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The When, Where, and How of selling your old iPhone

iphone 4 for saleThe time has come to purge yourself of that old iPhone in preparation of an upgrade. There are more than a few sites willing to take the soon-to-be antiquated model off your hands, but where do you turn? And what are the prices out there. Here’s a quick guide so you can order that new iPhone—whatever it may be—without too much buyer’s guilt.

When

The problem with this particular iPhone launch is that you aren’t guaranteed to need an upgrade—or want one just yet. Will there be enough that’s different about the 4S to justify upgrading from the 4? Is the 5 going to launch next month and you’d rather hold out? Sorry but those answers will have to wait until tomorrow.

Traditionally, however, we can tell you that today (the day before the next-gen model is announced) is typically the best day to sell your old iPhone. Once the iPhone whatever is announced tomorrow, retail value of your old model is guaranteed to drop. Be sure to pick up a cheap replacement for now until you can actually get your hands on the next iPhone, because you’re unlikely to be taking one home tomorrow.

You’ll still be able to sell your old iPhone after tomorrow, but you’ll come closer to breaking even after your new purchase if you decide to sell today. Unfortunately since Apple has been playing with our emotions and making things as confusing as possible, selling your current handset today means you’re taking a leap of faith here. But if you’re willing to, here are your best bets for the highest return on investment.

Where

Old favorites like eBay and Craigslist work, as long as you make sure to research how much you should be selling your old iPhone for. There are also a few electronics resale sites that specifically cater to this type of situation:

  • NextWorth provides a value estimator as well as a guarantee that you can get $250 for a 16-32GB AT&T iPhone 4 before tomorrow. Some retail stores actually have NextWorth assistance so you don’t have to go about the process online.
  • Gazelle is offering $250 for “flawless” iPhone 4s, or $169 if there are a few scratches.
  • BuyMyTronics will calculate how much your iPhone is worth based on its condition as well as what accessories you can include with it. Prices also vary by provider.
  • This is just the tip of the iceberg. Cash For iPhones, iPhones Into Cash, Recellular, and Cash Your Tech are all in the electronics resale business.
  • Instant sale by eBay remains you best bet, given the immense amount of eyes that will get a look at your iPhone. Craigslist also has its benefits: Dealing in cash and being able to sell and get your money the same day is a definite bonus.

How much can I get for my iPhone 4?

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the best prices we saw on the most popular sites for reselling your old iPhone.

Ebay Instant Sale: iPhone 4s (used) cash in for up to $280; white models go for more.

Craigslist: We saw iPhone 4s listed for as much as $500. Also spotted a couple of wanted ads for the iPhone 4 from people willing to pay $350-400.

NextWorth: $250 (Verizon models seem to net a little less, generally between $165-$172).

Gazelle: An AT&T iPhone 4 16GB in good condition will get you $191, and a flawless model brings in $264. The 32GB is (respectively) $206 or $284. The Verizon models go for a little less, ranging between $150 and $238, depending on size.

What about my iPhone 3GS?

If you’ve really been waiting and holding onto that iPhone 3GS, this is still definitely the time to sell.

Ebay Instant Sale: The 3GS sells for between $168 and $216.75.

Craigslist: We saw ads for anywhere between $120 and $200.

NextWorth: Between $121.11-$144.

Gazelle: Flawless 3GS models can get you anywhere between $147 and $206. For the “good” units out there, you can take home $116-$158.