Strapped for Cash? UK Households are Sitting on an Average of £842 in Unused Tech 

Are you the owner of an old iPhone or two? If so, you may be sitting on a stash of cash. Research from musicMagpie reveals that the average household in the UK has an estimated £842.12 total worth of unused techgathering dust at home. Whether it’s due to the boredom-driven lockdown purchases, new hobbies, the need for new tech to work from home, or a newfound desire to get the latest gadgets, this new research means the amount of unused tech in people’s homes has risen 41% since the start of the pandemic. 

When it comes to our old phones, it has been found that each household in the UK has an average of two unused phones lying around – so how much cash are we sitting on from just our old phones? Using their internal data, musicMagpie revealed that the average price paid for phones traded in with them is £207.72, which means UK households could be sitting on an average of £448.68 in unused phones alone.

The question is, why are Brits holding onto old iPhones? musicMagpie has worked with Hilda Burke, Psychotherapist and author of ‘The Phone Addiction Workbook’, to understand exactly why people struggle to get rid of their old phones. She says:

“One of my clients described their mobile phone as ‘like an extra limb’ as it’s the one item that most people will not leave home without. 

“So much so that a recent survey I came across estimated that 84% of people worldwide couldn’t go a day without their phone ‘in hand’.  People are quite literally ‘attached’ to their mobiles so to then give away these items can feel quite discombobulating even if they have a newer, better, shinier replacement.”

“It’s also important to take into consideration the ‘just in case’ factor – many of us aren’t fully confident in being able to transfer all of our notes, contacts, pictures and more to our new device so we use our old devices as a safety net to keep hold of this information.”

With so many UK households admitting to holding on to unused tech, the new research dug deep to reveal the top five reasons why we seemingly can’t let go: 

  1. Keeping as a backup in case my tech breaks (16%)
  2. Not wanting to put old tech items in the bin (13%)
  3. Keeping in case a friend or family member ever needs it (13%)
  4. Not knowing what to do with unused tech once it has been sorted through (12%)
  5. Not being bothered to sort through old tech  (12%)

In relation to not being bothered to sort through old tech, Hilda adds:

“I think this will resonate with many of us. Sorting through old tech falls into the category of ‘life admin’ which most of my clients admit to procrastinating over. 

“According to Stephen Covey, author of the the best-selling book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, we are most likely to procrastinate over tasks that are deemed ‘non urgent’ and ‘non important’ and sorting through our old devices would fall into this category for most.”

Sound familiar? With the launch of the iPhone 14 on the 7th of September and the cost of living crisis taking hold, Jon Miller, Group Chief Commercial Officer at musicMagpie, has shared his expert insight on what you can do to make parting with your old technology pain free and profitable.

Don’t hang around

Though it can be tempting to hold onto your iPhone in the hope of a better price, this often isn’t the best course of action. Jon says: 

“It’s often thought that you need to have a new phone before you think about selling your old iPhone, but the reality is that you should start the trade process long before that by locking in a price – that way, you don’t need your new  phone to hand before you get a price for your old one! 

“Once a new iPhone model launches, other models will begin to depreciate in value, so holding onto your old phone for too long will impact how much cash you can bank. In our 2021 Annual Depreciation Report, we revealed the value of older iPhone models will drop by around 10% in the first month after the new model is released  and by an average of 23% after 3 months.”

“If you’re due an upgrade, selling your old iPhone model will help make a considerable dent in the price of your new model – it’s a no-brainer, so don’t wait around while your phone decreases in value.” 

Make memories that last 

Fear of losing saved memories and cherished camera rolls is all well and good until you’re left with a devalued iPhone and wasted tech. 

Jon explains: “People often keep hold of their old models and put off selling them due to personal investments, as many fear that precious memories could be lost through the upgrade process. Luckily, cloud services provided by the likes of Apple and Samsung allow phone users to transfer digital content to their new devices with ease. 

“Photos and videos are considered somewhat of a time capsule for the modern age, and you’d be hard pressed to find an iPhone user who doesn’t place great value in them.”

Hilda suggests:

“It’s likely that our phones have accompanied us through many key life events meaning nostalgia is often a major factor for not wanting to let go of a now unused piece of tech. Despite losing its functional purpose, a phone can become ingrained with a special significance of which the memories it holds take priority over the device itself.”

Consider the bigger picture 

Sure, there’s money to be made – but selling your iPhone isn’t just about cashing your coins in. Selling your old model will help improve your carbon footprint and reduce e-waste, too. 

Jon explains: “Upgrading your phone to the latest model is always tempting – but we can’t ignore the fact that it encourages waste. E-waste is an increasingly concerning environmental issue with short phone lifecycles being a major contributor. By replacing our iPhones as frequently as many of us do, we need to consider how we can be more sustainable during this process.

“By opting to trade in your iPhone you can ensure that your device can be refurbished and reused for years to come. You could also consider upgrading to a refurbished phone instead.” 

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.