One thing to be mindful of when trying to repair a phone, laptop, or other device with a battery inside is to drain the battery before you open it up. For repairs on major white-good appliances, rubber gloves and rubber-soled boots can minimize the risk of getting shocked.
If you lack the confidence to attempt repairs, you can likely find a good local repair shop by reading reviews. The Federal Trade Commission found that independent repair shops have the same success rate and safety record as manufacturer shops. Many manufacturers have discouraged repairs with the threat of warranty voiding, but the victories for the Right to Repair movement have led to tech getting slightly more repairable.
Just be careful to back up and protect sensitive data on your device before handling them in a repair shop. Some devices might even have a built-in solution. For example, Samsung phone owners can activate Maintenance Mode before handing a device off to ensure that photos and accounts can’t be accessed.
Sell or Trade
You can make some money if you sell old devices. Even broken devices can be sold for parts, though you will always command a higher fee if you clean and repair them first. You can also score a discount off something new with trade-in or buyback schemes. We have guides on how to sell or trade in your iPhone (remember to factory reset it first) and how to sell your smartwatch or fitness tracker.
You can generally command the highest fees by selling directly to people through eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Nextdoor. Just remember that you will need to arrange delivery or meet up to exchange the goods, and buyers often like to haggle.
For a hassle-free sale, consider places like Swappa, DeCluttr, or GadgetPickup. These kinds of buyers use online questionnaires to determine a price and often provide free postage. Shop around and see who offers the best price, but be honest in your descriptions, or you may find that your quote gets reduced after inspection.
Take-back or trade-in programs are another easy option, though you probably won’t make as much as you would through a sale, and often you might get your fee as store credit. Best Buy, Amazon, Verizon, Samsung, Walmart, and many others offer trade-ins on electronics.
If you like the idea of your old electronics doing some good, consider donating them for worthy causes. Chamberlain says Goodwill is one of the best options because the company has a strong reuse hierarchy and aims to get as much out of electronics as it can before recycling them. You can also find local charities that accept electronics through Donation Town.
Cell Phones for Soldiers is a non-profit that sends overseas troops prepaid mobile phones so they can stay in touch with loved ones. Recycle Health is another non-profit that collects fitness trackers and gives them to underserved populations to encourage fitness.
Research and Recycle
Some of the places we have already mentioned will recycle devices that can’t be reused, and it’s worth checking to see whether the original manufacturer of your device has a recycling scheme. Retailers like Best Buy and Staples will accept and recycle your old phones, laptops, and other electronics.
Local facilities that handle electronics for reuse and recycling sometimes have community drop-off events, Seibert says, and local municipalities often have electronics collections once or twice a year, so it’s worth looking to see if there are any scheduled in your area.
Sadly, not all recycling centers and schemes are equal. SERI administers the R2 Standard to set best practices for protecting the environment, worker health and safety, and natural resources. An R2 Certified facility will ensure any used electronics are processed responsibly, including any residual data on devices. While most aren’t set up for consumer drop-offs, there is a search tool to filter for those that do.
You can also find a long list of international waste recycling links at iFixit, check out Call 2 Recycle for batteries, and find recycling locations through Earth 911.
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