How To Get The Most Money Selling Your Old iPhone

With a new iPhone around the corner, that iPhone 5 or 4S is starting to look a little long in the tooth. If you've got upgrade fever, you might as well squeeze every last dime out of that ancient old thing, don't you think?

There are plenty of ways to sell used electronics, both online and in the three dimensional world. And while you might be in a hurry to liquidate your smartphone assets, assessing your options and playing your cards right can fatten your wallet significantly.

Here's a look at some traditional and less common options for selling your old iPhone (or any smartphone, for the most part), as well as some tips for getting the most bang for your buck on each. 

eBay: Maximize Effort, Maximize Value

If you aren't an established eBay seller, diving into the auction site can be intimidating—but it doesn't need to be. To sell an old iPhone—or anything else—on eBay, the most important thing to remember is full transparency. Be completely honest about the condition of your device. Are the corners around the screen a little dinged up? It might not seem like a big deal to you, but mention that in your listing and include images depicting any wear and tear too.

When it comes to used electronics, images are really important. Instead of settling on one or two stock shots of a shiny new iPhone, bust out a camera (a friend's smartphone will do) and take some nice, custom, in focus shots of your device. Pick good lighting and don't use flash—you'd be surprised what a difference a good photo can make in pushing up the bidding.

Be sure to end your auction at night, not in the middle of the work day. And if you choose to include a Buy It Now option, make that price significantly steep—you don't want to undercut your own auction, after all.

Want to up the ante? Throw in any cases and accessories you might have sitting around. Offering to jailbreak the device can also push auctions higher. And always check completed listings on eBay to see similar items that have recently sold, or failed to sell, to get an idea of what drives the bidding higher.

Craigslist: Convenient and No-Fee

Craigslist may not have the robust built-in accountability of a virtual auction house, but it's got one big thing going for it: there's no middle man. If you sell an item on eBay and use PayPal to complete the transaction, that's two hands getting a piece of the pie that aren't yours.

Craigslist is considerably sketchier—pro tip: don't meet up with a potential buyer by the railroad tracks after dark—but successfully selling a device there means that the cash goes straight into your pocket.

Follow the same general guidelines as you would with eBay in your listing. Be honest and include a full swath of well-shot images depicting any damage (and wipe that screen down first!). Keep your listing fairly simple, and be sure to include the right details. Is your iPhone the 16GB or 32GB version? What carrier's networks will it run on? What version of iOS is it running? The latter bit of info is key to any prospective jailbreakers, so nail every detail.

Once your post is up, you can link directly to your ad across social networks to raise exposure. And never put "OBO" in your post title—that's a surefire way to get less than you're asking for. 

Facebook: Where Your Friends Are

Selling a used phone on Facebook is your simplest, most convenient option. If you have a big social network, odds are that you know someone who might need what you've got.

Make a posting in plain language so you sound like yourself and not like a promoted post—your friends are your prospective customers, after all. You don't need to include anything beyond the basics (i.e. "Hey friends! I'm selling a White 16GB iPhone 4S for Sprint... want it?"); you can provide the rest of the info in backchannels like email, or meet up in person without worrying you'll be prey for a serial killer à la Craigslist.

Other Options: Trade In Or Recycle

If you just want to get rid of your old iPhone easily without maximizing value, online options abound. There are plenty of official-ish and unofficial trade-in options for used electronics, but odds are you're going to get more money elsewhere. Apple's own "recycling" program will give you an Apple gift card for your old device. Beyond that, Apple just launched a new in-store trade-in option powered by BrightStar—just hand your old phone to an Apple store employee and ask for a quote.

Want to let your eyes roam beyond Apple? Plug in your phone's details on the website Gazelle, get an offer and ship it in for cash. Or get an online quote from a big box retailer like Best Buy, Walmart or even Gamestop for in-store credit. Screen cracked? iCracked will buy your old phone, shattered glass and all. 

Remember, when it comes to offloading used electronics, iPhones and otherwise, comparison shopping is key. Look around and get different quotes. Or take the plunge and maximize your value by going rogue and selling it without a middleman.

Good luck out there.