It's natural to get the phone-upgrade itch when the likes of Apple, Samsung and others keep coming out with newer models. And sometimes your old phone is just kaput. But what do you do with a serviceable but outdated gadget?

Rather than relegate an old phone to a desk drawer, consider reusing, recycling or reselling it. Of course, there's also the option to donate. Here's a guide for figuring out what you might do with last year's model (or even older ones).


Several charities accept old phones as a donation. But these groups probably won't physically give your old phones to people in need. Instead, they'll often sell your phone to recyclers and keep the money.

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) administers a recycling programme for mobile phones, with Sustainable Coastlines as its charities partner.


Unwanted phones can be dropped off at Vodafone, Spark or 2degrees stores with an in-store recycling banks, or Appeal partners can arrange collection.

Autism New Zealand is teamed up with the phone recycler Swapkit NZ in a scheme where old mobile phones can be swapped for new technology.

Participating schools, groups or individuals gather donated phones and once enough phones have been collected, Swapkit will arrange a pick up and gift an iPad, laptop or tablet depending on how many are collected.

Arthritis New Zealand also collects old mobile phones to recycle, receiving a 'reward' for them. Unwanted phones can be posted to the organisations PO BOX address written on its website.


Once new models come out, older ones flood onto TradeMe and other resale sites, so it might make sense to wait a little.

How much money you can make off your old phone depends on the brand and how much wear and tear it's seen.

On TradeMe, you can purchase a Samsung Galaxy S7 in "excellent" condition for $550 - that's the starting bidding price. What does "excellent" mean? The phone has no cracks on the screen or body, powers on and makes calls, and is even comes with a camo phone case. A "refurbished" 32GB that looks like it's never been used will cost you $10 less. A 128GB iPhone 7 with a rose gold finish and in good condition, meanwhile, will cost you $1,250.

The TCF, however, says consumers should check if a mobile phone has been blacklisted before purchasing it.

They do can so by looking up the serial number at


Even without cellular service, you old phone will be able to get on Wi-Fi, so you can use it to stream music, post on Facebook or do pretty much anything else you want provided you are in Wi-Fi range.

Keep it for yourself, give it to a broke friend, or load it up with kid-friendly apps and games and hand it down to your children. Or just keep it as a backup in case something horrible happens to your main phone. An old phone can tide you over until you can manage repairs or get a replacement.


Of course, there's no rule saying you must upgrade your phone each year, as much as manufacturers would like you to.

Is your phone still in fairly good condition? Could you, perhaps, get that cracked screen fixed, delete some videos and apps to free up memory, and clean out accumulated pocket lint in the charging or headphone port?

You can try a toothpick or use canned air, but be careful using something made of metal like a paper clip - you could damage your phone.
Then you'd really have an excuse to upgrade.

- AP with additional reporting NZ Herald.
This story initially said the Starship Foundation was involved in mobile phone recyling. That was incorrect as its relationship with the TCF's recycling programme ceased in 2016.