Looking for a new cell phone, but not loving the outrageous prices on the market? You may be smart to buy your next smartphone from your local pawn shop. While prices, conditions and available models may vary, you’re likely to find a great bargain on your next cell phone, if you’re willing to do a bit of research and be flexible.

Is it safe to buy a phone from a pawn shop?

Yes! Buying a gently used cell phone from a pawn shop can save you money. Not only can you get a fabulous deal on a high-quality electronic, but you can also rest assured that your transaction is secure. Pawn shops are highly regulated, legitimate businesses. Most shops work closely with local law enforcement to register and track every item in their inventory to help catch criminals and reduce the possibility of dealing in stolen property. So, if you’re thinking of buying a cell phone from a pawn shop, you’ll find a great bargain with a reputable, trusted, highly recommended pawn shop.

How does pawning a phone work?

Here’s how pawn shop loans work: You bring in an item as collateral, and the pawnbroker will determine the value of the item and offer you a short-term loan. Once you agree to the terms and conditions of the loan, the pawnbroker will give you cash on the spot and hold your collateral until you’ve paid off the loan within the specified timeframe. If you don’t pay off your loan as agreed, or decide to forfeit the loan, you lose possession of your item and the pawnbroker can sell it to recoup the cost of your loan.

However, before you decide to pawn your cell phone, it helps to do a bit of research first. Consider these factors:

  • Name brand – Phones from certain manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, are generally higher value, just based on their brand names and reliability.
  • Age of the device – It should be obvious that the newer the cell phone, the more it will be worth. Cell phone values, just like most electronic devices, significantly drop in value after about three or four years. Also, older phones generally don’t have all the bells and whistles newer phones do, and thus, become harder to resell.
  • Condition – Just as age affects your cell phone’s value, so does its condition. Anything defective – like severely cracked screens, deep scratches, chargers that no longer work well or any other malfunctions – will make your phone extremely hard to sell. Also, the pawn shop will test the phone to make sure all the buttons, features and ports work as expected before they’ll commit. If possible, take some time to carefully clean your phone, wiping away fingerprints, dust and dirt to make your phone shine. Don’t forget to erase any personal information before selling to protect yourself from potential scams or identity theft.
  • Activation eligibility – Since most people go directly through a carrier to purchase a cell phone, your phone may be locked or ineligible for reactivation. This could significantly decrease the value of your device, as the phone may only be resold for parts.

Pawn shops and locked phones

Generally, pawn shops will have a hard time selling locked cell phones. Without being able to unlock the phone, it’s much more difficult to determine the phone’s value. If the phone has a carrier lock in place, that prevents the phone from being used on any other carrier’s network and often means the device can only be unlocked by the original network provider or manufacturer. Your phone may also be locked for other reasons by the carrier, including if you still owe money on it or it’s been listed as lost or stolen.

So, while it’s possible to sell a locked cell phone to a pawn shop, be aware your offer will only be for the value of the parts. This means you’ll probably get about 50% to 75% less than the full value of an unlocked phone.

Pawn shop iPhone prices

Got an iPhone and looking for the highest cash you can get for it? Many resell stores, including online retailers and pawn shops, will offer high trade-in values for used iPhones. For many reasons, a pawn shop is one of the best places to pawn or sell your used iPhone. Since iPhones are highly sought after, they hold their resale value well. And by dealing with a pawn shop, you can get cash quickly for your device without the hassle of spending extra time or money trying to list it for sale elsewhere. Another reason people like to sell their used iPhones to pawn shops is that Apple doesn’t buy back used phones.

Depending on your iPhone’s condition, you could fetch anywhere from $300 for an iPhone X to nearly $1,000 for an Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. There are many online sources you can use to determine the current market value for a specific iPhone model, so it pays to do your research first and know what you can expect to pay for various models or features.

At Gene’s Jewelry & Pawn, we specialize in offering you the best prices for your items. For more than 30 years, we have provided our customers with the high level of service they deserve. Visit one of our locations in North Charleston, Moncks Corner or Goose Creek, SC, today and see how we can help you, or visit us online to get a free estimate for your items or shop our outstanding selection from the convenience of your couch!