In anticipation of next month's rumored iPhone 5 unveiling, Apple wants to give you money in exchange for your old phone. But the company's phone-recycling program, now in full effect with a new product on the way, is far from the best deal out there. The latest iPhone 4S can get you $345 from Apple's Reuse and Recycling program, which isn't bad considering a brand-new one (with a two-year contract) costs $399. For those without a mint condition 64GB iPhone 4S, Apple has a little calculator (here) that lets you figure out how much your phone will get you. My tip-top condition 16GB iPhone 4S, could get me up to $170. Again: Not bad, considering I paid $200 for it a year and a half ago.
But, as that little disclaimer to the right shows, a used phone probably won't get those high amounts. What we consider "basically brand-new!" might not meet Apple's standards. For example, "light to moderate scratches or scuffs on either the display or case" brings your iPhone 4 buyback value down $50. Also, Apple won't tell you how much your old phone is worth until after the company has received and evaluated it. You just have to send it along and hope for the best. The system also means you might have to go without a phone for a certain period of time. Once the new iPhone comes out (Apple may take pre-orders immediately following the mid-September reveal), these resale values will drastically drop, so putting this off until the next one comes out still means some phonelessness. That time without a device that has made life without it impossible might make this set-up not worth it, for some.
Plus there are places on the Internet we could do better. Amazon has what CNET says are some of the highest resale values, with a used "very good" condition 16GB iPhone 4S going for $399. The most Apple will give for that is $285. Though, like Apple, they offer payment in the form of credit at their store, which might make sense for someone who doesn't want to buy another Apple phone. Or, The Los Angeles Times points us to Glyde.com, which had a speed sale going on that guaranteed money for the phone. This looks like the best option for people whose gadgets look weathered. For those looking for the most straight up cash, Ebay might be the best place to go. The site has a range of resale prices, but best case scenario the 16 GB iPhone 4S could get up to $410. Whichever site works best for you, don't dilly-dally. As soon as the world has a new iPhone to play with, your perfectly serviceable top of the line smartphone will just be an outdated loser phone and lose value.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.