Almost half of the consumers who buy a new smartphone are storing their older phone instead of recycling it in the used handset market, according to the "Mobile Mountain Study" conducted by research group OnePoll for resale site SellCell (via MarketWatch). These unused phones are worth almost $47 billion, with older iPhone models accounting for approximately $13.4 billion of these hoarded phones.
Though many people are storing their iPhones, some owners are taking advantage of the iPhone's strong resale value by trading them in. A SellCell survey from January 2014 shows that the iPhone 4 and 4S are among the most traded-in cellphones in the US. The most lucrative Top Ten trade-in is the 16GB iPhone 5s, which sells for an average price of $325. The 5s is followed by the Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB at $213 and the iPhone 5 16GB at $211.
Most people (40%) with an old phone sitting in their drawer keep the device as a spare, while others (36%) just don't know what to do with them. A small percentage (20%) give them away to friends or family or to charity (12%). A surprisingly high number of people are simply "too lazy" to recycle or trade-in their old phones (17%), while others have elected to simply throw theirs in the trash (9%).
The recycling of phones will become increasingly important as the smartphone market reaches its saturation point in the next few years. As customers switch from feature phones to smartphones, iPhone ownership is expected to increase to 68% by 2017 with customers acquiring phones from both new and used sources.