Apple's newly announced latest and greatest iPhones will be available on September 20th, which means you have time to trade-in or sell an older model to ease the costs of upgrading to either the 5s or 5c models. Using my own AT&T white 16GB iPhone 5 (in "like new" condition) as a test, I tried out some of the bigger name trade-in programs to see how much I could get for my now "last generation" device...
Amazon offered around $363.75 for a "like new" 16GB iPhone 5. The process is quite easy: select which iPhone to trade-in, mail to Amazon using a free pre-paid UPS shipping label at a designated drop-off. Amazon mails back an Amazon Gift Card in return. Note: Amazon offers the same trade-in service for electronics, textbooks, video games, movies, and music.
GameStop offered an impressive $405 for a 16GB AT&T iPhone 5 in "like new" ("no scratches, scuffs, cracks, dead pixels or engraving") condition for trade-in credit, and $322 for in-store cash value. A "good" phone with normal wear is valued at $358.00. But even a cracked screen can earn a $116 trade-in value, while water damaged devices are deemed only for recycling. An iPhone 4s in "like new" condition earns $236 for trade-in, $189 for in-store cash value; a cracked screen 4s nets a more modest $95.
Best Buy offers up to $350 for a perfect 16GB iPhone 5, and as low as $150 for one in poor condition. Broken iPhones aren't accepted at all except for recycling.
Walmart also offers a trade-in credit service, although they seem to be offering less than others: just $315 for the 16GB iPhone 5. But their survey simply asks whether the phone working or not, offering $80 if the latter is chosen.
Gazelle offers $330 for a flawless 16GB iPhone 5, with a broken model listed at a $125 value. They provide up to a month to send in the sold phone with a purchase price guaranteed, so this service could be a recommended option for anyone seeking to sell a phone in anticipation of a new model, but need to keep using the device until a new model is procured.
Additional resources: sellers can also likely get a little bit more money than any of the options above for their used iPhones selling via Craigslist or eBay, but it does come with its own risks. Craigslist is amongst the best sites for selling used devices at their highest value used, and sellers can require cash payment or an in-person sales. But caution is warranted with any classifieds transaction, and common sense dictates meeting in a public place (a bank has been recommended as a good spot), alongside the headache of dealing with notoriously flaky online buyers.
eBay earns sellers fairly solid prices as well, but auction lengths, shipping, bad deals, and potentially angry customers who aren't getting what they expect make many of the services listed above worth the extra fee for convenience's sake. In any case, remember using good seller's etiquette will help any transaction go smoother.
And if your old iPhone is smashed beyond repair? Apple has a free recycling program...you've got a valid excuse for picking up a new iPhone!
(Images: Apple; Wal-Mart)