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What to do with your old iPhone

Joel Mathis | Sept. 3, 2014
We're just days away from Apple's next media event, which will in all likelihood introduce the company's next iPhone. While we may spend the week fantasizing over potential new features, there are some practical issues to take into account, too: What are you going to do with your old phone?

We're just days away from Apple's next media event, which will in all likelihood introduce the company's next iPhone. While we may spend the week fantasizing over potential new features, there are some practical issues to take into account, too: What are you going to do with your old phone?

You've got plenty of options. Here are a few worth considering.

Keep it

Why not turn that old iPhone into a slightly used, slightly-thicker iPod touch? That old phone of yours can still connect to Wi-Fi networks and run iOS apps, and if it's an iPhone 4s or later, it'll upgrade to the forthcoming iOS 8 operating system just like your new phone will. What's more, we've found that old phones make fun hand-me-downs to age-appropriate children.

Finally, should anything go wrong with your new phone, it never hurts to have a backup device in easy reach.

Return it to Apple or your wireless carrier

If you want to get a little bit of money for your old device, Apple features a Reuse and Recycling Program. In August, the program was offering to pay $225 for a gently used, AT&T iPhone 5; that price drops for phones with scuffs, scratches, and water damage. The 5s and 5c are not yet eligible turn-in models, but you can recycle the iPhone 4, 4s, and 5.

The payoff comes in the form of an Apple gift card — the value of which can be applied to your new iPhone purchase.

Verizon also has a trade-in program that lets you get an online appraisal on your current phone; the company will pay you in the form of a Verizon gift card or let you donate the phone's value to victims and survivors of domestic violence. AT&T, meanwhile, has its own Reuse & Recycle program — though it asks you to bring your old phone to one of its stores. And Sprint has a buyback program that promises to pay up to $300 in account credit for used devices, no matter which carrier it's from.

T-Mobile's trade-in program works slightly differently — you can only trade in a device after agreeing first to purchase a new phone from the company. But a 16GB iPhone 5S was bringing an estimated $230 in credit from the company as of Sunday.

Sell it to a third party

This is, admittedly, the trickiest route to take. There are many resellers — among them NextWorth, Gazelle,YouRenew, and CashforiPhones.com, all of which will gladly pay to take your iPhone off your hands.

On Sunday, offers ranged between $257 and $357 for a 16GB iPhone 5s in good condition — with a little bit extra for unlocked iPhones — but the law of supply-and-demand rules here: Those prices will start coming down quickly as those companies are flooded with used phones from owners upgrading to the next iPhone.

 

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