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The Best Time to Sell Your Used iPhone


It’s the worst-kept secret on the planet. We now know that Apple is announcing something on Sept. 9, and the smart money is that it will unveil a new iPhone (or possibly two new iPhones and a wearable, watch-like device).

As a result, prices for used Apple smartphones are steadily dropping — just like they always do prior to a new iPhone-palooza. In fact, according to gadget recommerce site Gazelle, over the past three years, prices for used iPhones have dropped roughly 20 percent in value during the month before a launch. NextWorth, which tracks average eBay sale prices for iPhones, says the drop is closer to 25 percent.image


If you have an aging iPhone and you want to get the most for it before you inevitably upgrade to the latest and greatest, the time to sell is now. 

Like, right now.

And yesterday would be even better.

Buy here now
Not everyone agrees that used iPhone prices are tanking. Nik Raman, co-founder of uSell, says prices on his buying marketplace may actually rise slightly before the launch, because he’s temporarily dropping the commission his site makes on each sale. But he also notes that prices traditionally drop another 15 to 20 percentage points after the announcement. So that’s a potential 40 percent drop in how much you can get for your iPhone if you wait too long.

Gazelle, NextWorth, and uSell offer 30-day price guarantees, so you can lock in a buyback price and then hold onto your old handset until you have the new one safely in hand.

Here’s a snapshot of how prices among the leading gadget resellers compared as of Tuesday afternoon. All prices are for base model 16 GB white or silver iPhones in good condition.


There are several obvious conclusions you can draw from this data.

• If you’ve got a Verizon iPhone, you’ll get more for it. The reason? They’re easier to unlock in bulk, making them more attractive to buyers who make their money selling them to overseas markets, Raman says. 

• If you’ve got a Sprint handset, you won’t get very much. That’s because Sprint phones rely on CDMA technology that isn’t widely used abroad, Raman adds.

• Want to sell an older iPhone, like the 4s? You won’t make much. And you might as well give models older than the iPhone 4 to your kids or a recycling center — most resellers won’t accept them. (Though uSell will take your iPhone 3GS off your hands for $2.40.)

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