Now is the Best Time to Trade in Your Phone
That Apple Time of Year
Every September Apple fanboys swarm to San Francisco for the latest iPhone event, and well, actually it feels like everyone is watching what's going on this year. It's an annual mega-conference with live-streaming available on a dozen online websites and coverage that starts months in advance as rumors pile up around America's favorite line of smartphones.
If you're into devices at all, then you've probably heard the latest rumors about how the next iPhone might actually be iPhones. Could it be that there will actually be multiple sizes, both larger than the current iPhone 5/5c/5s to take on the larger phablets from Samsung and LG? Or, perhaps there will be an evolution with how to use the fingerprint sensor and Siri to transform the user experience? Will it be thinner and lighter even though they're running out of room to do either?
It's always fascinating, and this year will be no exception. Android handsets have finally caught up to the point that professional users are migrating in small numbers to the latest Galaxy, HTC, or G line of phones. The Kitkat OS has made cheap Android phones quicker and more usable while keeping the low price points to undercut the 5c. And smartwatches, while in their infancy, are popping up from different manufacturers to early adopters before Apple even gets into the game.
But maybe most importantly, the few weeks before the Apple unveiling are the best time to lock in trade-in pricing for your current line of gadgets.
Where to Trade-In
Thankfully, you have a lot of options for trading in your phones:
- Brick and mortar stores. While you rarely get the best pricing from a brick and mortar store, you often do get great pricing on an outgoing Apple handset. So if you've been thinking about upgrading to an iPhone 5c or 5s, start at Best Buy or Walmart where they've torpedoed pricing on the current generation models in anticipating of the iPhone 6. If you're not interested in a larger phone, which all rumors point to, then this may be your best bet. You'll even see competing handsets offered on sale to lock in your business before the Apple event.
- Online storefronts. The big name for iDevice trade-ins is Gazelle and they have not been shy about how you should be getting a quote for your trade-in now. The reason being that you can lock in a trade-in price now and then just send in your current device after you go out and buy the new iPhone. You also have an option with Amazon trade-ins which are similarly easy to send in. The price you get will depend on the condition of your device, so you'll want to do some polishing where necessary to get the most bang for your buck.
- Craigslist. I don't recommend that you try to sell a current generation device on Craigslist. Unfortunately, a lot of the smartphones sold on here are stolen or damaged devices, and you don't want to have to deal with the hassle of scammers posing as buyers or undercover police asking about your device.
- Ebay. Not as bad as Craigslist, but again, it's a lot of work. Gazelle and Amazon are great because they make it easy for you to trade in your device. You're busy, and your time is worth more than a potential extra $10 by selling on your own.
Trade-In Values and How They Work
As I mentioned above, pricing fluctuates according to the time and condition of the device in question. If you wait until after the unveiling of the iPhone then values will go down because there will be a flood of trade-ins at that time. Not to mention that assuming that the new iPhone/s are going to be better in a few ways, your device will feel less valuable and you definitely won't make as much if you're selling on your own.
The following pricing is from Gazelle for some popular smartphones:
iPhone 5s: Flawless: $315 Good: $300 Broken: $110
Galaxy Note 3: Flawless: $230 Good: $210 Broken: $65
iPhone 5: Flawless: $195 Good: $185 Broken: $70
Motorola Moto X: Flawless: $95 Good: $85 Broken: $0
iPhone 4s: Flawless: $75 Good: $65 Broken: $30
As you can see, if you've somehow managed to keep your handset flawless (if it's been in a Lifeproof case since day 1) then you're due an extra $10-20 across the board. If you haven't been using a high quality case since early on, your handset will most likely fall into the Good category. Having said that, being able to get $95 for a Moto X is surprisingly high and the $300 for an iPhone 5s is good enough to break a contract in some cases (if you're on a contract).
Remember when you're purchasing a phone that at some point you're going to be trading it in, so popular models will make you money down the road. And to this point, iPhones hold their value much better than competing devices from Samsung, HTC, Nokia, etc.
Are you planning on trading in a device?
Are you planning on trading in a device?
What About the New iPhone?
While you can spend a whole week dissecting the latest iPhone rumors, I'll do my best to touch on the major ones, and leave it to you to explore elsewhere. From the very trusted and reliable guys at Macrumors.com, here's what they're expecting:
Apple's 2014 iPhone is expected to debut on September 9. It will include a larger, redesigned form factor with 4.7" and 5.5" diagonal screens. The 4.7" model will be launch first around September, with the 5.5" model following later.
- Release Date: September 2014
- Larger screen: 4.7" (perhaps 1704x960 pixels) and 5.5"
- Sapphire crystal screen
- Faster and more efficient A8 chip
Basically, if you like your iPhone, you're probably going to like the newest version. If you've wanted a big screen iPhone like myself, you're probably going to like the new iPhone.
Rumored iPhone 6
iPhone 6 Rumors
Don't Forget Your Tablet
At the same time as you're thinking about your smartphone needs, it's also a good time to do the same with your tablet, if you have one. While it's uncommon for Apple to mix their iPhone event with the iPad event, this does not preclude them from announcing new pricing or a slight specs upgrade to the existing iPad Air or iPad Mini Retina. If you've got an older generation iDevice, then mosey on over to Gazelle.com and see how much you can get for your device. If it's an Android device or even a Windows tablet, then Amazon is going to be a better fit.
With Apple's best sale going on right now, as well as promotional pricing at big box stores like Target and Walmart, you can get a new iPad or competing tablet at low prices right now. Especially if you're not a fan of Black Friday madness, these prices are probably as good as they are going to get.
Timing is Everything
When it comes to personal finance and living for the deal, timing is everything. As you may have noticed in one of my other posts, there was an unprecedented deal on a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Pro Tablet 12.2", and if you are in the market for a large tablet, you honestly can't beat the deal.
Likewise, if you've been waiting for the right time to trade in your current smartphone, now is the time. Shop around for the best pricing at Gazelle and Amazon, and stop by a big box store if you're in the market for a current generation device. Taking action now can end up saving you hundreds of dollars that is like found money. Do it; do it now.
I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.
I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.
Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.
PS. I've also started writing on my own site: dealforaliving.com.