In trade-in markets, not all older Apple iPhones are equal

“The busy holiday-shopping season is also a busy time for trade-ins, and there’s no hotter commodity than the iPhone,” Wilson Rothman reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“A glance at four popular destinations for trade-ins shows a broad swing in how much money you can get for an iPhone,” Rothman reports. “It depends on how old your phone is but also what carrier it is on, and whether you want cash or credit.”

“By tracking the past four generations of 16 gigabyte iPhones, it’s clear that while the iPhone 4 and 4S haven’t really retained much value, Verizon models suffer far more than those from AT&T, whose GSM network standard is more widely adopted overseas,” Rothman reports. “That big value swing isn’t the case with later models, though: The iPhone 5 and 5S, which have broader compatibility across carriers, are about equal in value.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. We are talking here about (among others) the iPhone 4. Which is four and a half years old (!!).

    When iPhone 4 came out, Samsung had released Galaxy S. It came with Android 2.1 (Eclair); most carriers upgraded it to 2.2 (FroYo) very soon, and the last update available for it was 2.3 (Gingerbread), which came out about nine months after the phone. Since then, Icecream Sandwitch, Jellybean, Kitkat and Lolypop came out, but poor Samsung S was left in the dust. Meanwhile, iPhone 4 will run iOS 7 (which came out more than 3 years after iPhone 4, after iPhone 4 was officially discontinued).

  2. We’re also taking about trade-in, vs resale. There are robust markets for resold, unlocked iPhones. Where do you think the trade-ins are headed? When you trade-in you just decide to share that market value with Gazelle, just like trading in a car vs direct sale to an individual.

    1. Th 16GB models may retain more of their value as a percentage of their original purchase price. I don’t have any information regarding your assertion. But your justification for that assertion is flawed. Lots of people need and use much more than 16GB in their mobile devices. I have never bought less than 32GB, and I always wish that I had more. If your assertion is true, I would submit that it is more likely due to the fact that there is much greater demand at the low end. Many of the people who are purchasing the used iPhones are looking for a discount just so they can afford to buy one.

      Used cars follow the same pattern, at least in my area of the country. There is a large demand for lower cost vehicles in the range of $2K to $4K. As a result, you can sell an older car for more than you would expect.

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