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Who will buy your used cell phones?

The older the phones, the less likely you'll find a buyer.

Living in a modern age comes with a lot of perks, one of the most impressive being the Internet is always at your fingertips with the advent of the smartphone. As of July 2011, 40 percent of mobile phone users had smartphones, and by the end of 2011, smartphones are expected to enter the majority [source: Nielson]. The problem is that all cell phones, including smartphones, qualify as hazardous waste. That means when you upgrade to a smartphone, you have some decisions to make in regard to your old cell phone. Some people simply throw it into the trash, which has helped to create a staggering amount of e-waste, the fastest growing segment of the waste stream. The good news is that you have some options when it comes time to upgrade to a smartphone, or when a newer version of your smartphone is released that you just can't live without.

The aftermarket for cell phones is a vibrant segment of the industry. Just a quick search on reselling smartphones on the Web yields dozens of companies that specialize in buying and selling used phones. Depending on the model of your smartphone and the shape that it's in, you can get a pretty good return on your investment. For instance, there are many Web sites that offer as much as $150 back for some models of the popular iPhone that are in good condition. For customers that bought these phones at discounted rates by signing up as new customers or taking advantage of an upgrade price, it means you're making back most of the money you invested in your phone to begin with. You can also take matters into your own hands and sell your phone through a listing on sites like eBay or Craigslist. This way, you can negotiate your own price directly with the end user.

The bad news is that there isn't a tremendous market for selling ordinary, used mobile phones. The advent of the smartphone has made them somewhat of a dinosaur as far as resale is concerned. However, there are plenty of great ways you can get rid of that phone that do not include throwing it into the trash. Programs like the nonprofit group Cell Phones for Soldiers are a great way to rid yourself of e-waste. In this program, you can donate your used cell phone, which is then sold to a cell phone recycling company. That money is used to buy prepaid calling cards for American soldiers overseas. Since its inception, more than half a million calling cards have been distributed, and phones are pouring in at a rate of more than 100 million per year [source:]. There are other nonprofits that use similar models to distribute donations or used cell phones to seniors and special needs children as well.