Apple offers credit for upgrading iPhones
Apple quietly began rolling out an iPhone trade-in program Friday, letting owners sell older handsets back to the company in exchange for credit toward a new model.
Apples U.S. retail stores are now accepting devices, said Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Apple. The initiative got under way just before the next iPhones expected debut on Sept. 10.
At the Apple Retail Store in Union Square late Friday morning, there was no indication that news of the program, which had been rumored for weeks, had brought out many customers. Store staff said no one had yet requested a trade-in.
While smartphone recycler Gazelle and wireless carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T already buy used handsets, this is the first program run by the iPhone maker where people can get compensation for their phones.
The company has previously offered to dispose of peoples unwanted products for free, recycling 90 percent of the devices weight. The trade-in program allows consumers to earn credit toward a new phone or Apple product.
How much money a trade-in brings depends on the condition of the phone. An iPhone 5 with 64 gigabytes of memory can fetch $350 through Gazelles website, while an iPhone 3GS may receive only $10. The most that any used iPhone will fetch at an Apple Store is $280.
Used iPhones collected through these programs are often refurbished and used as replacements for those that break or are resold in emerging markets.
By buying old phones, Apple is aiming to spur new device sales by helping cover the cost of buying the latest smartphone. Apple is teaming up with Brightstar, a mobile-phone distributor, to run the operation, people with knowledge of the plans said in June.
IPhones hold great value so Apple Retail Stores are launching a new program to assist customers who wish to bring in their previous-generation iPhone for reuse or recycling, Bessette said. In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone.
Without a subsidy from a carrier, an iPhone 5 costs $649 to $849 depending on the amount of memory, or $199 to $399 with a wireless contract.
Jessica Floum is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Adam Satariano is a Bloomberg writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com