The Truth About Apple’s iPhone Trade In Program

New iPhone season will be here before you know it. And with every new iPhone release comes a logistical problem for many iPhone users: what to do with their previous phone.
Of course, sometimes your options are simple. Maybe that two-year-old iPhone gets handed down to someone else in the family or sold to a close friend. But more often than not, you’re left with an old phone that still has plenty of value — you just don’t need it anymore.
There are plenty of ways to sell an old iPhone. Local sale and swap sites, online auction and social media groups are all options. But these can be a hassle, not to mention a security concern.
Apple has its own solution to this quandary: the Apple Trade In Program.

Apple’s Solution: The Apple Trade In Program

On the surface, the Apple iPhone Trade In Program is a pretty sweet setup. All you have to do is go to Apple’s trade-in page, select your device, and answer a few questions. Apple gives you an upfront amount of credit that you can see before committing.
The best part? In most cases, you can use that credit right then and there — before you give up your old device. It’s a simple way to take a few hundred bucks off the cost of your new iPhone.
You can buy your new device for less thanks to the credit you get for your old one, but then you can still hang onto the old one until the new one arrives. This way, you can transfer everything you need from your old phone to your new one — before sending the old one in.

Apple iPhone Trade In Program Values

As of July 2021, Apple is offering $525 for good-condition iPhone 11 Pro Max phones and $390 for iPhone 11 devices. The previous generation drops considerably, ranging from $230 for the iPhone XR to $320 for the iPhone XS Max.
You can find all current values listed on the Apple Trade In page.

Advantages of the Apple Trade In Program

The Apple Trade In Program has plenty of advantages. First is convenience: it’s the easiest, most frictionless way to extract monetary value out of your old iPhone.
The Apple program also has a huge advantage as far as user experience. You have to pay the full value up front for most other ways to upgrade and dispose of your old phone. Only Apple’s trade-in setup allows you to discount the purchase price of your new phone.
The other option that allows you to save upfront cash is much worse. You could sell your old phone before you buy the new one, but this creates a ton of logistical problems and leaves you phoneless for at least a little while.
In addition, there’s a safety and security advantage to going with Apple. You won’t have to meet a random stranger in some parking lot to facilitate the sale, for example.

Disadvantages of the Apple Trade In Program

There are plenty of positives to this program, but there are a few negatives you should know about before you dive in.

Just Who Are You Dealing With?

The first disadvantage is this: the process can be a little opaque. Sometimes you deal directly with Apple so they are receiving your device and issuing you credit for it. If that’s what you get, you’re very likely to have a fantastic experience.
But here’s the thing: lots of people who trade in devices using this program don’t actually do so with Apple. And you may not even know whether this is the case. Apple has several “trade-in partners” that handle the bulk of these trade-ins, and it’s not always clear who’s doing what.
One thing is clear, though: some partners like Phobio have gotten into hot water for shady practices like reassessing credit amounts after the fact.

Your Trade-In Credit Can Change

This leads to the other big disadvantage: your trade-in credit can change after the fact, leaving you with a bigger bill on your new phone. Usually this only happens if Apple or a trade-in partner finds damage to the phone that you didn’t disclose. But as 9to5Mac reports, quite a few users are blaming Phobio for the supposed damage they found.
If you do send in your device for a trade-in, make sure to document its functioning status before you do so.

Private Sales Net More

The last disadvantage worth noting is simply that selling your phone privately will usually get you more money (along with a lot more hassle, though).

Got a New Phone? Protect It with Upsie

Figuring out what to do with your old phone is tricky. But your new phone? That’s easy: protect it with an extended iPhone warranty from Upsie. Upsie provides awesome, uncomplicated coverage, including accident protection. The best part is that you’ll get it for less than you’d expect, and usually way less than AppleCare+ charges.

Learn More About Apple iPhones:

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.