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It was unwrapping time, perhaps on Christmas day, perhaps on the Eve, according to your family tradition. But disaster struck. You were gifted something which would have been fine and fun, if you didn’t already have something similar. Or it doesn’t quite fit within your carefully chosen network of gadgets. Or it’s a little on the cheap side.

For whatever reason, it just doesn’t work.

Someone, full of love, may have given you a wonderful Android phone, not quite realising that you have no intention of switching from the Apple ecosystem. That Bluetooth speaker would have been simply excellent … had you not already had three Bluetooth speakers of higher quality.

Or perhaps that new fitness band is precisely what you want, with more features and a better display than the old one. Congratulations! But now your old one is the surplus device.

What to do? Well, at least you can realise some value for your unwanted gadgets, new or old. Perhaps value not for you, but for someone else. Here are nine options for disposing, hopefully usefully, of those excess gadgets, along with one important piece of advice.

The Sony Xperia XZ is a great phone, but if you’re all iOS at your place …

First, though, one other important piece of advice: if you recognise as you’re removing the festive paper that you’d going to want to dispose of the gift, try to avoid removing its shrink-wrap. Unopened gadgets are going to have higher disposal value.

Return the gift to the store for credit or to swap

This is often the simplest and most satisfying solution, since you can replace it for something that you really want. But this may require some delicate handling. To return a gift to the store typically involves producing a receipt.

Unfortunately, way too many gift givers thoughtlessly dispose of the receipt before Xmas Day. Or perhaps they haven’t, but you know that Uncle Jim has a well-deserved reputation for wreaking revenge on those insufficiently appreciative of his gifts. It’s up to you to think of a way of enquiring without offending. That’s not something we can give you advice on since there’s no gadget yet able to pull off that trick.


These days many gadgets can be used for an alternative function, even though that might not be its main purpose. An Android tablet or phone gifted into an Apple home, or the other way around, can be pressed into service as a special purpose controller for a home audio system, removing the need to use your main phone for trivial but battery-draining activities.

On the other hand, a Windows/Android home may have trouble fitting in an iPhone 7

A TV can become a large or even giant computer monitor. Something you can plug your notebook computer into when you get home (just use the HDMI input). Modern computers will usually support 4K monitor, which is what your 4K TV can become. But you will want to see if you can find a “Computer” picture mode, or if it doesn’t offer one, choose the “Game” picture mode. That way the “monitor” will be more responsive than usual, and won’t do anything silly like rescale the picture so that you can’t see the edges.

Hold it to rescue others

Someone in your wider circle of friends or family can be almost guaranteed to drop their phone within a month or two. While Corning Gorilla Glass numbers go up, making screens ever more scratch and crack resistant, there are still limits.

So when disaster strikes and they turn out to be unable to afford a repair – or perhaps it’s even too far gone for that – you can be positioned to come to the rescue with a “loaner”. Or an emergency gift, even, it that’s how generous you want to be. Or at least be perceived to be.


If you live amidst more than one social circle, with little interaction between the two, then you can realise real value by taking grumpy Uncle Jim’s gift, re-wrapping it birthday paper and giving it to someone who’ll appreciate it in the other circle. Obviously, an undisturbed original shrink wrap is important here, along with a preparedness to tell the giftee that you’ve lost the receipt, should they be crass enough to enquire about swapping it themselves.