With new iPhone, iSell your old one

Posted: October 04, 2011

LOGIC WOULD suggest that older iPhones will drop in value today on the used phone market. That is, in the minutes and hours after Apple introduces its new models - now speculated to include a lower-priced 4GS model, as well as a bigger-screened iPhone 5 and with wider carrier access. Yet, a spokeswoman for the nation's leading "reCommerce" service suggests otherwise.

Gazelle's director of brand and communications, Kristina Kennedy said there will likely be a short rise in value for used iPhones, as the various operations that buy this merchandise jockey for position, to attract the best of the cast-offs. There's an especially "huge" market for good-condition used iPhones in Europe, Kennedy said, where a new customer who already owns a phone gets a much better deal on monthly service than does someone who buys a (price-subsidized) phone and service simultaneously.

But the uptick might not be all that much. On Friday, I got an online price quote of $95 at Gazelle.com for my "flawless"-condition black iPhone 3G 16GB (the rarer white model would have fetched more.) Yesterday, the price was up to $97. So what are they going to give me today - $103?

Rival recycler Nextworth, by comparision, was offering $79.42 for my iPhone 3G on Friday, and still was yesterday. Nextworth doesn't have a "flawless" valuation category for a phone such as mine, which has been in a protective case with one of those clear faceplate shields since the minute I bought it. Nextworth just lets you rate the phone as "broken" or "good."

Other buying services I visited Friday were offering less - $49 at cashforiphones.com, $35 at recycleforcashnow.com, $30 at iphonesintocash.com. So forget about them.

Gazelle and Nextworth will lock in the purchase price quote for a decent period - 30 and 21 days, respectively. So if you're planning to buy a new iPhone immediately (Oct. 15 is the rumored release date), you can keep on using the old phone until then. Gazelle also promises to "up" its quote if their inspectors find your phone to be in better condition than you state, or if they're buying phones for more when you do send it in, though that seems unlikely.

The operation also offers free packaging and shipping, plus payment by check, PayPal or Amazon credit (with a 5 percent bonus). Why, Gazelle even has a free "app" in the iTunes store that automatically identifies your model and helps you through the sale purchase.

Yes, you probably would make more by selling the phone privately on eBay or Craigslist - especially if it's a high capacity (32GB) iPhone 4G in "mint" condition.

Also consider that, once disconnected from a number, that iPhone will still be usable with iPod Touch functionality and Wi-Fi access to the Internet and apps store. So, it still makes a great music player, email reader or child's plaything (that's how my 3-year-old, gizmo lovin' niece Audrey inherited hers). Mine will still serve as a handy-dandy extra remote control for a Roku video box and a Sonos music system.

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