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How to recycle your old smartwatch or fitness tracker – Which? News



Old tech can often end up languishing in a drawer at home, but it can be recycled, donated or even earn you money.

When we surveyed wearable users in 2023, 31% of fitness tracker owners and 23% of smartwatch owners confessed to still having their old devices at home.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers can’t be recycled or binned via your at-home collection services as they are electronic waste. 

Electronics such as these ‘represent the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, generating more than 48 million tonnes of e-waste annually’ according to sustainable non-for-profit Global Electronics Council

We explain your options for disposing of your old model – and how to ensure your data is kept private.

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How to sell or trade-in your old smartwatch or fitness tracker

Companies like CeX, Music Magpie and Currys will pay you cash for your old wearable. 

How much you’ll get depends on the retailer, the condition and age of your device, and if it comes with a strap. 

It’s worth comparing prices from a few companies. We checked prices for some older models of big brand smartwatches, and found cashback quotes varied by nearly £30 in some cases.

You can use comparison websites like Compare and Recycle to check cashback offers for your device. Bear in mind some retailers will only confirm the final amount once they’ve inspected its condition.

Table shows prices based on devices in ‘good’ or equivalent condition. GPS versions are shown where applicable and we have listed the highest price on offer. Prices correct as of 04.01.2024. n/a is listed when product is not available to sell.

You can often also trade in your old device with the manufacturer. 

Apple offers credit towards a new Apple product if you trade in your old Apple Watch. If your device is not eligible for credit, Apple will recycle it for free. As of January 2024, you can get between £45 and £340 of credit depending on the model, and you can trade it in in store or online. 

Similarly, Samsung offers a discount on your next Samsung device if you trade in your old smartwatch, and it also accepts watches from a range of manufacturers.

You can also sell your smartwatch or tracker independently through an online marketplace like eBay. If you still have the box and any extra accessories still, these will likely make it more appealing.

In need of a new tracker? Check out our guides to the best smartwatches and best fitness trackers for our most up to date recommendations

How to recycle or donate an old smartwatch or fitness tracker

Checking smartwatch

Some local authorities accept certain small electrical items as part of their kerbside home recycling schemes. Typically there will be special instructions, such as leaving these items in a small plastic bag alongside your recycling bins. Check with your council to see if this service is available in your area.

Electrical goods retailers and some supermarkets also accept small electricals for recycling, though some will only do so if you show the receipt for the replacement product that you bought.

Visit Recycle Your Electricals to find your local recycling options. Here you can also see how to repair your device if it has a fault and you want to keep using it or sell it on.

If your product still works, many charities also accept electrical donations, such as The British Heart Foundation and Barnardo’s. Visit Recycle Your Electricals for a full list of charities that accept them in the UK.

See how the latest models from Apple, Samsung, Google and more fared in our tough tests: see our smartwatch reviews and fitness tracker reviews

Is my data at risk if I recycle my smartwatch or fitness tracker?

Man paying with smartwatch

You should wipe your data completely before recycling, trading in, or donating your device. Here’s how to do it without losing your data:

Back up your smartwatch or fitness tracker data

If you have bought a new smartwatch or fitness tracker from the same brand as your previous one, you can use the official paired app to back up your data and transfer it on to your next wearable. So make sure you do a final sync to make sure none of your data is lost whilst changing devices.

If your new smartwatch or fitness tracker is from a different brand, it’s not quite so easy. You can export your data from the paired fitness health app, or you might be able to use a third-party app that’s compatible with both devices as a ‘middle-man’ to transfer your data from one app to another. For example, if you’re moving from an Apple Watch to a Fitbit, you can use the Strava app to sync your data.

Erase your smartwatch or fitness tracker data

After you’ve backed up your data, erasing it requires a ‘factory reset’.

Some smartwatches or fitness trackers will automatically be reset as soon as you disconnect them from the paired app on your smartphone, but some require a few extra steps. 

Usually the factory reset can be found easily in the settings of your device, but follow the links to the help pages below to find out the specific instructions for your device:

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*Survey data based on Which? members and members of the public in March 2023, covering 3,471 smartwatches and 2,937 fitness trackers.

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