Upgrading Your Phone
Has Never Been Easier

Upgrading Your Phone Has Never Been Easier

Is it time for an upgrade? No more are the days of complicated upgrade programs and complex contractual language. Now, upgrading your cell phone is as simple as meeting a few eligibility requirements, and you can complete the entire process online, from the comfort of your own home. Plus, when you save your old device and sell it to ecoATM, you can earn extra cash just in time for the new year.

  • New Year, New Phone: Why There's No Better Time to Upgrade
  • How You Can Use a New Phone to Tackle New Year's Resolutions
  • Upgrading by Carrier
  • Upgrading by Manufacturer
  • Tips for Upgrading Your Phone

Ringing in the new year with a new smartphone complete with all the latest features and some extra spending money? Sounds good to us. Here's what you need to know about upgrading to a new cell phone.


New Year, New Phone: Why There's No Better Time to Upgrade

Start the year out right
Treat yourself for working hard
Find better deals

New Year, New Phone: Why There's No Better Time to Upgrade

As we head into the new year, there has never been a better time to upgrade your cell phone. Here's why:

  • Start the year out right: Start the new year off on the right track with a new device to help you feel refreshed, refocused and reorganized. Smartphones are packed with features to help you tackle the new year, like fitness and mindfulness apps, video apps to learn new skills and the ability to create and view documents on-the-go. 
  • Treat yourself for working hard: The holidays are all about giving, and sometimes, that means giving to yourself. You've survived another year — reward yourself with the gift of a brand new phone, complete with all the latest features.
  • Find better deals: Many retailers, carriers and manufacturers have end-of-the-year and post-holiday sales on electronics, including smartphones and accessories. If you're not upgrading through a contract, these special events are among the best ways to find new devices for less. Check local flyers and online sales advertisements and compare where the best deals are.


How You Can Use a New Phone to Tackle New Year's Resolutions

More than 74% of Americans are setting a New Year's resolution for themselves this year. Top resolutions reported include working toward better health and self-improvement, making smarter financial decisions, focusing more on family, finding love and seeking career growth.

With thousands of apps and tools, your smartphone can help you work toward these goals and track your progress along the way:

  • Health: Health is the leading reported resolution in the United States. Whether your health goal is to get fit, choose more nutritious food or stay hydrated, there is an app to help you manage your progress. If part of your healthy resolution is to spend less time on your phone, many new devices have built-in timers or usage alerts, so you know when you've reached your pre-established daily limit.
  • Self-improvement: Self-improvement means something different to each person, but common goals include practicing mindfulness, learning a new hobby or skill, building self-esteem, making healthier choices and getting organized. Apps and tools can help with activity trackers, journaling features and video tutorials.
  • Money: Financial resolutions often include creating a budget, making smarter financial investments, limiting unnecessary spending or saving for a large purchase or vacation. Use banking apps and mobile budgeting tools with push notifications to stay on top of your finances.
  • Family: More than ever, Americans want to stay connected with family. In fact, "family" has never been listed as a popular resolution until this year. Video and voice calls and social media apps can help you reach out to loved ones all year long.
  • Love: Looking for love? If finding a significant other is on your list of goals for the new year, your new device will let you snap the perfect selfie and access popular dating apps to meet people who share similar interests.
  • Career: Whether you're seeking a promotion or want to break into a new industry, organizational tools, job search apps and instant email alerts can help you grow your career.


How to Upgrade Your Device

You have two choices when buying a new phone — going through a network carrier or through the phone manufacturer.

Upgrading by Carrier

Most major carriers have upgrade programs you can access through your existing cellular contract. One advantage of upgrading directly through your carrier is that they have programs in place to make the transition to a new device easy, with minimal downtime.

Specific requirements vary between carriers, but you typically have to meet one or more guidelines, like:

  • Pass a credit check.
  • Pay a minimum amount off your current device.
  • Meet device eligibility requirements, including damage and wear.
  • Pay a down payment on the new device.
  • Be an active member of an existing upgrades program.

Some carriers also require a one-time upgrading fee if you choose to get a new device before your current contract allows it. Most carrier contracts include upgrades every 12 or 24 months. Contact your carrier to learn more.

Prepaid and pay-as-you-go phones from carriers are not a part of a contract or upgrade plan. This freedom allows you to upgrade your phone any time you want, but expect to pay full retail price. However, some carriers have started offering new, premium devices on a monthly payment plan if you meet specific credit and income requirements.


Upgrading by Manufacturer

If you want a Samsung, Google or iPhone upgrade but don't want to go through your carrier, you can also upgrade your device directly through manufacturers. Like carrier upgrades, you usually have to meet a list of upgrade eligibility requirements, including credit approval and phone condition. In some cases, you may be charged an incident fee.

The process usually works like this:

  1.   You check your eligibility through an online account.
  2.   Once approved, you choose your new device and complete the transaction. 
  3.   Add additional upgrades, like a protection plan or extra storage, if applicable.
  4.   Some manufacturers require or recommend you send your old device to them.
  5.   Wait for your new device to arrive and set it up through your carrier.

One benefit of upgrading through a manufacturer is that you're not tied to a carrier — you can switch at any time. Some manufacturers also have financing programs available for you to enroll in, pending eligibility. Visit your preferred manufacturer's website to learn more about their upgrade and trade-in options.

When Is It Time to Upgrade?

• You're out of storage
• It's been a while
• Your needs have changed
• Your current phone is broken
• It's part of your contract

When Is It Time to Upgrade?

Now that you know your upgrade options, how do you know when it's the right time?

  • You're out of storage: If you're constantly moving your files, pictures and videos over to cloud storage or an external storage device, it's time to upgrade to a phone with more space. Today's smartphones usually ship with anywhere from 32GB to 256GB or higher of available space.
  • It's been a while: Most Americans replace their cell phones every three years, on average. Premium phones typically last longer than mid-tier and low-tier devices, which might call for sooner replacement due to lack of ongoing support and less intensive specs.
  • Your needs have changed: A new job, moving to a new city, new online-only hobbies — as your life changes, so do your wants and needs. Phone upgrades can help you achieve your new goals and stay connected with others.
  • Your current phone is broken: If your phone battery is dying quicker than it used to or can't hold a charge anymore, it may be time to upgrade to a new phone. Additional performance concerns that may be a red flag include lag, frequent overheating and any physical damage, like a shattered screen or broken body.
  • It's part of your contract: If you have a contract with a phone manufacturer or network carrier, you should consider an upgrade every time your contract comes to an end, as this is when most allow you to do so without additional fees. For example, if you're ready for a new iPhone and have three months of payments left, wait out those remaining months until you're free to upgrade without additional monthly payments. Then, you'll own your old device and may not be obligated to trade it in.


Tips for Upgrading Your Phone

As you consider which phone will become your new go-to, follow these tips for a successful upgrade process:

  • Back your data up: Backup all files, pictures, videos, apps, downloads, screenshots, music and memos before switching to a new phone. If you're switching to a phone on the same platform, like an Apple iPhone 11 to an iPhone 12, you'll be able to do this data transfer directly from one phone to another via iCloud. Samsung and Google have similar cloud storage and syncing options. However, cross-platform switches and some older devices may require more creative backup methods, like external storage cards or connecting your device to a computer. After you've backed up your data, log out of all your apps and clear data from any linked devices.  
  • Perform a factory reset: Perform a factory reset of your device before you trade or sell it by navigating to settings and finding the reset option. For iPhones, this is Erase All Content and Settings. For Samsung, it's Wipe Data or Factory Reset. Write down the device's serial number for future reference. Once you've completed these steps, remove the SIM card and microSD card. Many carriers request you do this before trading it in. It's also the best way to protect your information and identity.
  • Turn off location settings: Turn off location settings and "find my phone" features on your device before trading it in. For some devices, including iOS, this is also when you should disable the built-in activation lock feature.
  • Choose the right time: Most manufacturers and network carriers require that you've paid a specific amount on your existing phone, usually around 50%. Some industry experts also suggest waiting until about a month before a new release, especially if you're buying directly from the manufacturer, because this is when retailers are most likely to discount existing stock. You can also keep an eye on annual sale events, like Black Friday, when some carriers have special sign-on and upgrade promotions.
  • Research your next device: Before investing in your upgrade, research your options. Depending on which model you're upgrading, a new phone might be vastly different from what you're used to — especially if you're switching platforms. For example, some of the apps you're used to using on your Android device won't be available on Apple's iOS and vice versa. Consider the things you like about your current phone and identify areas for improvement, like better battery life or more accessibility features.
  • Sell your old phone: Skip the trade-in and get extra cash for your old device after you upgrade by selling it to ecoATM. ecoATM accepts phones from all carriers and manufacturers, regardless of condition. Simply connect your device to a kiosk, accept the on-screen quote and fill your wallet with cash.

Get Instant Cash With ecoATM

With the new year fast approaching, who doesn't need a little extra money in their pocket? When you sell your device into an ecoATM kiosk, you receive instant payment. Earn money for your old devices and enjoy these benefits:

  • Convenience: With more than 4,000 kiosks across the country, ecoATM is a convenient way to get rid of old phones without the hassle of in-store trade-ins or package shipments. You don't have to meet any complicated trade-in requirements or pass inspections — we'll take your device as-is.
  • Environmental responsibility: Selling your phone to ecoATM saves it from landfills, where internal materials and chemicals become toxic and pose a serious threat to human and environmental health. ecoATM will inspect your old device and either resell it as a pre-owned phone or ensure it is properly recycled. 
  • Instant payout: Carriers and manufacturers may take weeks or months to process a trade-in, but ecoATM can give you cash in minutes. You can check the estimated value of your device online before heading to a kiosk to get a better idea of your phone's current worth.
  • Cash vs. credit: When you trade your phone in for cash instead of credit, you have the freedom to spend that money however you want, regardless of your network carrier. Cash is more flexible than account credit — it never comes with strings attached and will never expire.




Find an ecoATM Kiosk Near You

Network carriers and phone manufacturers make it easier than ever to upgrade your phone to the latest model. Once you have your new phone, sell your old phone to ecoATM for fast, carrier contract-free cash and the knowledge that you're doing your part to protect the environment from e-waste.

Find an ecoATM near you to get started!