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How much is that phone worth now?

By: 1 December 2011 No Comment

When a person goes to a wireless carrier to purchase a smartphone, what typically happens? He or she usually pays a reduced fee for a phone (or gets one for free) and signs up for a two-year contract.

While most carriers have no-contract plans available that allow consumers to pay full price for hardware and buy a separate service plan, most smartphone users still utilize two-year contracts. Under those plans, consumers pay considerably less than what the hardware actually costs in exchange for agreeing to stick with that carrier for two years or pay hefty termination fees. When a “contract customer” is eligible to upgrade to a new phone, the cycle repeats — lower-priced hardware in exchange for another two-year contract.

So, what can one do with that old smartphone after setting up the new one and bringing it home? There’s a market for those old phones and the consumer who plays his or her cards right might get enough cash to cover the cost of the new hardware.

So, which phones hold their value the best when we’re talking about the raging Apple vs. Android battle? A look at phones from last year reveals the clear winner in that regard is the iPhone 4. Whether Apple’s current model — the iPhone 4S — will hold its better than competing Android handsets is anyone’s guess, but history shows us that may well be the case.

Bear in mind we’re talking about the market value of the hardware involved rather than the merits of the operating systems. Whether Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android is superior is a subjective question and one we’ll not take up here. We’ll not discuss whether the color blue is superior to red, which nation is represented by the most fetching flag or whether President Barack Obama is doing a good job, either. Some people prefer iOS while others like Android. That’s just how it is.

No, we’ll try to stick to the objective and compare the market value of the iPhone and Android devices so as to compare the major players in the market. Taking a look at that hardware at this point in time is relevant as those smartphone users with the pricier plans may be eligible sooner. For example, I purchased my iPhone 4 through AT&T at the first of August 2010 and will be eligible for an upgrade at the first of February 2012 by paying an $18 fee. There are, then, more than a few people  who picked up the iPhone 4 shortly after the device was released or grabbed a competing Android handset around the same time and are now eligible for upgrades.

For those in a position to upgrade or getting close to being eligible for a new phone, how much money can they expect to receive for their old smartphones? To answer that question, I compared the values of the iPhone 4 and some of its major competitors from last year — a brief look at some of the more popular phones back in August last year. For the sake of comparison, I relied on the values estimated by, a popular site that is in the business of buying and selling smartphones and bills itself as the place for people to go who have upgraded and want to sell their old handsets.

All phones were listed as being in good condition with signs of ordinary use and complete with the original cables, chargers and batteries that are still fully functional. How did the phones compare? Just have a look at the below chart:

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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