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Report: Apple’s iPhone trade-in program begins this week

According to a report on Apple enthusiast site 9to5Mac, Apple is expected to kick off the “iPhone Reuse and Recycle Program” on Friday, August 30 at select Apple stores around the United States. Launching on a larger scale prior to the release of the new iPhone in September, current iPhone owners will be able to take their current Apple smartphone into the store and receive a gift card that can be applied to the purchase of a new iPhone. However, the new iPhone must be under contract with a major carrier and the activation must take place within the store.

The value of the trade-in will be determined by the Apple Store representative helping the customer. The reps will be judging criteria such as any visible damage to the screen or case, the quality of the display, the responsiveness of the Home button, any engravings on the phone that could reduce resale value, any damage caused by water or another liquid and the general responsiveness when turning on the phone as well as using it normally. Assuming the customer agrees to the proposed value of the old iPhone as well as a set of terms and conditions, the transaction can proceed. 

iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S trade-in

After being given an opportunity to back up all data on the old iPhone, a gift card is provided to the customer. However, that gift card can only be used towards the purchase price of a new iPhone, not on other products sold in the Apple store. However, that credit could be applied to the cost of an early termination fee if the customer is switching carriers during the transaction. According to program details, the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5 are all eligible for the trade-in offer. While functional iPhones will likely be resold, all non-functional iPhones will be recycled by a company called Brightstar. The SIM card in the old iPhone will be returned to the customer.

As reported by Techcrunch this week, trade-in value for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S will likely be between $120 to $200 while the iPhone 5 in excellent condition could fetch a trade-in value in the $250 range. However, third party trade-in sites like Gazelle and NextWorth are currently offering higher trade-in values for the iPhone 5. That being said, trade-in value on those sites will drop as more consumers start switching from the iPhone 5 to the newly announced iPhone next month. When supply of the iPhone 5 rises significantly, trade-in value will fall.

One potential issue that Apple will face during launch week of the new iPhone is that the trade-in program could significantly increase the amount of time people spend in the store swapping out their old iPhone for a new model. Employees will have to spend extra time to evaluate each model carefully and consumers may simply reject the trade-in value or attempt to haggle over the price. Since many Apple stores already have long lines on launch day, the trade-in program could increase the frustration of customers waiting in line for the new Apple smartphone.