Old objects can sometimes fetch a handsome sum of money for their former owners and cell phones are no exception. Some models are also highly sought after by collectors.
“Like cars, mobile phones are clearly part of this current phenomenon where people in their forties and quincas are looking for objects they knew when they were younger”, explains Lilian Morer, founder of the Mobilophiles site, specializing in history. and the evolution of portable mobile phones.
Among the models most coveted by collectors, the very first mobile phone in the world is obviously at the top of the list. This is the DynaTAC 8000X, created by the American company Motorola in 1983. Initially sold at a price of 3,995 dollars (2,992 euros), it would currently be worth on the market “between 3,000 and 3,500 euros”.
Also in the 1980s, the telephones of Radiocom 2000, a public correspondence network in France, were also sought after. Operating under the 400 MHz frequency band, the telephone sets are equipped with rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries. Distributed by France Telecom, the models were manufactured by several companies including Matra, Radiotel, Alcatel and Sagem.
Sold at the time at a price of 3,500 francs (797 euros), the purchase of the terminal also included a monthly fee of around 225 francs (51 euros). “Currently, the price of a Radiocom 2000 device varies. It can start at 50 euros and, depending on the rarity of the model, it can go up to 500 euros maximum”, estimates Lilian Morer. The latter specifies that the devices in their original box have more value.
Currently, cell phones from the 1990s are the most popular. Among the models of this decade, there is the IBM Simon, the first touchscreen smartphone and mobile phone in history. Launched in 1994, it was sold at a price of 1,099 dollars (823 euros) or 899 dollars (673 euros) with a two-year subscription. However, the phone was a commercial failure and did not even cross the borders of the United States. “However, it is impossible to find it for less than 1,000 euros at the moment,” says Lilian Morer.
Motorola’s limited-edition StarTACs are highly prized by collectors. “What is interesting with this phone is that it was marketed with SFR’s Millenium package which allowed people to make unlimited calls”. People also have this phone in their minds because it bent in half. It was a clamshell system like Samsung is now reissuing. It was easy to put in the pocket of a shirt,” explains the specialist.
The Nokia 3310 and the Bi-Bop are iconic models. However, they are not worth much in the market. For the first, the telephone was created in huge numbers. “126 million copies have been sold worldwide”. For the second, the phone is not particularly sought after by collectors abroad. “It’s a typically French product. There hasn’t been a global craze,” says Lilian Morer. Sold respectively at a price of 300 euros and 580 euros on their release, these two mobile phones are currently worth nearly 30 euros on the market.
The founder of Mobilophiles emphasizes the importance of clearly defining collectible mobile phones. “A collector’s phone is defined. A smartphone does not yet fit into the notion of collection because it is something too recent”, he wishes to clarify. “With the exception of the first iPhone, released in 2007, which marked its time. It was a real technological evolution”, he nuances.
“Normally, a first generation iPhone that has been used and is in good condition is worth 100 euros. But there is a model that was sold last August at auction. It was still sealed in its original packaging. It is left at an exorbitant price”. Indeed, this iPhone was sold for 35,114 euros, or more than 35,300 euros, via the site of the auction house RR Auction.
Lilian Morer would like to warn collectors against counterfeits, especially with the first iPhone and the limited series on phones from collaborations with luxury brands such as Dolce
In our slideshow below, discover five cell phones that are popular with collectors.
Found an old phone in your drawers and it’s not on the list? Rest assured: this does not necessarily mean that it has no value. Start by researching the model and year of your device on peer-to-peer sites, such as eBay.
Study the value of your object on the market and, if the price interests you, put it on sale. Be careful, however, and always choose reliable and specialized sites: online sales are secure and you make sure that your object will be acclaimed by real collectors, and not by scammers eager to extract money from you.