Apple’s aggressive iPhone trade-ins in India could include try-and-buy

iOS 7 teaser (iPhone 5c ad 006)

India Today on Monday said Apple has partnered with India’s local distributors (Apple Stores don’t operate in the country) on a smartphone trade-in program against new iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s purchases in an attempt to boost sales of the colorful new iPhone that has largely failed to attract buyers compared to the flagship iPhone 5s.

The Times of India today shared some additional tidbits about the initiative and it seems the country’s would-be iPhone buyers can now bring in their old iPhone or one of non-Apple handsets to claim lower prices against new iPhone 4s/5c purchases, and other benefits. More on that right below…

Apple’s creative ideas for India, home to 1.24 billion people, come down to partnering with local dealers that’ve agreed to make Apple’s handset more affordable to cash-strapped buyers by offering aggressive trade-ins as opposed to traditional price cuts.

Specifically, the firm is offering a minimum discount of Rs 13,000 (about $207) in iPhone 4 trade-in value, good only against new iPhone 5c/4s purchases. Of course, newer iPhone models will fetch higher value, depending on their condition.

This means a customer can bring in, say, his or her rusty iPhone 4 to one of the participating outlets and buy a 16/32GB iPhone 5c for 28,900/40,500 rupee, which respectively works out to about $463/$647.

Compare this to the official price points of 41,900/53,500 rupee ($670/$855) for the 16/32GB iPhone 5c. Mind you, these are off-contract prices and the flagship iPhone 5s is not eligible for trade-in discounts.

iPhone 5c Blue Yellow

In addition to older iPhones, some retailers permit customers to bring in non-Apple devices. For instance, Mumbai-based Mahesh Telecom has said that Apple’s exchange scheme is also available for BlackBerry’s Z10/Q10, Nokia’s Lumia 925, HTC’s One/One Mini/Desire 500/Desire 600.

Other eligible devices include Samsung’s Galaxy S4/S3/S4 Mini/Mega 6.3/Mega 5.8 and Note 3/2, as well as Sony’s Xperia Z1/Z/Z Ultra/ZR/C smartphones.

Those opting for an iPhone 4s will be able to walk away with the device in exchange for 18,500 rupee (about $296), down from its official price of 31,500 rupee (approximately $503). Apple in a similar vein introduced the buyback offer for the iPhone 4 earlier this year, which helped triple sales in a matter of one week.

The company is also giving cashback of five percent on select credit cards.

Apple iPhone 5s 5c launch video (image 001)

In addition to outlets which are part of Apple’s Premium Reseller initiative, some of the other participating stores offering this buyback include Reliance Digital, Jumbo Electronics, E-Zone, Croma, Airtel, Planet M, Digital Xpress, Spice Hotspot, Vijay Sales and The Mobile Store.

Even more surprisingly, Apple’s leadership is apparently toying with a try-before-buy approach in an obvious attempt to further boost iPhone sales.

The Times of India explains:

One of the ideas to push iPhone sales was a try-and-buy offer, wherein a buyer will be able to take home an iPhone model without actually purchasing it for a few days.

As per the discussion, buyers will have to get the cost of the smartphone blocked via credit card, so that in case they do not return the handset after the trial period is over Apple does not lose money. However, the nuances of this scheme were not ironed out at the meeting.

That to my knowledge would mark an unheard-of move for the company.

Can you imagine being able to waltz inside one of Apple’s U.S. retail stores and take home an iPhone, so you could play with it for a few days before making a purchasing decision? Now, that would be something!

In all seriousness, Apple holds a commanding share of the U.S. market for smartphones so try-before-buy isn’t really necessary here. Elsewhere, it’s a different story – that’s why some pundits call Apple’s U.S. share an anomaly.

I’m certainly eager to see whether Apple will introduce these kinds of promotions in China, Brazil and Russia where its dirt cheap competitor have managed to relegate the iPhone to a single-digit share.

If you live in India, feel free to comment on Apple’s latest moves and give our international readers some local perspective on these trade-ins.