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How Much Is Your Smartphone Actually Worth?

by Faith O'Neil

Do you know how much your mobile phone is worth? The chances are that you don’t. A huge percentage of us now get our phones ‘free’ when we sign a 24-month contract, meaning that technically our phones are worth the monthly fee. As is the case with all technology, the price of smartphones is now falling, as companies fight to provide sophisticated technology at a price that even students can afford. For example the iPhone 5C which is marketed as a ‘budget’ version of the iPhone 5 (leaving a slight question about what was wrong with the 4).

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Exchange or Recycle?

Your mobile contains a mix of metal and plastics, and it may surprise you that gold and silver are sometimes used to make smartphones. Other metals used can affect your health if you are exposed to large quantities of them – like anything, these days. Some of the principle metals used are: cadmium, which is a harmful carcinogen, lead, which needs no introduction, and nickel, which can cause birth defects.
Never the less, we aren’t about to abandon the mobile phone and re-discover the joy of letter writing, so all those details are slightly by the by. The fact is that, by the end of your contract, your mobile phone may well we worth more crushed than exchanged. The materials in your phone are widely recycled, and can be made into other things. Re-programming a mobile phone is a specialist job, and many smartphones don’t have the longest shelf-life, unlike the immortal Nokia.
Albemarle Bond explains that 40% of the material in phones is recyclable, and saves 60-90% of the cost of mining the raw materials, which makes recycling mobiles a lucrative business. This is the real reason behind the influx of mobile trade-in websites, which pay cash for your mobile phone. The amount is usually far lower than the example on the advert, but is often attractive enough to make people part with their old mobile. In fact, the ‘scrap’ value of your old phone is quite high. However, unless you know how to go about arranging to recycle phones, and be paid for it, then this potential market it a closed shop. Yes, technically trade in sites are a rip off, but they also provide a service, and in their own way, save the planet. Well, some of it.

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