iPhone 4 Resale – Trading Up – Economics? Or Just Pleasure?

January 7, 2012

in iphone

iphonehomescreen.jpgI’ve been selling iPhones as each new generation comes along. In December I upgraded to an Apple unlocked iPhone 4S. So I had a spare iPhone 4 32GB to sell. I thought about taking it to India, as I’ve gotten good money on my old ones in the past. Yet in the end I decided to put it on Craigslist. Generally they were priced around $350 for one with box and all original accessories. I priced mine at $325 hoping to get rid of it quickly. Which I did.

Of note. All the calls I got were from people with friends overseas, or for someone not in the US. I stated in my Craigslist add that my iPhone was running iOS 5.01 with the latest modem firmware etc. To my knowledge you can jailbreak it today although unlocking is difficult to impossible. I tried, for the technically minded, I have SHSH blobs recorded and should have been able to revert to earlier iOS 4 software and then one of the unlocks. After a few hours of playing around – it just wasn’t worth it.

Some potential buyers know all the right questions. Some apparently didn’t. I don’t know what the plan was for the final buyer that collected my phone. It was sold AT&T locked without SIM. I got the impression it was going to the middle east. They didn’t ask me about what I know about jailbreaks or unlocks and after so many calls I stopped providing advice. My guess is they have someone that can do it and that’s the difference between someone that does a little messing around on the web hunting for solutions and someone who’s making a living out of repurposing these devices.

How do I see the economics. I bought three iPhone 4’s on the first day of it’s original release. It cost with subsidy about $250 each. I’ve run mine for 18 months approx. My contracts on all accounts clear at the end of February. I don’t really want to renew. I needed an unlocked phone for travel. I typically carry an Android – Samsung Galaxy S for that purpose. However, I always found I was just using it as a hotspot to keep on using the iPhone. So I may as well slip a sim in the iPhone. The new iPhone 4s wasn’t cheap. From Apple (the only real unlocked ones) it cost $811. So my outlay is now 811 – 325 or $486.

Now my guess is… when the next iPhone arrives I will get about the same value – around $500 for this “factory unlocked” phone. So other than my interest (nothing) and tie up of capital, I get the latest iPhone 4S experience for almost nothing, little risk and no additional carrier lock-in. We could look further forward. Then new iPhone 5? will require another out of pocket. $300 plus although that’s similar to what AT&T will charge me subsidized while locking me in for years.

Trading in and trading up has been common practice in many other countries around the world. In watching prices over the last few years in India traditionally Nokia phones provided this type of resale. Today I’m sure that is iPhone and one of the reasons is… even the 3GS is still being sold.

I’m pleased with the choice I made. I know this is a luxury item. I also wanted this upgrade more than an iPad2 or upgrading my 2008 15inch MacBook Pro. Those I can make do with. The 4S – it is the thing that is bringing new experiences and behaviors. That’s much more important to me.

On the other hand… I should really be getting a lower rate from AT&T on my plan as they are no longer providing a subsidy.

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