Tuesday, August 21, 2012

As the iPhone 5 launch nears, the annual iPhone trade-in push begins

If you want an iPhone 5, when should your iPhone 4S? It's time. It's time to trade in your iPhone 4S, if you're going to opt out of Apple's 2011 model and in to Apple's 2012 iPhone 5.

On Monday, Gazelle began what is an annual ritual for the site. It's perfectly aware of the rumored Sept. 12 iPhone 5 launch event and the rumored Sept. 21 retail launch, and its emailing anyone who's dealt with the company in the past, telling them that now is the time to trade in their iPhone 4S (or any other iPhone, for that matter).

Here's the deal. The value of your iPhone to resellers like Gazelle is only going in one direction: down. The longer you wait, the lower the price that Gazelle (and others) offer you will go.

Their email says it all:

"Don't wait for the new iPhone to be announced. Sell your iPhone now!

"Great news! You can now sell your iPhone to Gazelle to lock in our current prices but hold on to your iPhone until October 1, 2012 (well after the rumored 9/21 launch date). With prices expected to drop once Apple announces the new iPhone, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of our current pricing without having to give up your current iPhone early.

"Sell your iPhone on gazelle.com by August 31, 2012 to take advantage of this offer. You'll then have until October 1, 2012 to send it to Gazelle and complete the sale. Prices may decline at any time based on market conditions so visit gazelle.com today to sell your iPhone and take advantage of this offer."

The best part is that you lock in a price now, and assuming you don't drop / immerse / otherwise damage your iPhone between now and when you ship it to Gazelle, you're assured that as prices drop, yours won't drop with them.

Here's the link that Gazelle provides in its email.

In terms of estimated values, Gazelle is currently offering the following:
  • A flawless 16GB AT&T iPhone 4S will get you $290
  • A flawless 16GB Verizon iPhone 4S will get you $280
  • A flawless 16GB Sprint iPhone 4S will get you $280
  • A flawless 16GB iPhone 4S on another carrier (e.g., a regional carrier such as C Spire) will getyou $163 (ouch)
As to why the AT&T version is priced higher than Verizon and Sprint, when Verizon is the No. 1 wireless carrier in the U.S., it's because the current iPhone supports the sort-of 4G on AT&T's HSPA+ network, and only 3G on Verizon and Sprint's CDMA networks.

All this will change when the iPhone 5 arrives, assuming it sports the 4G LTE technology it's supposed to be carrying. You have to know that Verizon, for one, is really pushing Apple to make that happen.

Sprint, on the other hand, only now has started to test its LTE service in very limited areas of the country, but we'd still expect it to want the iPhone to support LTE, as its 4G WiMax service is destined for the scrap heap.

Other resellers such as eBay Instant Sale will start their campaigns soon, as well.  Gazelle is just the first reseller that sent us our "reminder" email. 

So the question of when to trade your iPhone in is answered as follows: now, already.

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