Your iPhone 4 is actually gaining value, study finds

By , Aug 8, 2013


Unlike the auto which loses much of its value the moment you drive off the dealer’s lot, iPhones tend to remain valuable to owners. According to new research, Apple’s handset does better at retaining its value, compared to Android phones. In a related study, trade-in programs are increasingly important to smartphone owners deciding on carriers.

Although the value of Android phones fell by as much as a third in three months, iPhone prices actually go up. The price of an iPhone 4 asked on eBay was 10.3 percent higher than at the start of the three-month period, one Wall Street analyst found…

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster measured the resale value of three iPhones and three Android handsets in the U.S. and China, starting in April. During that period Samsung phones powered by Google’s mobile software fell between 14.4 percent and 35.5 percent, according to Fortune.

Apple’s worst performance, in terms of resale value, came from the iPhone 4S, which lost between 11.8 percent to 14.3 percent of its value over three months. The iPhone 5 lost 3.75 percent to 7.2 percent, according to the Munster and his team.

What’s striking is that the iPhone 4 actually gained in value over the period: between 1.4 percent in China to 10.3 percent in the US.

What does this say about the rivalry between the iPhone and Android?

iPhone 4S (two-up, Photos 001)

“First, the iPhone 5 has maintained its value better in China than the Galaxy S IV which shows continued support for Apple’s flagship device within China,” the analyst told investors Wednesday. Despite Android handsets controlling the bulk of China’s smartphone sales, “Apple appears to be maintaining mindshare in the high end market,” he adds.

The absence of a sharp decline in resale prices for the iPhone also means owners are not expecting a new version of the device – or worse, a shift in preference toward the Samsung handset. However, as we get closer to September, a time when many expect Apple to announce new devices, we’ll likely see the iPhone aftermarket prices fall, he concludes.

Talk of the aftermarket prices of iPhones comes as rumors abound that Apple may get into the handset trade-in business. In a July survey, more than half of smartphone owners asked, said they would trade in their old handset when time to upgrade.


Some 60 percent of the survey respondents said they would pick their next wireless carrier based on the trade-in program, according to Connected Intelligence.

As the investing site Benzinga notes, carriers such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile have beefed-up their trade-in policies, as well as made it easier for consumers to more quickly upgrade their smartphones.

For Apple itself, a trade-in program could not only be a response to consumers valuing older iPhones, but a step toward Apple retail locations selling more handsets.

Currently, most iPhones are purchased through carriers, a situation Apple CEO Tim Cook would like to change. Cook envisions half of  iPhones being sold through Apple retail, currently responsible for just fifteen percent of iPhone sales.

  • Share:
  • Follow:

  • Rowan09

    Being a phone reseller for years the iPhone does definitely hold its value. Some of the reasons are a slow upgrade cycle (1 new phone a year), backwards compatibility with a new OS, brand, and Android phone companies usually release multiple phones in one year. Lets take the Samsung example, if I bought the first S4 for AT&T I would be mad to know a few months later the Active was out for the same phone. There are just too many Android phones to choose from and that kills the value.

    • Schalkb

      I wont really call 1year slow!

      • Rowan09

        In the phone market compared to the competition, a year is very slow. Count how many phones HTC, Nokia and Samsung release every year.

    • ReanimationXP

      Yeah but why is the 4 retaining more value than the 4S?

      • burlow

        they retain better value compared to their original price. the 4S is a more expensive phone, so it’s not saying the 4 is worth more than the 4S

      • ReanimationXP

        I realize that, that’s why I didn’t say that.

    • MarcPhilippeB

      perfectly said, thank you.

  • Fanboyofapple

    I have bought four iPhone 4’s in the last 10 days and have at least doubled my money on them. They are hot right now.

    • Loke2112

      Hey I wondering where your resale market is eBay?

      • Fanboyofapple

        Yeah eBay. I get them cheap from Craigslist and Facebook “online yard sale” group pages. Take a look at my iPhone background, it tells me how much to give for any iPhone so I never have to wonder what to pay for one! I am so proud of it haha!

      • Loke2112

        Nice, I just checked CL. Seems there are stalker buyers surrounding me as I type lol.

      • Fanboyofapple

        Haha yep you gotta be careful!

      • ReanimationXP

        Hah, I bet that’s a thrill to maintain.

      • Fanboyofapple

        I have a script running that constantly updates my background with current prices that will update daily/hourly, however I want it to. It’s always up to date so I won’t have to worry about the market crashing like it will probably do in the next month or so.

      • Rowan09

        Respect bro. I buy and sell and I’m a hustler, but game recognize game and your a beast.

      • Fanboyofapple

        I was just joking. I wish I was smart enough to do that! It’s just a background image I made and then strategically placed apps around it. I’m really the newb, I just started selling a few weeks ago. I wish I had more time to sell! This 50 hour a week job gets in the way of my hobbies!

    • MarcPhilippeB

      you’re a freak! Great idea.

      • Fanboyofapple

        I know it! That’s what my wife says too lol. Thanks. It is so much fun haggling with people and having tons of iPhones to play with at any given point in time 🙂

  • Taf Khan

    I hope the same will be said of the iPhone 5 in 18 months time..

    • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

      It won’t. With the 5s and 5c coming out, the iPhone 5 will become obsolete when people see that they can pick up a 5c for a cheaper price and have the 1 gig of ram, the processor and the larger screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if they discontinued the phone or greatly slashed prices on it when the new hardware drops.

      • blastingbigairs

        Obsolete??? Doubt it.

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        Maybe not obsolete, but when the new hardware comes out there really won’t be a market for the 5 with a cheaper model with the same specs and a normally priced iPhone with better specs…where does that leave the 5?

  • David Gitman

    I am using iPhone And I am proud!

  • Gorgonphone

    dont you mean the 4S?? the 4S is a perfect iphone..

    • Loke2112

      Yeah right! Not with its crappy Wifi antenna.

    • Mohammad Ridwan

      Absolutely… 4S perfect….

      I never liked the iPhone 5 design… it’s narrow… and lighter weight makes it feel weird in hand…

      • blastingbigairs

        LTE means nothing to you?? Really??

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        They could make the phone physically different and still have LTE. Your missing his point.

  • pauleebe

    Really don’t understand this .. No 4G, inferior camera, CPU, GPU.

    iPhone 4 was a great iPhone, and definitely the breakthrough model for the iPhone line, but the 4S and so forth improve upon this basis.

    • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

      It’s because of the old boot rom exploit.

      • pauleebe

        It’s not a full untether though, and iPhone 4 probably won’t be supported on iOS 8, so I guess it will remain partially relevant for another year at most.

  • DevXav

    Am I wrong if say that the possibility to JAILBREAK or DOWNGRADE the iPhone 4 with shsh blobs together with its amazing cost + benefit price is one of the MAIN reasons for that?

    Long live redsn0w and Limera1n..

  • Latrese

    “What does this say about the rivalry between the iPhone and Android?”
    Umm forget about android,what does this say about the iPhone 4S???

  • suttonmontreal

    one of the reasons i believe the iphone 4 keeps its value, its because the A4 chip that can be downgraded to keep any jailbreak. i always have the latest iPhone but i also keep a couple A4 devices so in case i loose my jailbreak can always go back

    • DevXav

      Exactly, i am doing the same with my iPhone 4..
      Once it is the only trustful jailbreakable device by now, i just keep it, even if i have the latest iPhone..
      IMHO, Apple fights against itself when they fight against jailbreak..
      I’m not saying they should allow it or make it easy, but they could just “let it be”, under the hood… if you know what i mean.
      But anyway, who am I to say… I’m just a user after all… 😉

  • n0ahcruz3

    The iPhone 4 is iconic. And by the way it was Steve who presented this at WWDC thats why.
    P.s 4S has horrible battery life!

  • solidsephiroth

    Too bad my iPhone 4 has faulty home and power buttons.

  • Greg Whitaker

    Pardon my ignorance but is the ip5 going to be jail breakable when running iOS 7? Since ip4 is almost the last device one can still JB perhaps that is driving its value. It wasn’t long after I got my ip5 that I began seriously considering selling it and going back to a jb’able ip4.

    • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

      Pictures of activator installed on iOS 7 have been floating around…so keep your fingers crossed.

      • Greg Whitaker

        I have to. Without the hope of a jailbreak my ip5 is just another unrealized dream. Lol

      • Joseph Thebigragu Plaza

        I feel your pain. Sucks playing games that aren’t optimized for it…I miss full force for iPhone 🙁

  • jay

    true, i think the iphone 3 is even better still, slick design,
    just saying,