10 Ways to Increase Your Phone’s Trade-In Value

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Last updated January 9, 2024

If you intend to sell your phone at any point, then keeping its value is a priority. Here’re the best ways to increase the sale value of your phone.

When the time comes to sell your old smartphone, you want to make sure you get the best price for your handset. Using a comparison website like SellCell is a great way to shift your old phone and get some cash in the bank, but the trade-in value depends on several factors.

The condition of your phone can make the difference between getting $500 and $50, depending on how it looks cosmetically. With this in mind, the way you treat your phone really can affect its value. So what can you do to increase the value of your phone for trade-in? Here’s ten steps you can take.

1. Keep It in Good Condition (Literally)

If you want your phone to retain as much value as possible, be sure to keep it in good condition, at the very least. We say “good condition”, as this is one criterion by which buyers will judge your handset and assess its value.

“Good condition” refers to a phone that shows:

  • Light to moderate signs of wear or scratches consistent with normal use
  • 100% fully functional

Most phones that are sold via SellCell (80%) are “good condition” phones. By contrast, if you have a phone that falls under the faulty category, it will show signs of the following:

  • Smashed screen
  • Faulty screen
  • Faulty camera
  • Faulty charging port
  • Faulty microphone

A good condition iPhone 12 Pro Max can net you up to $990, whereas a faulty version of the same handset can make you as little as $90. So, as you can see, it makes sense to keep your phone in good condition, as it improves the phone trade-in value.

If your phone is faulty, repairing it before you sell it may well make financial sense, providing the price to repair isn’t more than the sale figure you are quoted, you’re good to go.

2. Invest in a Good Quality Phone Case

To maintain the good condition of your phone and ensure it is free of scratched, nicks, and dents, you should buy a well-made case to protect the sides, rear, and front of your phone.

To do that, you should buy get one that covers your entire phone. A flip case is perfect for this as it offers easy access to your phone, while also keeping it fully protected. This kind of case will also often close with a magnetic catch, meaning that it protects your phone at all times and won’t fall open in your bag or if you drop it to the ground.

3. Buy a Screen Protector

One surefire way to lose value in your phone is to scratch or chip the screen. Excessive chips and scratches mean the difference between a good condition handset and a faulty one, and therefore the phone trade-in value. Especially if those chips and scratches eventually become cracks.

So, you should invest in a screen protector. A tempered glass screen protector is ideal, as it will take any of those knocks on behalf of your phone. That way, the overlaid screen takes all the damage, not your actual phone screen.

The screen can hold up to 70% of a handset’s value. As technology advances, phone screens become harder and therefore more expensive to replace, particularly OLED screens in mobile phones. It makes sense to keep the screen in excellent condition.

4. Only Use a Genuine Charger and Lead

While lower prices can tempt you to pick up a third-party charger or USB, you really should stick to official charging equipment if you want to keep your phone’s value. If that isn’t possible, then you should only buy a charger from a reputable third-party.

Sure, that 3m charging lead might be conveniently long, and cheap at only $1.99, but will it be any good for your phone? Probably not. If the charging cable doesn’t have good-quality electrical connection, then it can damage your charging port, rendering your phone faulty and, therefore, less valuable at trade-in.

It might even set your phone on fire which, as you can probably imagine, doesn’t do much to help you retain the phone’s value!

5. Keep Your Phone Away From Liquid

This might seem obvious, but keeping your phone away from liquid should always be at the forefront of your mind. Liquid can damage your phone in so many ways, but we’re not just talking about dropping your phone in the bath or a puddle. Excessive moisture can damage a phone, even if it is just atmospheric.

So, next time you are about to get in the shower, think about whether or not you really need to take your phone in the bathroom with you. The moisture from your hot shower can seep into the charging point and damage it and the battery in the process, for example.

Water and electricity aren’t the friendliest of bedfellows, so just keep the two separate and your phone will be fine.

6. Avoid Exposing Your Phone to Extreme Temperatures

Avoid exposing your phone to temperatures

As with moisture, extreme temperatures can play havoc with your phone. Both excessive heat and intense cold can damage your phone, wreaking havoc with the internals, which results in a faulty handset. Again, this will reduce the phone’s value.

Leaving your phone operating in direct sunlight can cause the battery to overheat. If this happens, it can swell up or, in the worst possible scenario, explode. There is a reason manufacturers tell you not to subject electronics to direct sunlight. This is that reason.

If you subject a phone to extreme cold, then it may still take damage. Batteries notoriously die in extreme cold, as Lithium-Ion batteries can’t hold a charge in temperatures below 32 degrees. If your battery gets so cold that it dies completely, how do you replace it if you have a sealed iPhone or similar? You can’t without a hefty fee.

Components can also contract in cold conditions. So, you may break the seal under the screen, for example, as it shrinks in the cold. This can lead to moisture ingress beneath the screen, damaging the handset and reducing its value even further.

7. Avoid Exposing Your Phone to Children

At the end of the day, children are clumsy and careless. They don’t know that your Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G cost you $1,200. This means nothing to them while they’re throwing your phone at the floor, or bashing your screen relentlessly into the corner of the tabletop.

However, while your expensive handset is, for some inexplicable reason, in your child’s mouth, remember that all of that saliva they are drooling into the charging port is going all over the electrical contacts and damaging them. So now your phone is probably worth about 10% of its price.

The point we’re making here is that children are accident prone, so even if they aren’t intentionally microwaving your new iPhone, they’re probably accidentally dropping it on the patio. This is obviously not going to help your phone with value retention.

8. Buy an iPhone

iphone 12 mini

This might seem like a childish point to make, however, as an Android user, this writer is recommending buying an iPhone in a completely unbiased way. The fact of the matter is, iPhone’s retain their value for much longer than the likes of Samsung or other Android smartphones.

So, it is fairly straightforward, if you want a phone that you can trade in for a fantastic price, then you should just buy an iPhone in the first place. Then, when it comes time to trade in your iPhone, you’ll get the best value for your investment.

9. Unlock Your Phone Before You Sell It

Another great tip is actually to unlock your phone with your carrier, before trading it in. Unlocked phones often make more money, because they aren’t tied to a particular carrier. This means anyone can put their sim card in the handset and the phone should work.

Unlocking your phone is free once you reach the end of your contract. So, what your phone is worth at trade-in will increase should you decide to go down this route. You just need to contact your carrier once the contract is up and request that it remove the carrier lock.

To give you a quick example, you can get $800 for an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G with SellCell. If the handset is locked to AT&T, though, you’re only looking at getting $650. That is a $150 difference just for taking one extra step and unlocking your phone.

10. Don’t Automatically Sell Your Phone to Your Carrier

Don't automatically sell your phone to your carrier

Trading your phone in with your carrier might seem like the easiest and most convenient way to get rid of your old phone, but is it the most cost effective? The answer to that is “no, it isn’t”. Trading in your phone with a comparison site like SellCell can net you significantly more money than if you sell straight to your carrier.

So, before you decide that your carrier has your best interests at heart, check its trade in value of your phone against that of a comparison website. It will surprise you how much more cash you could make!

Now You Know How to Increase Your Phone’s Value

Keeping or increasing your handset’s ultimate trade-in value needn’t be a laborious process. It is really just a matter of taking good care of your smartphone to ensure that it looks almost as good as new when the time comes to part company.

Then, when you sell your phone, you can take advantage of the fact that companies like SellCell will give you the best price, based on the condition of your phone. Just remember; good condition = good price. That way, you’ll never go wrong when it comes to phone trade-in time.