Consumers hoard $13 billion in older Apple iPhones

“More Americans are hoarding their old iPhones in the sock drawer, new research shows, despite each gadget being potentially worth several hundred dollars,” Quentin Fottrell reports for MarketWatch. “”

“Almost 50% of people say they store old phones in a box, drawer or cupboard at home, according to a new survey carried out in January and released Wednesday, down from the 55% who were asked the same question a year earlie,” Fottrell reports. “The trade-in value of all those old gadgets: $47 billion based on the total number of smartphone owners in the country, up from $34 billion a year ago, according to the annual ‘Mobile Mountain Study’ conducted by research group OnePoll for resale site , which obviously has a vested interest in tapping into this possible gold mine.”

“In fact, consumers are sitting on $13.4 billion in old iPhones versus an estimated $9 billion this time last year, the survey found. Apple sold a record 51 million iPhones in the most recent quarter, the company announced last month,” Fottrell reports. “Of those who haven’t sold or traded in their old phones, 20% say they gave them away to a family member, friend or partner, 12% say they gave them to a charity, and 9% say they threw them in the trash, the survey found.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
How Apple’s iPhone ‘Reuse and Recycle’ trade-in program works – August 27, 2013
Apple to launch iPhone trade-in program in retail stores as soon as next month, sources say – August 26, 2013
Selling your old iPhone? Do it now – August 22, 2013
Cook’s plan: Grab iPhone sales share from resellers – July 5, 2013


  1. Maybe so but I use my 3G as an iPod. If you asked me where it is on any given day, I might say “it’s in a drawer”. When I’m taking a road trip it would be in my car. 🙂

    I’ve repurposed by 4s to a relative.

    1. Ditto, plus it’s handy to have on hand in case one of the kids loses/breaks their iPhone.

      Not to mention, the trade-in value for an iPhone 3GS is $0 (Gazelle won’t even take it). I don’t know too many people who buy a new iPhone every year; most wait until their contract is up to upgrade. By then a 2 year old iPhone is only worth $90 or so. It’s much more valuable to keep as an iPod touch.

      1. I’m not sure where you’re getting your resale value, but you are undervaluing those old iPhones far too much.

        Currently, 8GB 3GS in excellent condition can easily fetch $70; 8GB iPhone 4 gets between $130 and $160. 16GB 4S can be sold for well over $200, if nice and clean.

        iPhones are obviously NOT like other cellphones out there. They hold a lot of value for quite a long time. Keeping it in a drawer is not the most effective way of dealing with an old iPhone.

        1. Where are you getting those prices? I just upgraded my iPhone and tried to sell my old 8GB iPhone 4 on Gazelle. They would only give $55 if it was in pristine condition. No where near the $130-$160 you are quoting.

          1. eBay is more work, but you’ll get a lot more than sites like Gazelle, especially if you have something extra like near-mint condition or are able to get your carrier to unlock it. They should be willing to unlock it if you’ve upgraded to a new phone with them. Gazelle is actually a great service if you want to save the time and energy posting something on eBay and then doing your own shipping (Gazelle sends you a box). And, with Gazelle, they don’t want the headphones or charging cables or anything else, so you can keep them as extras.

            So, if you’re trying to really get the most you can, go with eBay. If you’re looking for convenience and still a decent deal, go with

            Disclaimer: Not involved Gazelle, I’m just a happy customer. 🙂

          2. Gazelle is really mostly for those people who would otherwise just leave their old iPhone in the drawer; they take a good chunk of the profit from the resale of your phone.

            A quick search on eBay revealed much better prices for those who don’t mind spending a few minutes creating a listing and eventually shipping that phone out.

  2. I started selling my iPhones three years ago. I don’t have any sitting around, not a square to spare.

    As soon as I get my new phone, my old one goes to market. I prefer to sell to friends, who actually like buying from me, because I offer free support. Not to mention, the price is lower than used retail and higher than trade-in. It’s a win-win.

  3. I have kept every past model I’ve owned. A little piece of history that don’t take up too much space. And as rp notes, they are still useful for many things, even if their days as a phone are over. Besides, I think calling a large universe of individuals each holding on to an old iPhone is a stretch of the term “hoarding”.

    1. They like to use the term “hoarding” because it gives the impression that most iPhone owners have deep-rooted psychological problems such as feelings of insecurity and neglect. An iPhone fills their unfulfilled lives and they can’t let them go much like like Linus’ blue blanket. Great headline for clicks.

      1. Very astute observation. The press like to think they have our number anyway. Let them keep on thinking that. We’ll continue to make our own considered decisions, thank you very much, whilst thumbing our noses at them. Do they even operate as independent human beings, or are they projecting their own insecurities on a faceless audience? It works both ways.

  4. We give our old iPhones to our kids (although I bought my son a new 5c 16GB because his sister broke his 4S). By the time they’re done with them, the iPhone has no sale value.

  5. I still have my 1st gen and 3G iPhones probably more for sentimental reasons. After that I viewed them much more mercenary and have sold subsequent models as I will sell my iPhone 5 this year to get an iPhone 6. I usually upgrade on none S or C years on more major new number updates. My wife still uses my iPad 1 and I have an iPad 3, all still very useful. I’d like to upgrade iPads again but I always can’t resist buying the top of the line fully equipped which isn’t a purchase to take lightly.

  6. Since I upgrade to the newest top-of-the-line iPhone the moment it gets released, I’ve always sold my previous model. Used to use eBay, but have gone with Gazelle for the last few upgrades since there’s far less hassle.

    When I’m in the mood to be Apple-nostalgic, I pull out my still working Newtons.

  7. I was hoping to read about some consumers whose homes or apartments were piled ceiling-high full of iPhones. Aw, damn. No such luck. I got a small draw full of nickels and pennies because I’m too lazy to take them to the bank. I confess… I am a borderline hoarder.

  8. My 3G is waiting to be unlocked before I give it to a mate, to replace the SE K750i I gave home years ago, which he’s still using.
    My 4 is still in daily use as an iPod, and I use Shazam a lot to tag new music I hear on BBC 6Music. When I upgrade the 5, I’ll probably sell that and keep the 4, I like the size and heft of it, it’s nice and solid. It’ll get a new home button and battery soon as well.

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