Apple is expected to sell quite a few iPhone 5 handsets this year. Investment firm Jefferies has calculated that 170 million global smartphone subscribers will come out of their contracts in the second half of 2012, and 450 million more will do so in 2013. Contracts aside, Topeka Capital analyst Brian White expects the iPhone 5 to drive the "biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history," while Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has told investors to expect the "biggest handset launch in history.
Add in a Samsung Galaxy S III that made its way into the hands of more than 20 million users in 100 days, and there are, or will be, considerable numbers of unused phones cluttering office shelves and kitchen junk drawers. Recycling boxes are an option, but a number of sources offer cash, as consumers are discovering.
Last year, following Apple's iPhone 4S announcement, iPhone sales surged on SellCell.com, constituting 50 percent of the phones the site helped to sell that day. Compared with last August, sales of smartphones, feature phones and tablets this year are up 725 percent, and in the last four months the average price being offered to sellers has increased from $77 to $84.
In the month leading up to the iPhone 5's introduction, a SellCell spokesperson told eWEEK, total iPhone resales and trade-ins were up nearly 434 percent, compared with the weeks before the iPhone 4S's intro; iPhone 4 re-sales were up nearly 883 percent and overall trade-ins were up 492 percent.
During Apple's Sept. 12 introduction of the iPhone 5, trade-ins on SellCell.com were up 50 percent from the daily average and visits for the day peaked at 4 p.m. ET, shortly after the event concluded.
While it's tempting to think consumers are trading in devices made by Apple competitors, it's just the reverse. The site's latest September figures show Apple devices to account for 29 percent of trade-ins on the site, followed by Samsung (17 percent), HTC (15 percent) and BlackBerry (14 percent) devices.
SellCell.com fancies itself the Kayak.com of the smartphone resell market. Users enter the name of the phone they'd like to sell, and the site gives back a comparison tool showing the companies willing to buy it. The morning before Apple's iPhone 5 announcement, offers for a 16GB black Apple iPhone 3GS, in good condition, ranged from $18 from an unrated company called Depstar to $107 from an unrated company called Side Street Technology that ships for free but doesn't offer free packaging. A company called BuyBack World, however, has a B+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, offers free packaging and shipment, and was willing to pay $101.
uSell.com runs by a similar model, but gets more specific about the state of the phone, asking a few quick questions, such as whether the screen is damaged and what accessories--such as the original box and charger--the seller has. As on SellCell.com, device conditions affect offers.