In the United States, most people sell or trade in their old phone when they buy a new one. And the value of your old phone changes what you actually pay for a new one.
Calculating resale is difficult for Android smartphone owners like me.
A used iPhone retains its value so much better than other high-end smartphones that you might want to think twice before buying anything else. I hate to say this, but it’s true.
A smartphone is perhaps the most important and perhaps most expensive piece of technology in your life, especially if you also factor in the cost of cell service. We must take into account all elements of the price calculation, including resale values.
The resilient value of an iPhone
I knew that used iPhones retained their value. I was always surprised how big the resale price gap was.
Take the two-year-old Google Pixel 6 phone that I own. Used used Pixel 6 devices sell for an average of $185 each on B-Stock, which buys and resells used smartphones in bulk.
The average is $410 on B-Stock for two-year-old used iPhone 13 devices in similar condition.
That means a two-year-old used iPhone is still worth about half its original price of $799. A Pixel device of the same age is only worth 30% of its original price of $599.
It’s not just the Pixel. A used iPhone 12 from 2020 is worth 35% of its original price, according to B-Stock, while a high-end Samsung Galaxy S20 released the same year only sells for 15% of its original price. origin.
There is a significant value gap for almost any of them used an Android phone versus a comparable iPhone, said Joe Dubé, director of mobile accounts at B-Stock.
B-Stock auctions a lot of phones that people return, broken devices covered by insurance, or phones that we trade in to a company like T-Mobile.
These auction prices are not what you would personally get for your used phone. But they show the trend Americans can expect when you sell your old phone or trade it in when you buy a new device.
The trend generally favors iPhones.
I discovered that if I wanted to sell a used phone on a site like Gazelle Or Exchange, an iPhone 13 was worth up to $300 more than a similar Pixel. The resale price difference was about the same for a comparable used Samsung Galaxy phone.
Trade-in offers from mobile carriers for older phones are ubiquitous. With a used iPhone 13, trade-in offers were in some cases $100 or several hundred dollars more than a comparable Android device, but in other cases about the same or lower.
Generally speaking, experts say trade-in values for iPhones are higher than similar high-end Android phones, but not always.
Exploring resale values has changed my perception of my Pixel phone.
A new Pixel costs less than a new iPhone. (Samsung’s high-end Galaxy S devices are about the same price as comparable iPhones.)
But the iPhone is starting to look like a better deal if I can sell it in a few years for hundreds of dollars more than I’d get for a used Galaxy S or Pixel.
Why a used iPhone is worth more than an Android phone
Dube said one reason is that Apple doesn’t tend to discount its new phones and releases new iPhones on a set schedule each year.
A predictable flow of new devices at predictable prices gives big phone buyers certainty about what they’re willing to pay for used devices. And what they pay is reflected in the price of trading in or selling your old phone.
Dube also said that compared to phones from Samsung or other Android manufacturers, there is a greater availability of replacement parts for older iPhones and people who know how to repair them.
This means it costs less for used phone wholesale dealers to replace a battery or swap out a broken screen on an old iPhone. Again, these repair costs factor into the value of your old phone.
Consumer demand is also part of the equation. Most used smartphones are purchased outside the United States, and many of them people are happy to buy a used iPhone.
What you should do with this reselling knowledge
There are caveats to this resale price information.
Although Apple rarely offers discounts on new iPhones, you can find discounts on new high-end Android phones. This could offset the relatively low value of the Android phone you’re replacing.
If you buy new smartphones from one of the big three US phone companies, the trade-in values are currently far from market reality. You could get as generous a trade-in price for your creaky old Samsung Galaxy as your friend gets for her used iPhone.
And resale values are more relevant if you buy a new high-end smartphone every few years or so. If you keep a smartphone for many years – or buy lower-tier smartphones – the resale calculations matter less.
Finally, our purchasing decisions are not made based on price alone. You might prefer a $300 Galaxy, Pixel, or smartphone to an iPhone. Great!
Just know, though, that if you’re generally buying a fancy device, the most sensible choice in terms of dollars and cents might be this iPhone.