How do iPhone trade-in programs work?
September 10, 2013 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I have a relatively-new iPhone 5 that I'm thinking of selling or trading in. It all seems a bit confusing, though, so please explain to me how this works.

I have a 16GB iPhone 5 that I bought last December for work. Mrs. Zooropa just got an HTC One Android phone, and I have to admit, I really like it and the Samsung Galaxy S4 we saw the other day at Costco. I used to be an Android guy, and am really considering switching back.

My iPhone 5 is in almost perfect condition (I've had it in an Otter case for almost the entire time). How do trade-in programs work? We're on Verizon, and the next available upgrade is about 18 months away.

People have told me about Gazelle, so I went to the site. According to the estimate I did online, Gazelle is saying I could get $315-330 for the phone. Does that mean I will get $315-330 in cash? What about my current Verizon contract? Do I have to buy an unlocked phone or can I switch over my existing number and account?

I've also read that Apple has a new trade-in program where you walk in to an Apple Store, give them your phone, get a store credit, and walk out with a new phone. Is this accurate?

As you can tell, I'm confused. Any help clearing up the confusion would be gratefully appreciated.
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't help with the contract details, but as far as Gazelle goes, you register on their site, they ship you a box, you pack the box and send it back, and then you receive a check (I think there may have been an option to use Paypal or direct deposit, I don't remember).

I sold my old iPhone 4 to them a few months back, and the experience was about as simple as it gets.
posted by brentajones at 3:16 PM on September 10, 2013

Generally trading in does not account for your contract, so you will need to buy another Verizon phone to use your existing service, unless you cancel it and pay the ETF.

Also if you were looking at the price for the Galaxy S4 at Costco, most likely that was with a new contract. You'll probably have to pay $700 (Amazon price) for it if you have an existing contract.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:36 PM on September 10, 2013

Response by poster: The contract part is the crux of where my confusion lies. Mrs. Zooropa has made it clear that the only way I can upgrade now is if it doesn't cost anything.

If I were going to go with a new iPhone, it looks like the Apple trade-in program blob linked to would work best. Quoting the article, "You can trade in on-contract iPhones, but you’ll still have to deal with whatever cost the carrier assigns the new iPhone based on where you are in your contract."

If I'm understanding that right, it means if Apple offers me $200 for my iphone 5 -- and the new iPhone 5S cost $199 on contract -- then I pay nothing and my Verizon contract starts over again. Right?

I'd still like to consider switching back to Android, but it can't be cost-prohibitive.
posted by zooropa at 3:36 PM on September 10, 2013

Confirming what brentajones said on Gazelle: you can get a check or PayPal. You can also choose an Amazon gift card as your payment option and they'll give you a slightly better price with that. You can print a label from Gazelle and use your own box so you don't have to wait to have a box mailed. Then once they get your device, they check it out and send your payment. It just takes a few days.
posted by dayintoday at 3:38 PM on September 10, 2013

If I'm understanding that right, it means if Apple offers me $200 for my iphone 5 -- and the new iPhone 5S cost $199 on contract

The new iPhone 5S costs $199 on a new contract. You will need to pay full retail price if you are not eligible for an upgrade.
posted by kindall at 3:40 PM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]'re only elegible for the discounted ($200) price with a NEW when your current one is up.
another site to check is swappa (it's like ebay for phones, but more reputable) you could sell your current phone there and get whatever phone you like...the galaxy s4 is going to be a bit more than 200, but considerably less than the off-contract price of ~600-700
posted by sexyrobot at 3:41 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

also ting is currently offering a 25% ETF (early (contract) termination fee) buyout (up to $75) if you're switching from another carrier...if you're in an area with good sprint service (they use the sprint network) and you don't use a bunch of mobile data (ie are mostly on wifi for data) then you can save a FORTUNE (they only charge for what you actually use...see their pricing chart) can buy a new device from them or bring over (almost) any sprint phone (like, from swappa)...they don't have contracts so phones are full ($$$) price, but you make it up on your service is usually $25-35/ break it down:

galaxy note 2 (my phone...LOVE IT!!!) $600+24mos @ 30/mo= $1320

GN2 (contract price) $200 + 24mos @ ~90/mo= $2360

or a savings of ~ $1000...YMMV...check them out, look at your bill/phone and find out what amount of service you actually use, do the math.

(as an aside...carriers pay the phone manufacturers a part of the actual price of the phone and offer you a discount (with contract) knowing they will make it up, and more (ie the $1000 i mentioned) over the life of your 2-year contract, more if you don't upgrade after the 2 years)
posted by sexyrobot at 3:59 PM on September 10, 2013

i just had a great experience with gazelle. got an amazon giftcard from them for the value of my (old model) iphone 2 days after i sent it to them. i had even undervalued the phone, and they sent me more money than i expected (what company does that?!?!!). so i was very pleased.

if you are out of contract with your carrier i would do this. if you are not, and are willing to pay 100% of the cost for a new phone, go for it. that's what will happen with verizon.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:28 PM on September 10, 2013

Mrs. Zooropa has made it clear that the only way I can upgrade now is if it doesn't cost anything.

There is no way to get a brand new phone and have it not cost anything.
posted by Librarypt at 4:38 PM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Don't know about Gazelle, but you have three alternatives as far as a different phone. One, you can buy an unlocked used one. Two, you can go to Samsung and buy an unlocked developer version for use on Verizon for $649, and three, if you are on a family plan with Verizon, you could add another line for $10 per month while buying the discounted phone for around $150. Once you get home (or have the phone shipped) you simply switch the phone to your old line. You would then be paying discounted contract rate plus $240 over the course of 24 months. Cheaper than paying full price. If the sale price of the old phone is around $350 you would be breakeven.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:18 PM on September 10, 2013

I have successfully switched out my (Galaxy Nexus) phone for another (Galaxy S3) phone on Verizon with no fee whatsoever. This was done in January 2013. I purchased phone 2 on eBay when phone 1 died due to my mishandling (dropped it in the ocean). My phone was refurbished, purchased from a seller with solid reviews, and was like new.

Whatever route you go - be sure to purchase a phone that is Verizon-compatible.
Verizon does not use the GSM standard so an 'unlocked' phone is not what you want. Normally, 'unlocked' phones are designed to be usable on GSM networks. Verizon phones are (for the moment) still using the CDMA standard.

My suggestion is to confirm your plan is possible in-store with a human being before you purchase. I believe you must go to a store to activate the new phone on the network anyway (at least they told me I did).

If you are comfortable selling your existing iPhone on eBay, it will likely fetch the best resale price there, as well. Check the completed listings for an idea of what you can get for it. Browsing the completed listings, I think you could do this transaction (buy and sell on eBay) without losing too much, if you are willing to go the manufacturer-refurbished route. Your used Verizon iPhone 5, 16GB goes for about $450-$480. The Galaxy S4 goes for about $450-$500 (refurbished).
posted by xiaolongbao at 6:03 PM on September 10, 2013

I'm eligible for an upgrade and I plan on using Amazon's trade-in program for my 4S. They're currently offering up to $350 for a 16gb Verizon iPhone 5. You get it as an Amazon gift card (which is fine by me, I have Prime and I spend.. way too much money on Amazon) and it seems relatively hassle-free.

I sold my 3GS on eBay last time and I will never, ever do that again. I got a good price for it in the end, but I also had to deal with the stress of an attempted scam and the potential loss of the money AND the phone.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:18 AM on September 11, 2013

« Older Dam shower!   |   How do I cope with living alone? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.