What to Do With Your Old iPhone After an iPhone Upgrade

Sell it, recycle it, repurpose it, or pass it along

New iPhones are released every year. If you stay on the cutting edge, you're likely upgrading your old iPhone long before it has lived out its useful life. Now that carriers aren't into subsidizing iPhones as they once were, prices have skyrocketed. At most carriers and at the Apple Store, you can get a hefty trade-in deal on your old iPhone. If you aren't into trading it in or keeping it as a backup, there are plenty of other things you can do with your old iPhone when you upgrade to the shiny new version.

New iPhone set up
/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Pass It On

Pass on your old iPhone to a friend or family member. If your old phone has a SIM, remove it before you give the iPhone away. As long as the recipient chooses a compatible carrier, he can take in the iPhone, and the carrier will help him get it set up on the network. If your old iPhone is a GSM phone, compatible carriers are AT&T and T-Mobile. If the iPhone is a CDMA phone, Sprint and Verizon are compatible carriers. How do you tell the difference? GSM iPhones have SIMs; CDMA iPhones don't.

Turn It Into an iPod Touch

An iPhone with no cellular service is essentially an iPod touch. Remove your SIM card if the iPhone has one, and you have a media player, contact and calendar device, and a Wi-Fi connection. The iPhone uses Wi-Fi to connect to the App Store and do everything an iPod touch can do. Slap on some earbuds and go jogging to your favorite tunes.

If you want to hand off the iPod touch to a friend or family member, the lucky recipient needs a free Apple ID to make it work. With an Apple ID, he can access the App Store for free and paid apps and download previously purchased apps and music to his new iPod touch. 

Turn It Into a Security Camera

If your iPhone is an iPhone 5 or newer, you can turn it into a security camera. You'll need to download an app for that, but then you'll have live streaming, motion alerts and cloud recording at your fingertips. If you want to save and view security footage, you'll need a storage plan, and the apps are happy to sell you one. The Presence app, Manything app, and AtHome Camera app are three apps that can turn your old iPhone into a security camera.

Use It as an Apple TV Remote Control

If you are one of the people who can't stand the remote control that comes with the Apple TV, just download the Apple TV Remote app to your old iPhone and, presto, you have a new remote. With a recent Apple TV, you can use Siri on the iPhone to control it. With older Apple TV versions, you use the keyboard to search for shows, which is still a huge improvement over the supplied remote's search function.

Recycle It

You can drop any Apple device off at the Apple Store for recycling. If you don't live near an Apple Store, you can use Apple GiveBack online and Apple will send you a prepaid mailing label and you can mail it in. Apple promises to responsibly recycle all the materials in your phone.

Now if you could just recycle your old iPhone and get some money too. Wait, you can. If your iPhone is an iPhone 4s or newer, Apple will give you an Apple gift card and recycle qualifying phones. You'll need to go to Apple's recycling website and answer some questions about your model, its capacity, its color, and condition. Then Apple tells you what its worth.

Sell It

The internet has a thriving market for previously owned iPhones. Just search for iPhone resellers and see what pops up. If you set your price reasonably, it’s likely that you’ll be able to sell the phone without much trouble. When looking for places to sell the iPhone, consider old standbys like eBay and Craigslist. For those stores, be sure to take advantage of other people’s knowledge and tips to get the best price and smoothest transaction. 

Try Amazon's trade-in service to get an estimate of your old iPhone's worth. Send in the phone and Amazon gives you Amazon credit for the agreed-upon amount -- no hassle. You may want to consider some smaller online stores where there may be less competition. In that case, seek out a cell phone or Mac-specific online resale opportunities.

Whatever path you take, remember to delete your personal data from the iPhone before handing it over.

For a more in-depth look at selling an old iPhone (or other Apple device), check out How to Prepare Your iPhone For Sale.

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