Seller Beware: Market For Broken iPhones A Shady Place

August 26, 2011

One of these bricks is worth something

I wrecked my iPhone this summer. Put phone in swimsuit pocket (dumb), jumped into knee-deep water (dumber), turned on wet device in a panic (dumbest).

Now I’ve got an expensive brick. The phone’s not totally dead, however. It still charges, turns on and syncs. But the backlight is fried, so you can only see the screen in the brightest of conditions.

So I figured I’d check out the market for broken iPhones. I guess it should come as no surprise, but the online market for used and damaged iPhones is an awfully shady place.

On Craigslist, you see ads from people who say they’ll buy iPhones in any condition. Hey, great! Except I’m not sure I’d respond to an ad stating, “I will meet in a safe public location and pay cash. let me know what you have.”

"Pssst! Hey, mister. Want to sell an iPhone?"

Then there are the web sites with names such as ““, promising wads of cash for your broken phones. They look a lot those outfits that ask you to send them your gold jewelry (only to have them low ball you on their offer once they have your gold in their hands).

I’m sure there are some reputable buyers out there. Some posters on electronics forums say eBay is the best place to unload your unwanted smart phones. The site BuyMyTronics has received some favorable reviews. PC World recently detailed options for selling your used phones.

For now, I’m still weighing my options. It might make sense to get my iPhone 3GS 32G repaired … and then sell it in working condition. Amazingly, I still see people getting hundreds of dollars for the 3G. I better hurry, of course, since the iPhone 5 is rumored to be coming out this fall.

Or I could be a good little marketer and create a demand for a new product. Anybody want to buy an awesome iPhone paperweight?