After years of letting its carrier partners handle iPhone trade-ins, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally unveiled its own in-store iPhone trade-in program on Friday. Although the new trade-in program is undoubtedly a convenient service for Apple Store shoppers, it may not give customers the best deal for their old iPhones.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Apple Store will pay customers up to $280 for used iPhones in excellent condition. Although this amount will certainly help offset the cost of an upgrade, many third-party iPhone resellers offer even more money for used Apple devices.
For example, used electronics dealer Gazelle offers up to $350 for an iPhone 5 in “Flawless” condition. The Wall Street Journal also notes that Apple’s trade-in program doesn’t allow customers to trade in for an iPhone that is not on contract.
Oddly enough, Apple’s long-running recycling program offers even more for used iPhones than the Apple Store trade-in program does. A premium Apple iPhone 5 can get customers an Apple gift card worth more than $400.
It appears that Apple’s in-store trade-in program is less about giving customers the best offer for their used iPhones and more about providing them with instant gratification. Apple Store shoppers who are looking to upgrade their iPhone are not likely to return home so they can mail their old device in to Apple’s recycling program in order to get a few extra dollars.
Apple also initiated its trade-in program at an opportune time. If Apple’s next generation iPhone becomes a “must-have” item, customers who are eager to quickly get their hands on the latest smartphone model will be happy to take a slight hit on the trade-in value of their older devices.
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