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Repacked CompAsia phones ready to be shipped out. Photo by ASWADI ALIAS.
Download the InstaCash app and follow simple instructions to complete the tests. Photo by ASWADI ALIAS.

With the use of an app, you can trade in your old smartphones.

There’s even a pick-up service too.

THE lives of computers and gadgets are getting shorter and shorter. A desktop PC used to last a few years but today they’ll be replaced after a few years.

Meanwhile, a smartphone used to last for up to four years before it becomes obsolete. Today, many users feel theirs are outdated after 12 months.

With the fast moving technology cycle, users face another issue—what to do with the “old” smartphones.

Associate Regional Business Analysts, Buyback & Trade-In, Henry Ng. Photo by ASWADI ALIAS.

According to Henry Ng, business associate at CompAsia, which sells refurbished smartphones at substantial discounted prices, receives smartphones as “young” as a few weeks old.

“Just weeks after the release of iPhone XR, someone even wanted to sell it to us,” says Henry.

In the spirit of Global Recycling Day, why not find that unused smartphone and give it a second life?


The company is one of the first market movers with a game-changing business model offering a complete eco-system for resellers, telecommunication providers and smart gadgets manufacturers.

Recently, it expanded its market-to consumer front with an app called InstaCash, offering a door-to-door service for phone trade-in at no additional cost.

Developed in India in 2017 by a group of tech engineers to allow trade-in of phones with ease, the application was acquired by CompAsia in a recent merger.

The company offers an alternative to the traditional trade-in system. Instead of getting the device valued by a shop, InstaCash offers buy-over prices based on the model and condition.


The seller downloads the InstaCash app available on Google Play and Apple App Store.

Sellers sign in using either their phone number, Google or Facebook account to launch the in-app tests, comprising a guided test and an automated test. Finally there is the customer declaration.

The app prompts the seller to conduct different tests to determine the usability of the smartphone, such as swipe left or right, click “yes” or “no” and other forms of tests to ensure the device is worthy of a certain price.

Once all the tests are done, an offer is made on the smartphone. If the seller is agreeable to the price quoted, a “place order” is made. Within 24 hours, its customer service will call to arrange a pick-up.

The device will be checked and tested again by InstaCash personnel to ensure that it has not been swapped with a different one. It goes through the same tests for the second time.

Although the application and the tests require a working smartphone, InstaCash also accepts smartphones in different conditions.

Smartphones are unpacked and regraded in full view of a closed-circuit television (CCTV). Photo by ASWADI ALIAS.

“If your smartphone is locked, can’t be turned on, has cracked screen, call InstaCash and we will offer a salvage price,” says Ng.

To gain access to “locked” smartphones, the phones will need to be “broken”, meaning they cannot be sold as one device though CompAsia salvages useable parts.

To date, InstaCash has accepted more than 1,000 smartphone models that date back to 2012. There are even models from 2010. InstaCash refurbishes them to be sold to CompAsia companies in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.


“Once the technician finds everything is in order and both parties are satisfied with the condition of the smartphone as well as the price, the technician will authorise the sum to be transferred to an account provided by the seller,” explains Ng.

InstaCash only deals with wired transaction for safety reasons.

A weekly pricing market analysis is conducted to determine current prices.

InstaCash can also trace if a device is a stolen item.

“We want smartphones to have a second chance but stolen goods are not accepted as it is unethical,” says Ng.

In fact, InstaCash will contact the previous owner of the stolen device and return it.

“If that is not possible, we will turn it over to the authorities.”

Smartphones are unpacked and regraded in full view of a closed-circuit television (CCTV). Photo by ASWADI ALIAS.


Cyber criminals used to target network systems and computers but now they have moved to smartphones and tablets.

Most users are actually unaware that reverted to factory setting does not mean that all data is deleted.

Cybersecurity Malaysia CEO Datuk Amirudin Abdul Wahab says: “Information can be found by anyone who knows how and where to find it. As the de facto recorder of our time, we store photos and for most of the working community, smartphones double as our work station too.”

With corporate e-mail and confidential materials directed to our smartphones, it is important to erase everything in these devices when we do not use them anymore.

Ng concurs, saying: “All electronic devices need to be ‘cleaned’ properly to ensure no leakage of unwanted documentation.”

He adds that all devices that come to InstaCash receive a comprehensive data wipe.

“We apply a military grade data wipe. In simple terms, we carry out what is deemed a triple wipe,” says Ng.

“Data wiping ensures that no one can retrieve what’s not theirs,” he adds.

To ensure that everything is done according to standard procedure, all smartphones are unpacked in full view of a closed-circuit television.

“All processes from unpacking and data wipe to regrading are done under CCTV monitoring.”

CompAsia’s regraded and repackaged smart devices can be purchased at its website and are shipped to other countries too.

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