Everything You Need to Know About Your iPhone’s Trade-in Value

Your iPhone is a lot like your car. The second you start using it (or even put your hands on it) it’s going to depreciate. While it’s true that you’re never going to sell your used iPhone for the same price as a brand new phone, you can still do a few things to ensure that, when the times comes to sell or trade-in your iPhone, that you get as much money as you can for it.

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The value of your iPhone can range wildly depending on many factors. While the price you may fetch can sometimes be unclear, one thing is for certain—shop around, do your research, and make sure you understand the value of what you hold in your hands. With that said, you might wonder what can affect the value of your iPhone trade-in.

Age & Model of iPhone

The primary contributor to the value (or lack of value) of your iPhone is its age and model. Simply put, the newer your iPhone is, the more money it’ll get when it’s sold or traded in. While your old iPhone 6 might get you a little bit of cash back, there’s a good chance that most companies won’t offer anything for an older iPhone such as the iPhone 4. It’s best to trade in your iPhone as soon as you get a new one—the longer you wait the less your old iPhone will be worth.

Furthermore, if you have a relatively recent model iPhone that you’re thinking of trading in, consider doing so before the new iPhones are launched. New iPhone announcementstypically occur in September and are released shortly after. The last thing you want is for your phone’s value to be cut drastically because it’s suddenly 2 generations old rather than 1 generation. Timing is key when getting the most out of your iPhone trade-in.

Storage Space

Storage space is a big deal now that we shoot our video in 4k resolution and take high-resolution photographs every single day. While it may seem like a thrifty decision to go with an iPhone with smaller storage, it’s going to lose its value much faster than the same model of iPhone with a larger storage capacity.

Even if you may not be able to afford the largest storage option, consider finding the middle ground, such as a 64GB model. You’ll find yourself managing your storage less, and find that the trade-in value of that iPhone will be, on average, 10% more than the lesser tier option.

Cosmetic Condition

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The cosmetic condition of your iPhone may be the most important factor in your iPhone’s value other than its age and model. What is “cosmetic condition”? It’s the culmination of the wear and tear on your iPhone throughout your ownership. We all know that screens can crack, metal frames can dent or scratch, and core components can begin to fail due to things like sudden falls or liquid damage. However, be prepared for the depreciation every time your iPhone takes a hit or collects a new scratch.

Most trade-in programs will ask you to describe your iPhone’s cosmetic condition based on a few categories. For instance, the popular iPhone buyback program, Buyback Boss, has 6 to choose from:

Brand New: This is an iPhone that’s never been used before, it’s practically out-of-the-box new.

Mint: If your iPhone is in mint condition, it means it has virtually no signs of use. More than likely, if you’re touting a mint condition iPhone, then you’ve kept it in a sturdy, enclosed iPhone case its entire life. Not only does your iPhone look great, but it also has to have a fully functioning battery with 80% maximum capacity.

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Used: For most of us, we’d describe our iPhone as “used”. We kept our iPhone in its case and used it every day, so it has some minor signs of wear. However, there are no glaring cosmetic issues and the battery is still in great shape (80% maximum health).

Fair: A lot of us may throw caution to the wind and keep our iPhone caseless. However, shoving your iPhone into your pocket will cause exponential problems over the years—sand and dirt will collect in your pockets from that Saturday hike or that vacation to the beach. And, after a while, your iPhone will sport some pretty nasty scratches, dents, and scuffs from being exposed.

Damaged: A damaged iPhone is one that has cracked glass but no actual LED damage. It can also have a few broken components, like the home button or the headphone jack. All in all, a “damaged” iPhone is one that’s on its last leg.

Broken: For an iPhone to be considered “broken” it has to have some serious issues that get in the way of it functioning as a smartphone. If the connectivity of the iPhone is broken (wifi or cellular), the iPhone is disabled or locked, or the iPhone doesn’t even power on, then you can consider your iPhone “broken”.

How Can I Ensure My iPhone Retains its Value?

When something goes with you everywhere, it’s understandably hard to protect it from the normal wear and tear of everyday life. Your iPhone is no exception—there’s no iPhone owner out there that hasn’t accidentally dropped their phone. And even if your myriad of falls never led to a full-on cracked screen, they more than likely did some infinitesimal damage to the iPhone. Since it’s so easy to bang up your iPhone, it’s best to make sure you do everything you can to protect its cosmetic condition, which increases your iPhone’s value when it’s ready to trade-in.

Invest in a Real Case

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Silicon sleeves may be a cheap and easy solution to make you feel at ease about the fate of your iPhone. However, those types of flimsy cases aren’t going to do your iPhone any favors when it comes time to protect your device from damage.

Instead, you’ll want to invest in a hardier, all-encompassing protective case. The two most popular case manufacturers are Otterbox and Lifeproof. Not only do these companies build sturdy, cutting-edge iPhone cases, but they stand behind their claims with a warranty should your iPhone incur any damage while in their case.

With a heavy-duty case, you can rest easy knowing that your iPhone will come out of it at the end of its time with you looking almost new. And that translates to higher trade-in value.

Don’t Wait Too Long

The longer you wait, the more defunct your iPhone is going to become. The sad truth is; technology moves at a fever pitch. If your iPhone is just 2 generations old, it’s already going to fetch you much less money than one that’s currently “last-gen”.

It’s best to trade your iPhone in while it’s still a relevant contender in the market. It’s suggested that you make the trade before your iPhone is older than 3rd gen—anything older than that will net you a negligible return.

Keep the Battery Healthy

One often-overlooked facet of your iPhone’s value is in the health of its battery. Most iPhone buyback programs want your maximum battery health to be at 80% or more, meaning that the lithium-ion battery inside your iPhone still has plenty of life left.

Here’s how you can check your battery health:

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  • Navigate to your “Settings” on your iPhone
  • Scroll down and tap on “Battery”
  • On the “Battery” screen, tap on “Battery Health”

The “Battery Health” screen will tell you your battery’s “Maximum Capacity”, which is essentially the percentage of remaining life. A brand new iPhone should have a maximum capacity of 100%.

It’s suggested that to extend the life of your battery, you never let your iPhone completely lose its charge. Beyond that, battery experts agree that charging your battery at 70% is much better than charging it at 30%. It may seem counterintuitive, but lithium-ion batteries do not overcharge and, when they’re charged from a higher power level, they deplete fewer of their overall charge cycles.

Your iPhone isn’t impervious to temperature, either. Sustained temperatures over 113 degrees Fahrenheit will severely impact your iPhone battery, shortening its life or even heating it to the point of catastrophic failure. You may ask yourself; what could reach those high temperatures? Leaving your iPhone in your car on even a 70-degree day will, so always remember to bring your iPhone in with you after a trip to the store.

How Can I Sell My iPhone?

There are many ways to sell your iPhone. Typically, people will either sell their iPhone themselves using an online service like eBay or Craigslist, trade-in their phone via their carrier, or participate in a buyback program. Each option has its benefits, depending on what you’re looking for.

Sell Your iPhone Yourself

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Be it locally on Craigslist or globally via eBay, you’re always welcome to sell your iPhone the old fashioned way. You may get more money this way, but it can be a hit-or-miss approach. Most important is to identify and avoid common scams, which are prolific on both platforms. If you have the time to filter through the half-committed buyers that populate these platforms to find the one that’ll pay a good price for your iPhone then have at it!

Carrier Trade-in

Just like your old car at the dealership, your carrier of choice will take your old iPhone and exchange it for credit on your bill. This can be an easy way of incorporating the sale of your iPhone directly with the upgrading to a new one. Just bear in mind that carriers, like dealerships, don’t have the kinds of incentives to give you a great price for your iPhone. They know you’re using them for the convenience and that comes at a price.

Buyback Programs

You might have heard of buyback programs before—the top programs like Gazelle and Buyback Boss have become a popular way to trade in your old device for cash. Best of all, it lets you sell your device with little effort but at a competitive rate. Most buyback websites feature an easy questionnaire that will give you an instant quote for your iPhone—no going into your carrier’s store and getting the runaround. If you like the quote, you’ll also get a pre-paid label to send your iPhone out.

The Value of Your iPhone is in Your Hands

At the end of the day, remember that only you can control the value of your iPhone. When you’re ready to sell or trade-in your iPhone make sure you shop around to figure out what the best option is for you, be it the old fashioned Craigslist meet-up in the police station parking lot, or through the mail via a buyback program.

Remember to keep your iPhone in good shape—invest in a decent phone case, don’t allow your iPhone to get too old before you decide to trade it in for a new one, and consider investing in a higher storage iPhone so it retains a little more of its value down the road.