We’re all used to expecting the Next Big Thing in mobile phones to cost many hundreds of pounds. In some cases, though, it’s the “classic” junk tech lying forgotten in a cupboard that’s now changing hands for real money.

Remember the good old days of portable telephones? Back in the early years of mobile technology, handsets were the size of a shoe and a lot less durable. The thing is, it turns out that some of those old, outdated “dumbphones” are legitimately being called antiques these days - and that means that useless old mobile could now be a vintage valuable!

A lot of us trade in our old phones for cash or store discounts when we upgrade. That’s a decent way to turn unneeded technology into something more useful. You might even get £100 or so off the cost of your next device that way, for instance. However, it could be a mistake to value your phones purely in terms of how powerful and new they are. There are people out there who think very differently, and they’re willing to pay thousands for obsolete handsets.

What's Worth The Most?

Let’s just grab a few examples. Back in the 80s, an electronic talk-brick called the Motorola 8000X was released. This futuristic device had a huge range of sci-fi features – including, so the legend goes, an 8-digit LED display! Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound super-impressive to the modern mobile enthusiast – but how about the £3,500 it sometimes goes for today?

You don’t even need to delve that far back into history to find valuable older phones. The humble Nokia 7700 from 2003 still commands prices as high as £2,000. The same goes for the Sapphire 8800 model from the same manufacturer.

At the very peak of the mobile mountain, we find the prototype version of the original iPhone. If you happened to find one of these landmark devices at a car boot sale, you could be looking at anywhere between £10,000 and £30,000 - depending on the condition and how long it’d sat out in the rain that morning.

What Makes An Old Phone Valuable?

Collectors of all types can have very strict and specific ideas about what’s valuable and what’s not, of course. Not every old phone’s worth serious cash, and sometimes the distinctions between trash and treasure can be pretty fine.

It’s not always the obvious things like design, model or even colour that matter, either. It can potentially make as much difference which version of the software your vintage phone’s running as whether it runs at all. That’s not to say that a broken phone’s necessarily just as valuable as a working one, naturally. It’s just that there are a lot of different elements that go into the calculations, and they’re not all obvious. Original packaging and accessories are significant factors to many collectors, for instance.

Perhaps most importantly, there are certain phones that really changed the landscape of the mobile industry. These milestone mobiles are often the ones that ring up the highest prices, even if they’re relatively modern. Similarly, a seemingly insignificant difference between one model and another can make a huge difference to the value.

Now, it’s unlikely that many people have a 20+ year old Ericsson R290 Satellite Phone lying around these days (it could be worth a grand if you do, though). The point is, we live in a world where technology becomes disposable fast. We all love an upgrade to the latest thing, but it pays to be a little bit cautious when you’re dumping your old devices.

Even if you've only got the phone in your hand right now, use it to see if you could be due a £3k tax refund from HMRC. It's the most valuable thing you'll do with that phone today, unless you buy a winning lottery ticket on it and the chances of you being a due a refund for work related travel and expenses are much higher! It's free to find out and only takes a couple of seconds - so check if you're due a tax refund now.