Apple’s in-store iPhone trade-in program launched Friday in the U.S. The program works similar to traditional buyback programs: Customers can trade in their old iPhones for credit towards a new model in store. The amount depends on the device’s age and condition.
The retail giant’s trade-in deal starts on Friday and runs through Monday, Sept. 2. Retailers Best Buy, Target and RadioShack currently offer buyback programs, and some wireless carriers do as well.
Online sites Gazelle and NextWorth pay cash for phones, and even Apple had already quietly joined in with the little-advertised Recycle program on its Apple.com website. Old iPhones, depending upon the model, can garner from $150 to $350. You can get even more for them if you sell on eBay or Craigslist.
As the NBC News reports, Best Buy is offering “at least 50 percent off” the standard purchase price of both 16GB and 32GB iPhone 5s to customers bringing in their older models to trade in.
Customers purchasing a $199, 16GB iPhone 5 after trading in an iPhone 4 or 4S will receive a “guaranteed minimum $100 trade-in credit,” dropping the price to $99. Those opting for the $299, 32GB version get at least $150 knocked off the price when they activate their new phone, meaning they’ll be paying $149 for the handset.
The hitch—customers will have to sign two-year contracts with either AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon to take advantage of the deal.
“iPhones hold great value. So, Apple Retail Stores are launching a new program to assist customers who wish to bring in their previous-generation iPhone for reuse or recycling,” an Apple rep said in a statement.
“In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone.”
While the trade-in begins Friday, Apple employees told 9to5Mac that you’ll need to purchase a new 5S in order to get the refund. Your old phone must also be currently activated and within a cell phone contract.
Analysts and websites had been expecting the move at the company’s Apple Stores, timed to coincide with the release of the newest iPhone models. So it is not that surprising that Apple — which already has an online recycling program that lets consumers trade their iPhone for credit on an Apple gift card — would expand into store trades, said Todd Day, senior industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan.
“If you look at Apple’s overall business model, it’s not just about the devices but the overall universe,” he said. Offering a competitive trade-in program helps ensure those customers stick around, particularly if they receive a gift card instead of cash, as is the case with Apple’s existing online program.
There’s plenty of competition in the field. “Trade-in programs for smartphones have probably become the biggest, hottest area of smartphone transactions this year,” said Eddie Hold, vice president of connected intelligence for research firm NPD Group.
Apple is expected to host an event on Sept. 10 to unveil its next iPhone. Along with an operating system upgrade, rumors suggest the phone will feature fingerprint authentication.