Customers claim Apple partner Phobio is lowballing trade-in values

Apple has emphasized device trade-ins for years now, using third-party partners for its trade-in program, including Atlanta-based Phobio in the United States.

Apple Trade In

Nick Statt for The Verge:

When Daniel McGloin decided to trade in his mid-2017 Apple MacBook in February of this year, he thought he was getting a pretty good deal. The software engineer and San Diego native initiated the trade-in with Apple through the Apple Store mobile app, where he was quoted $350 for his used laptop. He felt it was in pretty good condition, with no apparent damage to the case and a fully functioning display and keyboard…

The situation soon changed after his laptop arrived for inspection. Suddenly, McGloin was told his MacBook was worth just $140, less than half what Apple originally quoted. The mysterious culprit: “display has 3 or more white spots,” the Apple Store app told him. It’s a defect McGloin doesn’t remember ever seeing, and one that he should have noticed: typically, white spots on an LCD display are evidence of serious damage or burn-in and are clearly visible. In McGloin’s estimation, however, the laptop was in “excellent” condition, he tells The Verge, and he didn’t see any white spots when he packed it up…

The Verge inspected McGloin’s MacBook in person after he rejected the trade-in offer and Phobio returned the computer to him. We could detect no such white spots or any discernible damage whatsoever. The laptop booted up and operates like new, and it has since passed numerous online diagnostic tests…

Scores of other instances of this exact situation happening to Apple product owners can be found online, too, with numerous customers citing Phobio’s “3 or more white spots” explanation as the reason for their adjusted trade-in, as well as stories of other types of apparent damage detected only after sending a device in for inspection. This isn’t just restricted to MacBooks, either. Customers often complain of reduced trade-in quotes for iPhones, iPads, and iMacs, too.

MacDailyNews Take: Have you felt you’ve gotten lowballed by Phobio on an Apple device you traded in?

If so, did you reject the Phobio offer and have Phobio return the device to you? We heartily recommend doing so, as we’ve done exactly that in the past and realized significantly more cash than Phobio was offering for the devices via eBay sales or even other trade-in companies.

We’ve also used Phobio without issue as Apple’s online tool quoted good prices and Phobio honored those quotes after being sent the devices on numerous occasions.


  1. I had the same thing happen. It wasn’t “white spots”. But they said there was something wrong with the display (on a laptop that had been babied for its entire life, and had a perfect display). I told them no, and sold it myself for more that their original offer.

    1. I have such a bad case of white spots that I’ve become quite pale. It’s not a Covid symptom, relax. Pass me the paintbrush so I can on some black spots.

  2. Apple’s site shows $380 possible max value for an iPhone 11 trade in. You answer all the prompts that you’re turning in a perfect device and they quote you $250. Wtf. How do you actually qualify for the max value?

  3. When I recently got a new iPhone 12, Apple quoted me a price of $70 for my old iPhone 7, which was in pristine condition. They ended up giving me $105. I was pleasantly surprised. Why are people using this 3rd party trade-in service? Why not just trade in with Apple?

  4. For laptops I always prefer to sell, occasionally on eBay, but usually I know friends who could use an upgrade and would like a deal. Plus all my stuff comes in the original box, packaging, stickers, right down to the twisty ties.

    I keep my laptops longer now, but from starting with the Powerbook 170 I would keep them a max of two years. That also let me pass on a year of AppleCare to the buyer, whom I know. I used to have a friend waiting list. 😉

    I stopped at 2015. The next generation, eh, keyboard issues, switching to usb-c, dongles, eh.

    I finally upgraded in 2019, but am keeping my 2015 on high sierra as a legacy machine plus dedicated to broadcasting, be it a simple zoom meeting or a broadcast seminar from my studio.

    With iPhones, I’m on Apple’s upgrade program. Real simple. 🙂

  5. It’s a well-known fact that ladies from West Europe are intelligent and wise. It helps them on their way to achieving success. It’s also a good trait when it comes to creating a family. Marriages in West Europe are pretty successful and couples are happy. Find European girl and check this fact on your own. There is much more to learn about gorgeous Western European ladies. The best way is to start seeking potential brides and learning from them what they desire in life.

    1. Let me guess, they want a John Dangler of their very own and a fat bank balance. These ladies know how to help make their man a millionaire – by ensuring their man is a billionaire, first.

  6. This is Cook’s problem since this is his sub-contractor. When I bought a new MacBook the Apple site offered the trade value as a rebate. So I purchased the MacBook and sent in my trade. Got an email offering 50% of the amount quoted, with no explanation, so I rejected it. When I got yer laptop back it had a missing key, making it worthless. I thought I was alone but based on these reports I can see an enterprising law firm staring a class action against this classic bait and switch.

    1. I was quoted $500 trade in by Phobio
      IPhone 12 Pro Pro Max 512
      Excellent condition not a scratch on it.
      Protected in case for one year of ownership.

      When Phobio received my IPhone they offered me $120
      One hundred and twenty dollars !!!

      I declined the offer and told them to send it back.
      Four weeks later they returned it.

      I brought it to my local Apple store and they gave me an Apple gift card for $500 Five Hundred Dollars

      1. Why would you trade in a phone that costs $1400+ new for $500?! This only makes sense if it was stolen. If you meant the iPhone 11 it’s still a huge lowball.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.