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Media Release

What really happens to unwanted smartphones?

  • 69% of smartphone owners upgrade despite owning a functional device
  • Aussies’ phone addiction sees 5 million handsets stashed in drawers for emergencies
  • Four signs it’s time to get a new phone

31 January, 2017, Sydney, Australia -- Millions of smartphones lie abandoned in bedside tables as Aussies scramble for the latest must-have devices, reveals a national survey by Australia’s most visited comparison website,

The study of 2,031 people shows that one in seven (69%) Aussies upgrade their phones despite having fully functioning handsets.

The next chapter for one third (33%) of neglected phones involves whiling away their days in a drawer, waiting to be used in case of emergencies.

In fact, with 15.3 million2 active smartphones, that’s over 5 million working handsets just lying around.

Alex Kidman, Telco expert at says Aussies have a hard time letting go of old phones.

“For many smartphone owners upgrading can be bittersweet. They’re gripped by FOMO when the latest model phone is released but they’ve got a perfectly good handset at home,” he says.

“When you use your phone everyday, it becomes hard to go without. We’re so scared of losing contact that most would rather keep a spare than give it to a family member or cash it in.”
Donating phones is the second most common way Aussies dispose of their old handsets, with one in four (24%) giving it away to a friend or family member.

Only one in ten (9%) spendthrift Aussies cash in their used handsets online via the likes of eBay to make some extra dollars.

Almost one in five (18%) handsets are recycled, and 6% are thrown in the bin because they are no longer serviceable.

“It’s good to see Aussies disposing of their phones in a sustainable way. There are toxic chemicals and metals in phones that make them an environmental disaster if they end up in landfill in large quantities,” Mr Kidman warns.

Baby Boomers are the most environmentally friendly with almost a third (32%) opting to recycle their old phones, compared to 15% of Gen X and 8% of Gen Y.

Gen Y was the savviest with cashing in their old handsets (15%), compared to Gen X (9%) and Baby Boomers (4%).

Almost a quarter (22%) of Generation X hand down their phones to their son or daughter when they upgrade.

Top ways Aussies dispose of their old smartphones

1Keep it as a back up
2Give it away as a hand-me-down to a family member or friend
3Recycle it
4Sell it online
5Throw it in the bin
6Trade it in

4 signs it’s time to buy a new phone

  • The battery has carked it

If your phone battery doesn’t make it till lunch time or takes hours to charge, it’s probably time to look at getting a new handset. Unlike the good old days, phones no longer have removable batteries so it can be quite pricey to replace them. Sometimes the most viable option is to replace the handset entirely.

  • The touchscreen is slow

Your phone frequently ignores your taps and swipes. There’s no point walking around with a temperamental phone that only sends your messages some of the time.

  • And, shut down…

The random shutdown of apps, services, or even worse, the whole system. While constantly running out of battery is annoying, having your phone shut down when you’re following a map or mid-way through an urgent work email can be even more infuriating.

  • You’re on the 2G network

For those that don’t know, late last year Telstra shut down its 2G network, which meant roughly 100,000 people were cut off from making calls or sending text. If you’re with Optus or Vodafone, and your phone is from the 1990s or early 2000s, you’re more than likely on the 2G network and you should start think about upgrading your plans and handsets now.

1 Experian Hitwise since 2015
2 IAB Australia and Nielsen, The Mobile Story


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The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on's review pages for the current correct values.

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