If you’re a fan of Apple, there’s no getting around it – you like getting new devices. Whether it’s a shiny new MacBook with a bunch of new tricks or an iPhone with a snazzy new camera, there’s always something new to enjoy. So, of course, you ask, “What do I do with my old devices?” Trade-in seems like the obvious choice, but is Apple trade-in worth anything?
Yes, the company actually takes in used devices, which you can use in turn into credit towards your newer ones. It’s a neat tactic, and saves you the burden of trying to resell it. But is the program worth it overall, or are there better alternatives (like us) to consider?
The thing is, it depends what you’re trading, and what kind of condition it’s in. Newer devices earn much more money than older ones, and if they’re in pristine shape, you can expect a decent value. But let’s take a closer look and see how the program works – and more importantly, if it’s worthwhile.
Apple Trade In is the tech giant’s buyback program (not to be confused with the iPhone Upgrade Program which lets you pay for a new iPhone over a 24-month period). Whether you’re offsetting the costs of the newest iPhone or recouping some of your losses on an Apple Watch that you don’t use anymore, Apple’s buyback program is convenient, with the ability to choose from either online or in-store trade-ins.
Online Trade-In: Prefer to purchase from the comfort of home? Just answer a few questions online about your item and its condition to receive your trade-in estimate. Then, mail in your old device using Apple’s complimentary shipping label or trade-in kit.
Once your item is received, the experts over at Apple will evaluate your gadget’s condition. If their assessment doesn’t match what you initially described, your device’s trade-in value will be adjusted accordingly. From there, you can accept the offer and receive credit to be used online or in-store.
In-Store Trade-In: Rather get hands-on with the object of your (upgrade) desire? Simply bring your used Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and more into your closest Apple Store and trade it in in-person. After a quick inspection, you’ll get your trade-in quote.
Just a quick note, though. Making an appointment for a trade-in can take some time. Due to COVID restrictions, you may not even be able to make one for a few days’ out. If you’re in a bit of a hurry to get rid of your device, you’re probably better off just sending it in.
Not pleased with the meager trade-in offer on your iPad? Relax. Any estimate you receive from Apple for your trade-in is obligation-free. So, if you went to an Apple Store to trade in, don’t be afraid to walk away if you’re not happy with the amount you’re quoted. Likewise, if you don’t like the updated trade-in estimate you get for your online trade-in, Apple will send your device back to you for free (unlike someone else we know).
Apple will accept a wide variety of devices (i.e. not just Apple products) for its trade-in program. These include:
|•||AiPhones – iPhone 5 through iPhone 12 (they’re currently working on adding iPhone 13 devices, though no official word as to when)|
|•||Tablets – All models of iPad are accepted, though obviously the newer the better|
|•||Computers – Apple iMac and MacBook models are accepted — again, the newer the better|
|•||Smartwatches – Apple Watches are accepted, starting with Series 2 all the way through Series 6|
|•||Other devices – Apple will also recycle (re: for free) other gadgets; you’re best off selling them elsewhere|
Eh, kind of. Prior to 2016, you wouldn’t have received any trade-in credit for your damaged iPhone. Since then, Apple has relaxed its trade-in guidelines a little bit to give store credit for a device even if it has a crack or two. But only to a certain degree.
We decided to test out how cracks affect Apple’s trade-in values for ourselves using the company’s online trade-in estimator and oh boy, it was not pretty.
For an iPhone 12 with 256GB storage unlocked, Apple will provide up to $400 for trade-in. However, when you state that the same phone’s body is in “bad shape” (i.e. cracks, chips, scratches, shattered glass back, etc.), it’s trade-in value plummets to a big, fat $0. (Keep in mind that GadgetGone offers quite a bit more in cash, even for damaged items.)
Fortunately, that’s where AppleCare+ comes in (if you had the forethought to invest in it, anyway). Rather than settling for less and sending Apple your damaged phone, you can fix a cracked screen or shattered back glass for only $29 and $99, respectively. That still leaves you with a respectable amount of profit, depending on the device!
Keep in mind that GadgetGone offers quite a bit more in cash, even for damaged items. For example, looking up an iPhone 12 256GB unlocked in good condition, we give $515 in cash, with different payment options available. Damaged? You still get a decent amount, between $50 and $300. That’s great compared to Apple’s goose egg.
Apple’s buyback program only gives store credit for trade-ins. Depending on whether you trade online or in an Apple Store, that payment will come as either instant credit, an Apple Gift Card, or be credited to an existing purchase.
Online Trade-In: Should you elect to trade in your old device when buying a new one online, your original payment method will be credited for the amount of your trade-in once your item is received and evaluated. Any remaining amount will be received through email as an Apple Gift Card.
If, however, you are trading in an item online but not making a purchase at that time, you will receive the full amount on an Apple Gift Card.
In-Store Trade-In: If you go into an Apple Store to trade in, you’ll have the choice of either an instant credit or an Apple Gift Card. As the name suggests, you’re free to use your instant credit that same day. Or you can opt for the gift card to use your credit for a future Apple purchase. Keep in mind that trade-ins can take a bit, depending on how busy the store is.
For much of its existence, Apple Trade In has been called out for its less-than-desirable trade-in values, particularly with older devices. So, when the program was fleetingly rebranded to Apple GiveBack from 2018 to 2019, it felt a bit too on-the-nose.
Unfortunately, although the more consumer-focused name has returned, Apple’s resale values have remained lower than its competitors by comparison.
Now, let’s take a look at how Apple’s trade-in values stack up to other popular buyback or resale market options. Keep in mind that the estimates below are for devices in good condition. As discussed previously, any cosmetic damage or functional issues will bring your device’s trade-in value down substantially.
So, there are some decent values here; but if you shop around at competitors (and our page), you’ll find much greater offers – and in cash.
If there’s any device category where Apple bucks its trend of offering lower trade-in credits, it’s with Apple Watches. In general, depending on which model you have, you could receive anywhere from $50 for a Series 2 watch to $235 for a Series 6 in great shape.
Unlike with Apple Watches, Apple’s iPhone trade-in values can’t hold a candle to other buyback options when it comes to most models. The company doesn’t even take iPhone 13 at this point; and while iPhone 11 and 12 are somewhat decent, they’re still somewhat lower values.
Similar to Apple’s iPhone resale values, the company’s iPad trade-in values are great for newer devices, but not so much for older ones. Check out the price chart below to get a glimpse of what’s offered.
The most significant value here is $550. But keep in mind that’s for the higher-end model with the most storage in pristine condition. You can expect the price to drop if you have one with lower space or issues.
By comparison, GadgetGone offers a lot when it comes to offering consumers the best value. For a 2TB iPad Pro in excellent shape, we’ll give as much as $1100. That’s twice what Apple offers!
Aside from Apple Watches, if there’s one device category that holds its own against competitor trade-in values, it has to be MacBooks. It’s also important to note that, unlike many trade-in sites like GadgetGone and Gazelle, Apple Trade In also accepts desktop computers and not just laptops.
Values vary depending on condition, but here’s a quick glimpse at what it offers.
Again, storage size does vary, depending on models, and could have an effect on overall pricing.
Only have a MacBook and want cash instead? We offer a tremendous amount of value for various models, going as high as $1,000 for some. We may not take desktop computers just yet, but if it’s a new laptop you need, we can lend you a hand in getting rid of the old one.
Apple’s trade-in values are often found wanting when it comes to certain devices (particularly older iPhones and iPads). Why?
Simply put, they prefer devices that can be sold back with ease. While models can vary depending on size and condition, for the most part they’re looking for something trouble-free to sell. Even with a repair shop on-site, preference lies in newer devices they know consumers will want.
That’s not to say they won’t take older devices – they clearly will – but there’s something about going after a resale market that’s still high in demand. Not many people want an iPhone 7 anymore, and usually consumers can find them second-hand for a lower price, like on eBay.
As you can see from the price chart above, they’re pretty general. And the price doesn’t change much, save for anything wrong with the condition or if it’s a size that’s not too heavily in demand (like 32GB iPhones).
That depends on what you mean by “worth it.”
If you’re planning on upgrading your old Apple Watch or MacBook, are trading in an entry-level iPhone with minimal specifications, or just generally prefer Apple for all your needs, then Apple’s buyback program might be for you. For everyone else, you’re probably better off trading in your device elsewhere.
There are a number of shops that offer top-dollar for your used devices, though it can take a little longer depending on demand. Some retailers, like Best Buy and GameStop, may offer incentives to get additional funds. Alas, there’s a catch – they’re only provided in store credit.
eBay is also worth consideration. However, there’s the risk of someone sending a device back to you if it doesn’t meet their specifications, resulting in a loss of funds compared to what you could’ve gotten just selling to a retailer or online buyback site.
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist might also be considerable. However, the higher-end the device, the higher the risk that someone could rip you off or leave you with nothing. If you follow safety protocols – meeting in a public place during the daytime – you should be all right. Otherwise, there are alternatives to consider.
Gazelle is a good option when it comes to selling back your device, since they provide trouble-free shipping and fair analysis of your phone. However, as of late, their value amounts are only slightly better than Apple.
Where’s that leave you? How about GadgetGone? Our services are completely trouble-free when it comes to sending in your device for sale. And our team takes good care in analyzing it, so you shouldn’t have any problems if you listed any defects on the form to send it out to us.
Plus, instead of just store credit, we offer different payment options. Want to buy something from Amazon? You can get a gift card. Prefer a quick deposit? We offer PayPal. Want a good old fashioned check? You’ll get it in the mail!
To Sum Up…
In conclusion, Apple’s trade-in program does have worth. But it depends on certain factors, like how new the device is (not too new – again, it doesn’t accept iPhone 13 just yet) and how much you enjoy shopping with them. If store credit is your thing for a new device, make an appointment or send your device to them online.
Looking for an alternative? There’s eBay and online sales sites to consider, but take a closer look at GadgetGone to see what’s offered. And if you have any questions about the process, feel free to reach out and we’ll put you at ease.
Apple may be a tech giant when it comes to making sturdy, dependable devices for everyday use. But when it comes to trade-in? It can probably use a refresher or two.
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