iPhone Aftermarket Emerges as Updates Loom

31.07.2011
Yearning for the next iPhone but unsure what to do with your current, soon-to-be-outdated model? Not to worry -- plenty of gadget buyback options are available to give you enough cash to pay an early termination fee or snatch up that new, shiny iPhone you desire.

How does that work? Because phones are sold for a subsidized price with a contract, users can usually make some money by selling their phone to people who need a replacement device or don't want to sign a new contract. If you sell at the right time, you can maximize your return and, in some cases, make more than enough cash to buy a new iPhone on contract.

PCWorld took a look at six online options to see how much a used iPhone 4 or 3GS might fetch and which service has the best offer for those looking to trade up this fall.

Keep in mind, you can probably get a little more cash by selling your used iPhone on Craigslist or eBay, but these trade-in programs are convenient and in some cases will allow you to get a price quote locked down for a month.

The services are: , , , , and . All quotes were based on the devices being functional, in good condition (normal wear, light scratches, etc.), free of water damage, and came with an AC adapter and USB cable.

eBay Instant Sale offered the most cash across the board. At the time of testing I got quotes of $308 for a 16GB iPhone 4; $326 for a 32GB iPhone 4; $168 for a 16GB 3GS and $172 for a 32GB 3GS. The downside is that you must ship your device to eBay Instant within ten days of getting the quote and it only pays via PayPal. Other services give quotes that are good for a longer period and offer more payment options, including: checks and store gift cards. (For more information on the different services, check out the chart.)