U.S. Customers Are Hoarding $13.4bn Of Old iPhones

The iPhone 5 is going to be huge.

Around half of U.S. consumers are hoarding their old iPhones in cupboards and sock drawers — representing an inventory worth around $13.4 billion in total.

According to the annual “Mobile Mountain Study” conducted by research group OnePoll for resale site SellCell.com, this figure is down from the 55% of people who admitted to holding onto their old smartphones last year — although the total amount of money being left on the table is up from last year’s sum of $9 billion, thanks to the growing smartphone market.

“Americans are still unaware of the money they can make by trading in their old mobile,” says SellCell founder Keir McConomy.

Among those who haven’t sold or traded in their old phones, SellCell’s survey (carried out in January) claims that 20% of people give them away to family members, friends or partners, 12% give them to charity, and 9% throw them away.

Women are more likely to give their old phones to a family member or friend (22.5%) than men (18%).

As to why people are holding on to their old phones, 17% of people claim to be “too lazy” to get rid of them, 40% say they hold on to old models in case they need a spare, and 36% say they “don’t know what else to do with them.”

Below is a list of the most popular phones to trade in, along with the value you may get for them:

Top 10 most popular traded-in cellphones in the U.S.

(Credit: MarketWatch, data from SellCell.com)

(Credit: MarketWatch, data from SellCell.com)

  • InheritTheLand

    We have an iPhone 4 that doubles as phone insurance (replacement phone), and for something the kids to play games on.

  • iFan41

    Sounds like propaganda to get people to trade in their phones while third party companies reap the profits off them. Hook up a friend or family member before letting someone else make money off of you. My 4S went to a good friend that couldn’t afford an iPhone when I upgraded to the 5s. People before profits…

  • gettysburg11s

    Why trade in your used iPhone? On ebay, even t he original iPhone from 2007 can fetch up to $100.00 depending on its condition. The iPhone 4/4S are still going for as high as $250.00 in excellent condition, and the iPhone 5 for $350.00-$400.00. A 5s is of course a current model, so prices for those are often at the $500.00 mark or above.

  • Paul Burt

    People like to have a spare around in case their current one breaks.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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