to donate it to charity or to a friend or child. Just make sure you follow our instructions on wiping your old smartphone before it’s delivered to its next owner, so your personal info will stay safe.

Clean It

Wiping and restoring most smartphones is simple, but be sure to back up any information you want to save before doing anything.

To wipe your Android smartphone’s personal data and restore the device to factory settings:

  1. Tap Settings within your phone’s main menu and then tap “SD Card and Phone Storage.”
  2. Unmount and format your microSD Card.
  3. Go into the main menu and tap Privacy.
  4. Tap Factory Data Reset.

Restoring your iPhone to factory settings is even easier:

  1. Enter the Settings menu and tap General.
  2. Tap Reset, then tap “Erase All Content and Settings.”

 If you purchased a Windows Phone and already decided its Live Tile interface isn’t for you, here’s how to wipe the device:

  1. Slide left on the Start screen.
  2. Tap Settings and then enter the About menu.
  3. Tap Reset Your Phone.

MORE: 12 Surprising Things Your Android Phone Can Do

Sell It

Once you’ve wiped your smartphone of all your personal data, decide whether you want to sell or donate it. iPhones typically retain more value than Android smartphones (it’s still too soon to tell with Windows Phones), and some buy-back sites will give you as much or nearly as much as the price of the latest version iPhone for your old Apple smartphone. It’s worth noting that trade-in programs with such sites as Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack only offer store credit, while eBay offers payment through PayPal. Online trade-in programs through such sites as BuyBackWorld, BuyMyTronics, Gazelle and NextWorth will give you cash.

For example, on Gazelle, a 16GB AT&T iPhone 5 in good condition went for $185 as of press time, and the same model fetched $131 and $210 at NextWorth and BuyMyTronics, respectively. Through Apple’s Recycling Program, you can get a gift card for $225 for your iPhone 5.

An Android smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II on Verizon, warranted $120 from Gazelle, but $151 and $157 from BuyBackWorld and BuyMyTronics. However, NextWorth will only net you $97. Keep in mind that your phone can’t have any water damage or a cracked casing or display, and must be in generally good condition.

MORE: iPhone 6 Rumors: Inside Apple’s Next Big Thing

Donate It

If your old cell isn’t going to get you a lot of money or you just would rather give your phone to someone in need, consider donating. Cell Phones for Soldiers gets money for every phone recycled, which provides a free hour of talk time so soldiers can contact their loved ones. Secure the Call collects old phones for abused women and senior citizens living alone, and Phones 4 Charity works with such programs as the American Red Cross.

Plus, individual carriers offer trade-in, donation or buy-back programs that allow you to cash in your old smartphone or tablet or just recycle them. Sprint’s Buyback Program gives up to $300 in account credit, while AT&T’s, T-Mobile’s and Verizon Wireless’s trade-in programs let you appraise your device and receive a gift card.

Verizon Wireless, through its HopeLine service, donates cellphones no longer in use to domestic violence victims and survivors, or, if it’s beyond use, will dispose of the phone in an environmentally sound way.