As recently as a week ago, the popular gadget trade-in service Gazelle reported that iPhone owners were selling their old phones as frequently as once per second, presumably in advance of the upcoming announcement of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Now Apple is preparing its own in-store trade-in program, so as not to let third-parties be the only beneficiaries of all that resale goodness.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that some Apple stores are already testing a trade-in program, and that it will roll out chain-wide soon. TechCrunch says that the company will offer $250 credit for a 16GB iPhone 5 in good condition, which you could then put towards the purchase of an iPhone 5S or 5C. Comparatively, Gazelle will reportedly offer $315 for the same phone.
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Gazelle's program simply asks you to specify your model, memory and carrier through an online form. You then chose its condition: broken, good or flawless. Gazelle quotes an offer, and if accepted you'll get a box in the mail. After Gazelle gets the box, and confirms you didn't fib about the iPhone's condition, you get paid by check, PayPal or Amazon gift card.
Now Gazelle is upping in the ante, apparently in response to Apple's plan to compete. The service is offering to buy back an old iPhone now, but not ask you to mail it in until October 19. That presumably gives you time to buy your next iPhone before giving up your old one. (The new iPhone is rumored to be coming the second week of September.)
Gazelle is far from the only player in the electronics buy-back world. In 2012, we compared trade-in deals for the iPhone 4s and found that Amazon's program offered the most (up to $415) while eBay's Instant Sale netted $299 for a 16GB 4S. Gazelle came in third with $277 and BuyBackWorld fourth at $275. At the time, Gazelle was offering a premium for AT&T iPhone 4S devices. Best Buy and Radioshack offer trade-ins, but those are only good for in-store credit.
We'll bring you more details on Apple's trade-in program as soon as it becomes official.