iPhone Trade-ins: The Going Rate

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

If commercial property’s in your job description, then a smartphone is probably one of your most important business tools. The impending release of a new iPhone model (probably named the 5S) reminds us that updating technology can be a real treadmill. What are our options today?

Consider Doing Nothing

Most commercial real estate professionals don’t need to mindlessly chuck old devices and grab new ones.  That gets expensive and disruptive, and often presents the classic economic problem of diminishing returns.  Is a new phone going to send and receive more email?  Browse more web?  Run more apps? Probably not. The fact is the basic productivity gains from mobile technology are more or less at a plateau today: as long as our carrier’s data network cooperates, our full connectivity to our prospects and our business data has been established, and a new phone isn’t going to improve much on that basic benefit.

Instead, we’re looking at incremental benefits: faster screen refreshes.  More seamless switching from one app to another. Crisper photos. Is that worth shelling out hundreds for?

The $200 Middle Ground

Staying on the treadmill could be well worth it, especially if top-quality photos of space and buildings are key to your communications. So is there any way to soften the blow?

Perhaps sensing that the market for upgrades could be softening as phone owners notice this diminishing returns problem, Apple has announced it is launching a iPhone trade-in program.  The computing and device giant will offer store credit on the purchase of a new iPhone for trade-ins.  CNBC’s John Fortt tweets that the terms mean the customer must leave the store with a new contract, as the store will place the trade-in value of your old phone onto a gift card that you have to use to buy a new iPhone at that time.  Ars Technica reports that Apple will be offering $200 in trade-in value on a iPhone 4S.

Blunting some of the expense of upgrading is fine, but as long as we’re considering trade-in programs, what are the options?  As it turns out, there are several.

Options On Options

Ars Technica ran a recent post about the various hardware trade-in programs running for smartphones — not just iPhones.  It turns out that Apple is a late entrant into the secondary market on their iPhones.  Sites that accept old iPhones and other handhelds for store credit or cash include Amazon, Gazelle, Nextworth, USell, Totem and Gamestop.  The iPhone trade in numbers are in Ars’s chart below.



Options.  Markets.  A great way to reconsider our relationship with that tech treadmill.

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