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iPhone trade-in prices start to slip after iPhone 5 unveiling

35% of one firm's quotes are for last year's iPhone 4S, an indication of interest in the new model

September 13, 2012 04:15 PM ET

Computerworld - Used iPhone values dropped as much as 8% at several trade-in firms after Apple announced the new iPhone 5 and cut prices for two older models yesterday.

In the last week, the price quoted by NextWorth for a used 16GB iPhone 4S fell by 8%, dropping to $273 today from $300 on Sept. 6.

Gazelle, one of NextWorth's rivals, said today it would pay $264 for the 16GB iPhone 4S, or 5% less than last week's quote of $277.

Both companies are part of an expanding industry that buys used devices, primarily smartphones but also tablets and video game consoles, from consumers, refurbishes the devices, then sells them online, often using eBay and Amazon, or to wholesalers who may ship them overseas.

Prices paid for the same iPhone 4S by other trade-in outlets also dropped, or in some cases held steady.

At Glyde.com, a company founded in 2009 by former eBay executives, today's recommended selling price was $347 for the same 16GB iPhone 4S, down 4% from $362 a week ago.

Apple, which purchases used iPhones as part of its Reuse and Recycling program, has kept its 16GB iPhone 4S appraisal steady at $285 for the last seven days.

eBay's Instant Sale website quoted the same $300 it did a week ago.

"We've seen a drop in [quote values] of between 5% and 10% across all iPhone models since the announcement," said Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at Gazelle, referring to the iPhone 5 event Apple hosted Wednesday in San Francisco.

The decline was not unexpected: Prices paid by trade-in vendors have fallen after each previous iPhone or iPad launch event.

Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 yesterday, and announced price cuts for 2010's iPhone 4 and last year's iPhone 4S. Apple will continue to sell the last two iPhone generations: A 16GB iPhone 4S now costs $99, or a 50% reduction from Tuesday, while an 8GB iPhone 4 is free.

To close those deals, consumers must agree to a new two-year contract with a mobile carrier.

Also as expected, the number of people considering selling an older smartphone soared yesterday as Apple confirmed that the iPhone 5 has a larger 4-in. display, supports mobile carriers' faster LTE data networks, and is both lighter and slimmer than its predecessor.

Gazelle tracked a 75% increase in the number of quotes it offered yesterday compared to Tuesday. CExchange, an electronics trade-in firm that handles programs from 40 brick-and-mortar retailers, mobile carriers and online sources, including eBay's Instant Sale, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack, cited a 70% jump in appraisals yesterday.

Used iPhone price quote
The trade-in value quoted for a used 16GB iPhone 4S is down 5% since last week at Gazelle. Other firms have posted similar single-digit declines.


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