Is It Too Late to Sell Your Old iPhone?

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For iPhone owners who plan to upgrade to the latest edition after Apple's Sept. 9 media event, time is running out to start looking at where and how to sell their current phones. Experts familiar with the resale market warn that the value of a current iPhones drops dramatically in the weeks following the latest model's release (sometimes in the weeks prior to the release as well). Anyone who wishes to upgrade to the iPhone 5s or 5c, on the other hand, need only bide their time to get a bargain.

Last year, we spoke with Nik Ramen, chief operating officer and co-founder of uSell, a service that connects sellers to a network of professional buyers, to gather inside tips on selling an iPhone. His first point: Lock in a price right away. USell's data from the 2012 iPhone 5 releases showed that the existing version lost 5 percent of its value in the first week following the new edition's launch; 12 percent by the second week; and 20 percent by the third or fourth week.

We recently heard from uSell again and the data from last year's release of the iPhone 5s and 5c match up. The value of the iPhone 5 dropped by 11 percent in two weeks, 15 percent after four weeks, and 18 percent by the sixth week after launch. The trend is clear: Sell early to make the most.

Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer of NextWorth, a competing service, told CNN last year that the value of older iPhone models falls by 15 to 20 percent during the six weeks surrounding the launch of a new iPhone. NextWorth buys and sells devices through its website but has also partnered with Target to allow sellers to trade in devices at Target stores in exchange for Target gift cards.

Sellers are generally asked to rate the quality of the device and indicate whether there is any physical or functional damage. Currently, a silver 16GB iPhone 5s in good condition fetches about $285 to $300 on the resale market, but a wait-and-see stance likely means a decrease of $45 to $60 in the offer price. Even phones with cracked screens are still worth selling. The day we checked in early September, uSell posted offers as high as $76 for a damaged iPhone 5s. Potential sellers need not worry about being left without a phone in the interim -- they can lock in a quote now that will be good for 30 days.

Several other online companies maintain marketplaces for used iPhones, and consumers wondering how much their iPhone is worth will probably find a range of quotes. When we previously looked into the going price for an iPad 3, sites such as Craigslist, eBay, and Glyde posted the highest prices but no guarantee of a sale. Amazon's trade-in program (for gift cards) and Apple's own recycling program followed close behind.

Glyde serves as a marketplace where sellers list their items and desired prices while buyers look for a bargain. Glyde then takes a cut of the transaction. Gazelle, a big name in the industry, buys and resells devices directly, or, in the case of some older devices, works with a partner recycling company to make money off the scrap metal. There are many more business models out there.

If you're considering selling your iPhone online or off, act now before the price drops too low. Many of the online buyers guarantee their quotes for up to 30 days, meaning you might as well test the waters now and decide later what you're going to do without taking any risk.

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