Want the next iPhone? Here's how to sell your old one

Ready for Apple's latest and greatest iPhone? Tech columnist Jennifer Jolly has tips on what to do with your old device.

It happens every September like clockwork. Apple unveils a new smartphone, marking the unofficial start of the fall gadget season, and the official start of people everyone wanting the newest hottest handset.

Before you fork over fistfuls of hard earned cash for the next new thing — here’s how to make bank on what you already have lying around:

Sell it to Apple!

Apple’s new iPhone trade-up program offers store gift cards for iPhone 4’s or newer models. Apple’s flat rates are more static than other trade-in options, which means you won’t likely see them shift much from day to day or week to week. However, the current prices for the iPhone 6 and later are some of the best around, with Apple offering as much as a $250 gift card for an iPhone 6 Plus in great condition. That’s less money than some of the other services, as you’ll read here in a second, but again, many other prices will drop dramatically over the next few days. (The company only accepts iPhones from whatever the previous generations might be though, so I’m out of luck with my 6S until the 7 arrives.)

Sell it to a reseller!

Resellers such as Glyde and Gazelle are great picks again this year too. You go online and answer a few questions about what you have, they estimate how much they’ll pay you for it and send a box for you to mail it in.

The last time I checked, Glyde offered $297 for a 64GB iPhone 6 in great condition. The site also warned that it expects prices to drop at least 15% by the time the new iPhone 7 comes out. That’s an issue across the board with many of these services if you don’t have another phone to use between now and getting the new one.

Gazelle - Of all the bulk resellers, Gazelle is the most popular, and we’ve talked about it many times here before. Gazelle’s known for great trade-in values and fast payment turnaround times. All you have to do is select the phone, carrier, storage size, and condition from the easy-to-use trade-in tool and then wait for your pre-paid shipping box to arrive. Then, once you have your phone packed up, send it to Gazelle and wait for the cash to roll in. If you don’t want to worry about waiting for your phone to sell elsewhere or making a listing on an auction site, Gazelle is the ultimate no-brainer.

If you have an iPhone 6s in decent condition, you can score hundreds of dollars for it. The exact amount will vary depending on the carrier and storage size — for example, a 16GB iPhone 6s on Verizon is worth $242 in excellent condition, but that same phone on T-Mobile is worth $238 — but as long as you’ve kept your phone in good shape, you can expect a solid lump of cash for it. If you have time to do some comparison shopping, double check the prices with Glyde, and others such as Nextworth, which runs a similar trade-in system, and see which one offers the most cash at the moment.

uSell - You might not have heard of uSell, but if you’re determined to get the most for your phone you should definitely be considering it as an option. Unlike most other trade-in sites, uSell is actually a hub for many different resellers to attempt to outbid each other for your iPhone. These companies post their best offers on the site, and uSell organizes and matches you with whichever one is promising the best payout. Because of the competitive nature of the site, uSell’s prices can often exceed those on Gazelle and elsewhere, if only by a few bucks.

Amazon - The world’s largest retailer got into the trade-in game a handful of years ago, and today it’s one of the most popular options. To get started, simply search for the iPhone model you own and see what prices are being offered. Chances are, the value will be similar to what is being offered elsewhere, but because Amazon also takes into account the color of your device, you might discover that your Rose Gold iPhone is worth a tad bit more than the Silver model with the same specs.

Once you accept the trade-in offer, you can print a pre-paid shipping label and send the device out at your earliest convenience. The really nice thing about Amazon’s program is that once you lock in your trade-in price you have a full 30 days before Amazon expects it to arrive at their doorstep, which means you can use your phone for those precious couple of weeks until your brand new iPhone shows up.

Walmart - If you hadn’t heard, Walmart is all about trade-ins these days, and the iPhone is no exception. You can browse the values for used iPhones on the Walmart site and see exactly how much they’re willing to pay you for your phone. Unlike most other trade-in options, Walmart’s criteria for a trade-in seem much more laid back, with only two quality options — either working or not — and no questions about the color of the device itself. You can trade in either online or in-store, but the one major drawback here is that you are paid in a Walmart gift card, rather than cash, which means you’ll have to buy your new iPhone from Walmart as well.

Sell it yourself!

If you’re no stranger to the likes of eBay and Craigslist, you might be able to get an even bigger payout than you could at any resale site or store. eBay specifically can be a great place to get lucky with bidders trying to outdo each other, but there’s also a very real risk of a bidder not paying for the phone once they’ve won an auction. That’s a risk for sure, but the reward is a potentially bigger bump in your bank account if it pans out.

As for Craigslist, there are some who absolutely love it, and if you list an iPhone you’re going to get plenty of attention. As always, try to price your device in line with what the resellers are offering to make sure you don’t get ripped off, and always make your exchange in a public place so you don’t fall victim to some punk trying to run off with your smartphone.

Don’t forget to back it up and erase your info

No matter how you choose to sell your phone, you should always keep your privacy and security top of mind, and that means wiping your device so that none of your personal info can be salvaged by the buyer. Here’s how to do it:

First, sign out of your iCloud account by going into the Settings menu, selecting iCloud, and then tapping Sign Out. If you’re on an older iPhone which is still running iOS 7, you’ll tap Delete Account instead.

Once that’s taken care of, go back into your Settings menu and select General, then Reset, and then tap Erase All Content and Settings. Verify your decision and then wait for your phone to wipe itself and reboot.

The last step before parting ways with your iPhone is to remove the SIM card, which is located in a small slide-out panel on the side of the device. Find the SIM card slot and open it by inserting the SIM card removal tool into the small hole. If you don’t have a SIM card tool, a paperclip, thread end of a small needle (the more blunt part), or even an earring post (yep, just did it) work well too. Once the slot slides open, just remove the small card inside and close the SIM door again.

Now it should be all ready for the next owner to make it their own!

When all else fails, recycle responsibly.

If your old iPhone isn’t worth the price of someone even paying postage for it, the Apple Renew program is an easy way to dispose of it securely and responsibly. Drop it off at an Apple store or ship it in — they make sure your personal data is destroyed — and then hand it off to Liam. According to Apple, Liam’s a freaky-awesome futuristic “line of robots than can disassemble an iPhone every 11 seconds.” It can also sift, sort, and save more high-quality components than previous methods, recycling more precious materials than ever before.

While squirreling away old gadgets might just be a distant cousin to real hoarding — not serious enough yet to have its own reality TV show — there’s no reason to sit on a mountain of old devices.

If you have questions, be sure to send us a note or use the comments below.

KGW


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