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Time to Upgrade? A Look at iPhone Trade-In Offers

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

Unless you've been in the mountains of Tora Bora all week, you've probably heard that Apple is releasing a new iPhone. By now, the phone has already been made available for pre-order. This one will be shinier, faster (and strangely, larger in size). "Well," you say, "I don't need a new phone. Mine is working just fine."

Is it? Are you sure? Even if you're not interested in upgrading right now, there are some other things you might want to take into account before you count yourself out.

Trade-Ins Are Coming Hot and Heavy

Basically, everyone is offering a trade-in for your old phone. If you're using an iPhone 4 or any other phone from around 2010, then now is prime time to cash in on some sweet trade-in offers.

"Sweet" is relative, though: Basically, phone companies will give you credit on your bill and stores will give you store credit. Only Gazelle (that we know of) offers cold, hard cash...

  • Gazelle will offer about $135 for an iPhone 5 in "good" condition; it goes up to $160 if the phone is unlocked from the carrier. An iPhone 4 will net you about $80. You can receive your money in the form of a PayPal credit, an Amazon gift card, or a regular old check.
  • AT&T will give you $100 credit on your bill if you also agree to add a new phone line to an AT&T Next account.
  • Apple offers about $200 for a even a locked iPhone 5 in good condition -- but it will only offer it in the form of an Apple Store gift card, which you'll get once the recycler has determined that it's in the condition you say it is.
  • Verizon's "Trade In, Trade Up" program will give you up to $300 for your old phone -- but, again, it's in the form of a gift card you'll receive well after the fact.
  • An iPhone 5 in good condition will get you $225 from Best Buy (and an iPhone 4 nets $75) -- in the form of a gift card.
  • T-Mobile also offers a trade-in program; it won't pay anything for an iPhone 4 (though it will give you $230 for an iPhone 5, in the form of a credit on your bill).

How Old Is Your Phone, Anyway?

With the launch of the iPhone 6 comes a new version of the phone's software, called iOS 8. Sadly, iOS 8 won't be available for anything older than the iPhone 4S, and even then, several features will be unavailable, notably "Continuity," which allows you to hand off calls on your phone to your computer or start an email on your phone and finish it on your computer. We also don't know yet how well iOS 8 will run on an iPhone 4S. Recall that, last year, iOS 6 caused performance problems on the iPhone 3GS, which couldn't really handle the new operating system.

If you're looking to offset the price of a new phone by trading in your old one, don't tarry too long: The more time passes, the less your old phone will be worth.

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