“Antique,” “classic,” or “old” are words that do not usually have a positive connotation in the fast-paced world of technology. Although tech companies like Apple have an obvious economic incentive for releasing new devices each year, there are also real technological advancements that justify the company’s annual product refreshes. (Just take a look at the laundry list of improvements expected to make their debut with the iPhone 7 this fall.) In fact, the speed at which technological advancements are made in computing hardware practically guarantees that the devices that are released next year will outperform the models that are available today.
Even in the rare cases when the latest version of an electronic gadget doesn’t offer a substantial performance improvement over the last generation, there is still a social prestige benefit associated with owning the newest tech device. In other words, some folks will upgrade to the latest iPhone or MacBook model just to keep up with the Joneses, whether or not they actually make use of the updated device’s capabilities. Either way, whenever a customer does decide to upgrade one of their Apple products, chances are they will simultaneously get rid of their old device through Apple’s Recycling Program, especially since recycling an old device can usually get them a discount on a new product.
However, when it comes to getting their money’s worth out of older Apple products, recent secondhand market trends suggest that at least a few customers might be better off hanging on to their old iPhones or iPods, rather than cashing them in for in-store credit. There are multiple examples of Apple products that have ended up increasing, rather than decreasing in value over time. Here are five Apple products that may cause you to reconsider how long you keep your old tech devices.
1. The original Apple watch
The Apple Watch made its debut in spring of 2015. While it’s unknown how much future Apple product collectors will pay for the original Apple Watch, or the Apple Watch 2 that’s reportedly on its way, the company has already created one timepiece that has appreciated in value.
As spotted by MacRumors, an unnamed Apple distributor sold the “original Apple Watch,” a brightly-colored Quartz wristwatch emblazoned with Apple’s logo that was offered as a free promotional item to encourage customers to upgrade to the latest Mac OS in 1995. Prices ranged between $199 for a “flawless” model to $99 for a model with “minor blemishes.” While that’s not an incredibly high price for a vintage Apple product, considering that the original price of the watch was zero, $199 or $99 is a pretty impressive increase in value.
2. The iPod classic
At the same time that Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models, it quietly discontinued one of the most successful products in its history: the iPod classic. While sales of Apple’s iPod line had been steadily falling due to cannibalization by the iPhone (and the growing popularity of music streaming over digital downloads), it appears that the death knell for the iPod classic was a shortage of parts.
“We couldn’t get the parts any more,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at the WSJD Live conference in 2014, according to Engadget. “They don’t make them any more. We would have to make a whole new product…. the engineering work to do that would be massive. The number of people who wanted it is very small.”
While the number of people who still want an iPod classic may be small, they are apparently willing to pay a premium for the device. As The Guardian noted in 2014, mint condition 160GB iPod classics were being offered for as much as 670 pounds or $1,050 on Amazon, more than four times the device’s suggested retail price of $249. The 160GB capacity version was especially desirable, since at the time, the highest storage capacity currently offered in Apple’s line of digital media players was only 64GB. (That was before Apple introduced the updated iPod Touch, which is offered with up to 128GB of storage.)
3. The iPhone 6 “prototype”
While the iPhone 6 isn’t really old yet, one buyer’s recent experience demonstrates the unusually high value that even recent Apple products can acquire under certain circumstances. Proving that even Apple’s errors can be worth big bucks, a user who inexplicably received a test version of a 64GB iPhone 6 from Verizon was able to sell the device for $11,100, according to CultofMac.
The seller, who was identified as Alex Kantor by CNET, described the device to the news site.“I determined that this iPhone was a version not meant for the consumer market after seeing the software version on it,” Kantor told CNET. “I am an avid tech lover and I knew what this software was right away. It is actually called SwitchBoard and is only for internal Apple testing. Also, there is no FCC markings on the rear of the device or model number. Also, there is a red charging port which is known on prototypes.”
Although the “prototype” device garnered bids as high as $100,000 when it was originally listed on eBay, it was later removed when Apple contacted the seller. “I have been informed by Apple that this phone is not a prototype, but rather a device that went through the manufacturing process and was never completed,” wrote Kantor in a new listing. While the device wasn’t a true prototype, Kantor was still able to sell his unique iPhone 6 for $11,100.
It should be noted that former Gizmodo editor Jason Chen acquired a real iPhone 4 prototype in 2010 for $5,000, according to CNET. However, that prototype was later returned to Apple after the company alleged that the device had been stolen. Apple may have been unable or unwilling to try to block the sale of Kantor’s device since there is no question that he legally acquired it from Verizon.
4. The first-generation 2G iPhone
When Apple first released the original 8GB iPhone back in 2007, it sold for $599 with a two-year service contract from AT&T. However, if you’re looking to relive the experience of unpacking the original iPhone today, it will cost you a little bit more than $599 and two years’ worth of service payments. Actually, make that a whole lot more.
As highlighted by TUAW late in 2014, a pair of first-generation 8GB 2G iPhones was recently sold on eBay for $25,436.24. One iPhone was in its original factory sealed box, while the other “near-mint” condition iPhone is in an open box for “display purposes.” While the devices were sold together as a pair, this means that each iPhone was valued at approximately $12,500 — not too bad for a product that was seven years old.
5. Apple-1 computer
When it comes to the value appreciation of old Apple products, nothing beats the original Apple-1 computer. In 2013, an Apple-1 computer that included a letter from Steve Jobs was sold by Germany’s Auction Team Breker for $671,400. In October 2014, a new record was set when the Henry Ford Museum purchased an Apple-1 computer for $905,000 from auctioneer Bonhams. As noted by Breker, very few of the 200 Apple-1 units that were produced have survived, and all the ones that have sold at auction have commanded hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The ‘Apple-1’ was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak (‘Woz’), in the famous ‘electronics heaven’ of ‘Silicon Valley’, USA.,” reads Auction Team Breker’s item description. “In April 1976 three young entrepreneurs — Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne — founded the Apple Inc. to sell a new kit-form personal computer. Although the Apple-1 was not the earliest of the first generation PCs, it captured computer users’ interest in an unprecedented way.”
More recently, Christie’s auctioned off “The Ricketts’ Apple-1 Personal Computer,” that derives its name from the original owner. According to the auction house, “this example is the only known surviving Apple-1 documented to have been sold directly by Steve Jobs to an individual from his parents’ garage.” While the Ricketts’ Apple-1 had an auction estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, it ended up selling for just $365,000 on December 11, according to Christie’s. Still, as noted by Wozniak on his official website, the original selling price of the Apple-1 computer was only $666.66, so there’s no question that holding on to one of these ancient computers paid off for the owners in the long run.
Additional writing by Jess Bolluyt.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS