cellphonesYou’ve heard of people hoarding clothes, junk mail or newspapers. But here’s an item that you may not have thought to put in the hoarding column: your old cellphone.

A study conducted for SellCell.com, which compares prices for recycled cellphones, shows that half of U.S. consumers have at least two unused cellphones at home. Among U.S. adults alone, that equates to nearly 398 million unwanted phones. That’s a heap of cellphone clutter.

Based on the average price of a cellphone sold on SellCell.com ($91), Americans have about $47 billion worth of orphaned cellphones sitting in drawers, on counters, in boxes or elsewhere in their homes. That’s up from the $33.8 billion estimated in SellCell.com’s 2013 study.

A 2012 survey by mobile security company Lookout revealed that 62 percent of Americans were stashing at least one unused cellphone.

Lazy and Leery
Why do Americans have so much trouble parting with their old cellphones? Here are a few reasons cited in the SellCell.com study:

  • Nearly 40 percent keep their old phones so that they’ve got a backup in case the current one breaks.
  • 36 percent simply don’t know what else to do with them.
  • 17 percent are just too lazy to get rid of them.

SellCell.com estimates that an average American with two unused cellphones is leaving more than $160 on the table by not selling them. Android owners are hanging onto $16 billion worth of old cellphones, according to SellCell.com; for Apple owners, the figure is nearly $14.2 billion.

Keir McConomy, founder of SellCell.com, said the study “highlights how many Americans are still unaware of the money they can make by trading in their old mobile phone, which is largely due to the fact that Americans see phone recycling to be an overwhelming and time-consuming process.”

It’s no wonder, then, that fewer than 11 percent of old cellphones will be recycled, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition.

Popular Recycled Cellphones
According to SellCell.com, here are the 10 most recycled cellphones in the U.S.:

  1. Apple iPhone 4S 16GB—Recycled value up to $110.
  2. Apple iPhone 4 16GB—Recycled value up to $56.
  3. Apple iPhone 4 8GB—Recycled value up to $46.
  4. Samsung Galaxy S3 16GB—Recycled value up to $136.
  5. Apple iPhone 5 16GB—Recycled value up to $211.
  6. Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB—Recycled value up to $213.
  7. Apple iPhone 4S 32GB—Recycled value up to $111.
  8. BlackBerry Torch 9800—Recycled value up to $18.75.
  9. BlackBerry Bold 9900—Recycled value up to $44.
  10. Apple iPhone 5S 16GB—Recycled value up to $325.

Lookout cautions that you shouldn’t blindly get rid of your unused cellphones.

Jenny Roy, leader of the business segment at Lookout, said in 2012: “Before you donate, resell or recycle your phone, it’s important to take steps to remove the data so if your phone gets a new owner, your information doesn’t get exposed.”