Don’t Get Stung 101

Data Driven Hacks to Skyrocket iPhone Trade-in Values

When Apple takes the stage every year to launch the new iPhone there is a flurry of smartphone owners frantically upgrading. As our data will show you, going into this process without a plan to navigate the 30+ buyback options could cost you well over half of what your old iPhones genuinely worth.

iPhone Trade-in Hacks

4 Factors That Impact Trade-In Values

BankMyCell’s iPhone trade-in pricing feed analysis has highlighted four trade-in pitfalls that will bleed your iPhone’s value. This study will not only provide advice; it will provide real numbers on what you stand to lose by not overcoming these pitfalls:

  1. Resale Timing: Lose up to 26.9% of its value
  2. Price Comparison: Lose up to 38.7% of its value
  3. Cosmetic Wear (scratches): Lose up to 34.9% of its value
  4. Carrier Unlocking: Lose up to 24.5% of its value*

*iPhones not on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile can lose up to 51.9%

Understanding these can more than double your iPhone’s value. Be warned: If any of these issues stack, you can get a quote almost half of an iPhone with a smashed screen.

iPhone Trade-in Price Hacks

Bite-Sized Summary Of Findings

Consumer iPhone Launch Trade-in Survival Guide

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Timing: iPhone owners can lose up to 26.9% in 12 weeks

iPhone’s are hands down the best at retaining value for the nine months leading up to the Apple event where the new device gets announced. The three months after is a black hole where your old one will plummet in value.

Key Statistics:

  • Average loss: iPhones lose 17.64% of their value in Q4 compared with an average of 5.08% in every other quarter (Q1-Q3).
  • A massive 68.86% of the iPhone X and 8’s value loss was seen in Q4 following the Sept 2018 Apple Event (31.14% between Q1-Q3).
  • Consumers can lose up to *$218 (iPhone XS Max) by waiting 12 weeks after the event.
  • The devices with the highest depreciation rates are forecast to be the iPhone 8 (*26.67%), iPhone XS (*26.92%).
  • Jan-Sept 2018: the iPhone X only depreciated $62 (9 months)
  • Oct-Dec 2018: the iPhone X depreciated $138 (3 months following the event)

Solution: Lock in your quote the day before the announcement, most stores offer 30 days to send your old phone, some even bump this to 60 days – Helping you avoid the aggressive price crash detailed above.

Why? You’re gaming the system, and you can get the new iPhone delivered within the price lock period, transfer your data over and start using it before selling and losing any value.

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Price comparison: iPhone owners can lose up to 38.7%

In the online trade-in market alone, there are dozens of buyback options, and we price checked over 30 of them. We found well-known carriers and in stores solutions typically offer much less than independent online stores, it’s worth comparing, and this is why:

Online Only:

  • Biggest money loss: iPhone XS Max had a $150 comparison quote difference.
  • Biggest percentage difference: iPhone SE had a 38.7% difference between the top and bottom quotes.
  • Top/bottom price difference: The average iPhone owner could lose 26.5% depending on the model the difference in quotes range from 13.7% to 38.7%.
  • 2017-2018 Models: Consumers could lose 21.2% on average.

Best Online Price VS Instore / Carriers / Brands:

Based on a mystery shopper review of an iPhone X 256GB (Verizon)

  • In-Store: consumers could lose $130 to $242 with all instore quotes ranging between 23% to 45% (average 31% loss)
  • Carrier: consumers could lose $145 to $175 with all carrier quotes ranging between 26% to 32% (average 30% loss)
  • Apple: consumers would lose $130 (23% loss) of their iPhone X value selling directly to the brand’s trade-in service.

Solution: Some lesser-known stores tend to offer the best prices, shop around! You can get peace of mind by checking their customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot or SiteJabber – confirming chances of them being a hidden gem!

Why? You can get paid more and most importantly avoid payment in store credit restricting your spend. Plus, you get to choose price lock timescales and shipping options to suit you.

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Condition: iPhone’s with scratches can lose up to 34.9%

It’s not as black and white as having a broken iPhone trade-in price or a working iPhone price. There are three prices you can get before a device gets classed as broken, e.g. where screens/frames are cracked, and the device has hardware or software issues. Well-kept phones that are mint condition, phones that have a couple of marks and phones with cosmetic damage like scratches, dents, marks.

Key Statistics:

  • Biggest money loss: Consumers can lose up to $100 on a scratched iPhone X or XS.
  • Biggest percentage difference: Consumers can lose up to 34.9% of an iPhone 7’s value if it’s scratched.
  • Typical cosmetic damage loss: Average iPhone owner could lose 23.0% of its value for having scratches, the difference in quotes range from 11.1% to 34.9% depending on the model.
  • 2017-2018 Models: Consumers could lose 14.9% on average on an iPhone 8 or higher.

Solution: Before you get your new iPhone, buy a case and screen protector to put on straight away. Not only will it save you on repair costs, but it can also skyrocket your trade-in value later down the line.

Why? When you sell, pop off the screen protector and case, wipe your iPhone down from any marks, and you can sell it for up to a third more.

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Carrier Unlocking: Locked iPhone lose up to 24.5%

Years ago a law was passed where any phone can be unlocked, making it free to use with any carrier providing 12 months has passed since purchase and both the phone and contract is paid off. We detailed which carriers are worth unlocking below:

Key Statistics:

  • Don’t unlock: Verizon is the only carrier with consistent prices matching unlocked quotes.
  • Consider unlocking: AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint can earn you up to $105 more and can lose up to 24.5% of their resale value.
  • Do unlock: Carriers other than Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint can earn you up to $200 more and can lose up to 51.9% of their resale value.

Solution: Purchasing an unlocked iPhone will not only earn you more when you trade-in, you will also benefit from lower monthly plan payments so the upfront cost evens out. Consider switching to a carrier like Verizon or AT&T, where you’ll know you can get the most money back down the line when you want to upgrade again.

Hack #1: Timing Your Sale

Avoid Losing Up To 26.9%, Sell Before The Frenzy

Consistently iPhone’s lose more in the three months following Apple’s keynote each September than the other nine months of the year where they have solid price retention. This can be seen in the chart below where we can see the quarterly depreciation.

iPhone resale timeline

*Depreciation figures shown are the average iPhone decline from the starting price on January 1st. Averages from iPhones released 2016-2019.

Apple iPhone Releases Bleed Your Resale Value

We’ve run trade-in websites (like BankMyCell) in the UK & USA since 2009, in this time we’ve consistently witnessed resale value aggressively plummeting with every new iPhone release. Furthermore, Apple is the only brand to cause significant declines in resale value with the launch of a new device – consumers with iPhone’s that are a few years old are likely to upgrading without a plan are likely to lose over $100 in the first four weeks of release.

  • Average loss*: iPhones lose 17.64% of their value in Q4 compared with an average of 5.08% in every other quarter (Q1-Q3).
  • A massive 68.86% of the iPhone X and 8’s value loss was seen in Q4 following the Sept 2018 Apple Event (31.14% between Q1-Q3).
  • Jan-Sept 2018: the iPhone X only depreciated $62 (9 months).
  • Oct-Dec 2018: the iPhone X depreciated $138 (3 months following the event).

*Depreciation figures shown are the average iPhone decline from the starting price on January 1st. Averages from iPhones released 2016-2019.

iPhone release trade-in impact

US Dollars: Forecasted iPhone Depreciation 2019

Based on historic iPhone depreciation rates, we’ve forecasted the current iPhone’s price crash that will be triggered by Apple’s event during September 2019. Below we can see what consumers stand to lose if they hold onto their old device until December.

  • Max loss: Consumers can lose up to $218 waiting until December.
  • iPhones released in 2018: On average, you’ll earn up to $175.50.
  • iPhones released in 2017: On average, you’ll earn up to $94.50.
  • iPhones released in 2016: On average, you’ll earn up to $39.50.
  • The devices with the highest depreciation rates are forecast to be the iPhone 8 (*26.67%), iPhone XS (*26.92%).

*Forecast rates are based on averages of similar devices by age and model type, e.g. budget, flagship, plus/max models that were ‘x’ years old.

iPhone depreciation forecast

% Rate of Decline: Forecasted iPhone Depreciation 2019

Below is a graph showing the same forecast data, showing the projected decline rate in popular iPhone models resale value following September 2019 Event.

iPhone resale depreciation chart

Solution: Lock in your quote the day before the announcement, most stores offer 30 days to send your old phone, some even bump this to 60 days – Helping you avoid the aggressive price crash detailed above.

Why? You’re gaming the system, and you can get the new iPhone delivered within the price lock period, transfer your data over and start using it before selling and losing any value.

Hack #2: Price Comparison

Avoid Losing Up To 38.7%, Shop About

As you can see below, when it comes to resale options in the US you can drown in options, there are over 32 well-known trade-in stores online. Just comparing the online versions below, consumers stand to lose up to $150 on online trade-ins. This gets worse taking a carrier or in-store trade-in options, where our mystery shopper data below shows losses are much greater.

iPhone buyback stores in the US

Price comparison: iPhone owners can lose up to 38.7%

We impartially compared prices from online trade-in stores to see how much you can lose on your iPhone resale.

  • Biggest money loss: iPhone XS Max had a $150 comparison quote difference.
  • Biggest percentage difference: iPhone SE had a 38.7% difference between the top and bottom quotes.
  • Top/bottom price difference: The average iPhone owner could lose 26.5% depending on the model the difference in quotes range from 13.7% to 38.7%.
  • 2017-2018 Models: Consumers could lose 21.2% on average.
iPhone buyback chart - price comparison

Solution: Some lesser-known stores tend to offer the best prices, shop around and check their customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot, SiteJabber, and BBB.

Why? You never know how new the store is, so finding somewhere with a few hundred reviews raises the chances of them being a hidden gem that’s trustworthy!

Online VS Instore VS Carrier Trade-ins

Aside from negotiating a great private sale value for your iPhone, independent online trade-in stores offer the best prices – this is what we found comparing the top online trade-in price for an iPhone X 256GB against brand, in-store and carrier offers.

Chart - how much is my iPhone worth

*Prices compared on 08/24/2019.

Online Trade-in VS Carrier VS Instore

Based on a mystery shopper review of an iPhone X 256GB (Verizon)

  • In-Store: consumers could lose $130 to $242 with all instore quotes ranging between 23% to 45% (average 31% loss).
  • Carrier: consumers could lose $145 to $175 with all carrier quotes ranging between 26% to 32% (average 30% loss).
  • Apple: consumers would lose $130 (23%) of their iPhone X value selling directly to the brand’s trade-in service.

Hack #3: Protect Your Investment

iPhone’s With Scratches Can Lose Up To 34.9%

Typically, consumers buy cases to protect their iPhone from drops that cause smashed screens and damaged hardware. However, when you go to resell your iPhone the quotes you get from buyback stores will vary considerably by some cosmetic damage like scratches and little dents.

iPhone buyback - condition pricing

On average, an iPhone with cosmetic scratches loses 23% of its value

Trade-in stores don’t just offer prices for a working or broken iPhone. They provide a series of quotes for the condition of a working device. In general, this is how the pricing is tiered:

  • Like new: Devices with zero signs of damage or wear
  • Good: Devices that have light cosmetic wear, e.g. a few marks
  • Poor: Devices that have scratches or dents on the case and screen

How does this scale impact price from a device that’s been protected and looks presentable compared to a phone with no case that’s gained scratches:

  • Biggest money loss: Consumers can lose up to $100 on a scratched iPhone X or XS.
  • Biggest percentage difference: Consumers can lose up to 34.9% of an iPhone 7’s value if it’s scratched.
  • Typical cosmetic damage loss: Average iPhone owner could lose 23.0% of its value for having scratches, the difference in quotes range from 11.1% to 34.9% depending on the model.
  • 2017-2018 Models: Consumers could lose 14.9% on average on an iPhone 8 or greater.
iPhone buyback chart - condition pricing

Solution: Before you get your new iPhone, buy a case and screen protector to put on straight away. Not only will it save you on repair costs, but it can also skyrocket your trade-in value later down the line.

Why? When you sell, pop off the screen protector and case, wipe your iPhone down from any marks, and you can sell it for up to a third more.

Hack #4: Carrier Unlocking

Your Network Carrier Could Cost You Up To 24.5%

When you buy a new iPhone, it will usually be part of a network carrier deal and locked to that carrier. Legally carriers can only keep you locked for 12 months, and if the contract term and phone payments are complete, you can unlock it and get paid a lot more – but this depends on what carrier you’re with:

iPhone buyback table - carrier pricing

Unlocking: Carrier unlocking an iPhone can earn consumers up to $200

Phones locked to a carrier, legally let you unlock them, Verizon is the only carrier that carries similar pricing to unlocked devices.

  • Don’t unlock: Verizon is the only carrier with consistent prices matching unlocked quotes.
  • Consider unlocking: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint; they can earn you up to $105 more and can lose up to 24.5% of their value.
  • Do unlock: Carriers other than Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint can earn you up to $200 more and can lose up to 51.9%.
iPhone buyback chart - carrier pricing

Solution: Get your iPhone unlocked by its carrier to maximize your payout. BUT, not all carriers are worth unlocking, below we show examples of what you can earn on iPhones were released on 2017-2019.

Extra earnings unlocking the iPhone 8 and above:

  • Verizon: 100% NO, you’ll earn up to $5 extra
  • AT&T: You’ll earn up to $70 extra
  • T-Mobile: You’ll earn up to $86 extra
  • Sprint: You’ll earn up to $105 extra
  • All others: 100% YES, you’ll earn up to $200 extra

Why? Legally you can get iPhones unlocked, keep in mind when you buy a new iPhone too.

How do I unlock my iPhone?

Thanks to the ‘Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act’ carriers can’t keep you locked on their network for more than 12 months. The phone must be fully paid for, and the term of the contract you agreed must be up, e.g. 12, 18, or 24 months.

To unlock your phone, you need to call your network carrier with the information below to get it unlocked.

  • Phone number of the main account holder
  • Account password (if there is one)
  • Last four digits of the account holder’s social security number
  • IMEI number. This can be found by going to Settings > General > About or by dialing *#06#

Summary: How Bad Could It Get?

Visualize Factors Bleeding Your iPhone’s Value

What impacts your iPhone’s resale value (32 Stores)

Below we’ve created a chart showing the best deals from the 32 stores we compared prices on to explain how comparison, condition, and unlocking can impact pricing.

Important: The three criteria (condition, comparison, unlocking) individually subtract from the value of the phone. The depreciation is magnified when combined, for example:

If the iPhone XS Max is worth $810

  • With cosmetic damage is worth $720 (-$90)
  • No price comparison could be worth $670 (-$140)
  • Locked to US Cellular is worth $610 (-$200)

So the iPhone XS Max should be worth $380, but in reality, having three of these negative factors will result in the consumers getting offered $195 – $615 less than its real value!

This is represented as the red column in the chart below:

iPhone resale price comparison chart
  • All three issues: As explained above the chart, all factors can deplete the trade-in value by up to 92.5% or $615 cash.
  • Comparison: Consumers not comparing prices can lose up to 37.8% or $150 cash
  • Cosmetic damage: Consumers selling with scratches can lose up to 34.9% or $100 cash
  • Popular carrier: If your iPhone is locked to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint you could lose up to 24.5% or $105 cash
  • All other carriers: If you’re on US Cellular, Virgin, Metro PCS, Cricket or any other carrier you could lose up to 51.9% or $200 cash

iPhone Resale Price Exposure VS Broken Pricing

In the chart below we see how much you could lose out on online or in-store by not comparing prices, unlocking and protecting your iPhone:

  • Green Column #1: shows the top iPhone price with all comparison, condition, and unlocking factors ticked off.
  • Blue Column #2: shows the best price compared quote for the same iPhone with a shattered screen or functional problems.
  • Red Column #3: shows how much a consumer could get low-balled on by choosing a bad quote, with an iPhone locked to an undesirable network with scratches.

In every case below, the quote was less than 50% of a cracked or non-functioning iPhone, unlocked, and where consumers compared prices.

iPhone buyback chart - price exposure

Final Useful Tips

Other Pointers Worth Knowing

First impressions count! Give your iPhone a clean

The presentation of a clean tidy phone can make the difference when selling privately or to a company run trade-in store. If the phone looks new with no marks but is covered in grime, someone may offer you slightly less.

When selling your old iPhone privately, any buyer will be happy to pay more for a clean device, and they may even try to knock you down if it’s a mess. So, even if your phone has been in a case, you can take it off and wipe the device down with a cloth that is very slightly damp.

Do I keep the box and accessories?

It depends where you want to sell your old device, most trade-in services will not pay anything for the original box. The only use for this is you have a protective box to ship it in if you’re selling online.

In some occasions, we’ve seen the carriers requesting if the device has a charging cable, but the increase is so small it’s not worth it.

If you’re selling to someone privately, then having the box and accessories can increase the perceived value of the device. If you were buying a phone off a stranger, you would want the charging cable and the box it came in too. This means you’ll be able to set a higher price.

How to check if repairing a broken iPhone screen is worth it

There’s no black and white answer here, you’ll have to work out the math on your iPhone’s repair cost and the buyback value. You should check online prices for your iPhone screen to be replaced, most cost different Amounts so don’t choose a generic model, pick your own.

Once you know this, check out the price for your iPhone with a working screen and what you will get for a broken one. Then do the math as the examples shown below:

Not worth a repair:

  • iPhone XS Max Trade-in Value: $810.
  • Broken trade-on value: $450 (-$360 less than an unbroken price).
  • Apple Screen Repair: $329 ($810 – $329 = $481)
  • You’ll only make $31 more than the broken price ($481 – $450)

Worth a repair:

  • iPhone XS Max Trade-in Value: $338
  • Broken trade-on value: $185 (-$153 less than an unbroken price).
  • AppleCare+ Screen Repair: $29 ($338 – $29 = $309)
  • You’ll make $124 more getting it repaired ($309 – $185)

Wrapping it Up

Pricing Study Methodology

Stores compared:

  • Carriers compared: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and all others fall into a single pricing category ‘other’ e.g. Metro PCS, US Cellular, Cricket, and Virgin etc.
  • In-Store Solutions Compared: Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Staples, Target, Walmart
  • Online Solutions Compared: BankMyCell, Gazelle, Decluttr, Buy Back World, Buy Back Tronics, It’s Worth More, Quick Sell, Cellular Returns, 7 Trade-in, Max Back, Buy Back Boss, Sell Shark, Simply Sellular, Swift Tech Buy, SWOP Smart, Bing Bong Tech, Gadget Traders, iBuyLocked, iReTron, Itemcycle, Kiwi Gadgets, MySellPhone, RePhones, TheWhizCells

Pricing Dates:

  • 2018 price depreciation data was recorded from 01/01/18 to 12/31/19
  • Online price comparison data was taken on 08/22/19
  • Carrier vs Instore vs Online mystery shopper data was taken on 08/24/19

PR Pack & Data Request:

We can supply all the data for free upon request, please visit our media center for contact details

Data-Driven Hacks to Skyrocket iPhone Trade-in Values! Going into the iPhone trade-in process without a plan could cost you well over half of what your old iPhones genuinely worth. We solve that here.
https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/how-to-sell-your-iphone