Apple and other smartphone makers also offer their own trading programs, as do some third-party resellers. Apple currently offers discounts of up to $ 500 for the iPhone 12 line if you trade with your old smartphone, depending on its age and condition.
The trading values of older smartphones can be surprisingly high because trading has become a critical part of the device’s life cycle. In addition to giving consumers the opportunity to get a new phone for a fraction of its price, it helps companies drive sales by hinting at more frequent upgrades, giving carriers a way to attract customers to long contracts, and delivering more affordable devices to secondary markets. and provides raw materials that companies can reuse to make new phones more environmentally friendly.
Push to upgrade
Retail programs give wireless operators and manufacturers a way to attract new customers and prevent existing customers from giving up their products – as we saw in AT&T’s free iPhone deal.
“This is probably the closest thing to reviving subsidies that were widespread in the United States when the iPhone first hit the market,” said David McQueen, director of research at technology consulting firm ABI Research.
A major problem that the goal of the trade is to solve is the growing tendency of smartphone users to keep their devices longer, often skipping a model or two (sometimes even more) before buying a new one.
“Motivation for subscribers to upgrade smartphones has been a problem for the past few years, as most flagships have very little differentiation from their predecessors,” McQueen said.
“Currently, there does not appear to be a real reason shown by [carriers] to upgrade to 5G, in addition to being marketed as just another “G”, McQueen added.
It’s too early to know how well the iPhone 12 line will sell, but if 5G isn’t a huge attraction, the exchange could help with additional upgrades.
Back on the market
Smartphones often have a shelf life and usefulness that exceeds the frequency of new models, giving companies an additional source of revenue even for older devices.
McQueen says phones that are not resold by carriers or smartphone companies could also end up in insurance companies to replace lost or broken devices for their customers or be shipped to emerging markets where consumers tend to have greater consciousness.
The programs also sell refurbished phones to consumers who want to buy slightly older premium models, according to analysts.
“[It’s] something like the used car market; “There are people who prefer an older Mercedes from 2021 to Hyundai,” said Ross Rubin, chief analyst at Reticle Research. This allows them to be more ambitious, in a sense, without having to pay $ 700 or more to buy in the current generation. ”
What’s inside matters
Another reason why old phones are valuable to companies is what is in them.
Apple is working to limit the environmental impact of its huge global manufacturing operations, expanding recycling programs and promising to be completely neutral by 2030.
“Manufacturers put more emphasis on this focus, they talk about the recycled materials they use to make their phones,” Rubin said.