Apple Officially Launches iPhone Trade-In Program

| Analysis

It's been rumored for weeks and tested in some stores, but on Friday Apple officially launched its in-store trade in program for used iPhones. Under the program called "iPhone Reuse and Recycling Program," Apple will offer an in-store credit for used iPhones good towards the purchase of a new one.

Apple and its Big Pile of Money

Apple and its Big Pile of Money

CNBC broke the story, but Wired reported that Apple is working the program through BrightStar, a services company specializing in the mobile market. Apple Store retail employees will enter details about your iPhone into an Apple app on their iPhones and get a real-time quote fro BrightStar.

If you accept the deal, your iPhone will be wiped on the spot in front of you. If you don't like the price, no harm and no foul, and you're free to leave and take your iPhone with you.

9to5Mac noted that current prices—and realize that these prices will fluctuate according to market conditions—are thus:

  • $250-$253 value for a 16GB iPhone 5 in good condition.
  • $120-$140 for a GSM 8GB iPhone 4
  • $80 for the CDMA version of the same phone

Apple's program launches just a few weeks ahead of Apple's rumored launch of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. This gives Apple's retail staff time to get familiar with the program before being inundated with trade-in demand for the new devices.

One note: I've seen several pieces questioning whether or not Apple can be successful with this program considering the crowded space—Gazelle, Amazon, Verizon, AT&T, Best Buy, and many others offer similar services.

The problem is that those questions are idiotic. Apple is going to quickly become the biggest player in this market for two reasons.

The first is that we're talking about Apple, but the biggest reason is Apple's line of retail stores. Those retail stores see a ton of foot traffic already. On average, those customers will be far, far more comfortable trading in their iPhones in an Apple Store than they would be with any of the mail-centered operations.

No questions, no wondering, and no waiting. That's the makings of a solid customer experience.

This isn't to say that Gazelle can't continue to do well or that Amazon will be chased away, but Apple is going to do a very brisk business in these trade-in devices. More specifically, it will dwarf these competitors in little or no time.

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Wow, what awful value. Not only is it in store credit only, it’s 60% of the market rate.

Run, don’t walk, from this awful offer.

Gregg Barnes

Thats a pretty crappy deal. If they really were hurting, they would have done better.


While those are not as good as some mail in offers and short of the return OS selling them online yourself; those prices are similar to what I’ve seen at other stores. For many the convenience will be the deciding factor.


The convenience of being swindled…..


Is this just an US program or a global program ?

Buddy Bergman 1

I would hope that those prices are for carrier locked phones and unlocked phones would fair more value.


Glad it’s US-only, if there’s swindlin’ to be had!

That aside, Apple is (worryingly) increasingly pandering to a US audience.

They’re acting more like they’ve more to lose the more they go on!


I think heading over to radio shack is a better deal.
I’m not really certain Apple will become the major player.

I could be wrong of course, but it seems to me that Apple’s trade in program wouldn’t appeal to most people.


The online estimate thing quoted me $151 for my 16GB iPhone 4 (GSM).  I guess that’s a bit low?  I’ve never looked into selling or trading in my iPhone.

It was a little difficult to rate the cosmetic condition of my iPhone (choices were Good, Fair, and Poor).  I picked Good, although my iPhone does have a few very small nicks and scuffs in the metal (you probably would have to be looking for them to notice them).  Maybe if they had an Excellent option (for people who use Otterboxes or whatever), I’d feel a bit more confident about rating my iPhone as Good.


Addendum:  I checked out Radio Shack’s online estimate calculator.  Their estimate for the same iPhone was $135.  EleGreen was $140, SellCell $155.70, Gazelle $120, Best Buy $145, Amazon $180.  Amazon gives gift cards, and they do not seem to sell iPhones with plans, which makes upgrading iPhones a bit more problematic.  Of course, I could very easily spend $180 on other things.  But I don’t want to have to do that.

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