Thousands of workers crowd warehouses, bent over an unending stream of mobile phones, checking for flaws before sending them on to eager customers. Is it a factory town in China? Nope — just the surprisingly human process that takes place when you send in your old phone for a spot of cash.
Burgeoning international demand and fierce competition in the U.S. mean phone turnover is at an all-time high, and as a result, it has gotten increasingly easy over the last few years to turn a drawer full of old mobiles into a modestly fatter wallet. A smartphone in decent condition can net you anywhere from $50 to $250.