Recycle Your Old iPhone for Cash

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With people standing in line all over the world to buy the new iPhone 4, many are asking what they can do with their old iPhones. Since the price tag floats between $199 and $299, based on features, carrier plans, and whether you're a new or existing iPhone subscriber, wouldn't it be nice to recoup a bit of that investment while keeping an old device out of a landfill?

Well, maybe you and your small business can both save some money. Vendors from across the globe are offering cash or exchange offers for old iPhones, in addition to a variety of other handsets.

Some companies, such as NextWorth and Gazelle, offer to purchase your organization's old phones in bulk, providing volume incentives for selling your used equipment to them. Each offer is different, based on the number of phones, their condition, accessories, and so forth, so you may have to call or e-mail to negotiate for the best deal.

Services that pay for iPhones

NextWorth has an iPhone trade-in program that, it says, "can fully subsidize the price of upgrading" from the iPhone 3Gs to the iPhone 4, plus, it offers cash incentives for referrals that result in additional sales. iPhone owners can trade up in any of NextWorth’s participating retail stores, such as Target, or use the online program, which has a 10-day turnaround for an old iPhone in good condition. The service provides pre-paid shipping labels, but its Web site doesn't mention whether it wipes the old data, so be sure to clean your device before you let it go. For a functional, normal 16GB iPhone 3G without any cables or accessories, NextWorth offers $107.50.

For the same type of iPhone, Gazelle offers you $96. Gazelle pays cash for products in good condition, which they inspect on receipt, then determine the value and send you the cash. The company provides free shipping with packaging, and says it will wipe all devices clean of previous data. Turnaround with Gazelle is approximately one week after it receives your package.

Both NextWorth and Gazelle say they will pay up to $100 for the iPhone 3G models and $200 for 3GS models, if the devices are in good condition.

RadioShack also offers $100 for the 3G and $200 for the 3GS, but for in-store credit or gift card only. It sends the devices out to be wiped, and provides free shipping if you work through the Web site. Radio Shack will not accept devices with cracked screens, scratches, or water damage; the phone must be functional and disconnected from service. The company will accept phones without the battery and charger, but pays a little less for these devices.

Cash For iPhones provides an online quote for iPhone 2Gs and 3Gs. For example, it says it would pay $120 for that 16GB iPhone 3G. Shipping is free plus insurance and packaging, and the site advertises that it will buy your device in any condition, even if it’s broken or missing the battery and charger. Cash for iPhones advertises that it will wipe the device clean, and pay cash in one business day.

Eco New Direct quoted $85 for our old 16GB iPhone 3G. However, the service noted that the suggested price was based on visual inspection and could change if they were not satisfied with the device I sent in. After the online form asked for my my e-mail address, phone number, and address, it forced me to "accept" a terms and conditions contract that states once they receive my phone, it cannot be mailed back, which means if they decide it's only worth $10, I have no recourse to change my mind. They do provide a shipping label for free shipping, but I wouldn't use this service even if it was the only one available.

MyBoneYard had the same form as Eco New, and when I entered the same information for an iPhone 3G, it offered $148. Again, however, I was forced to "accept" a terms and conditions contract. It asked me to select the method of payment I prefer, from the single option of a prepaid Visa. Why ask, if there is only one option? And, once again, I had to enter my contact information before it would reveal the shipping arrangements, which are the same as those of Eco New. MyBoneYard offered a postage paid label that you can print and attach to the package.

Unlike Eco New Direct, this vendor offers more money and does not threaten to keep my phone if we cannot come to terms about what it's worth. But, it doesn't provide any valid contact information, so if I'm dissatisfied, I cannot contact them except through an online form. I refuse to do business with a company that doesn't provide valid contact information, especially when it forces me to accept a terms and conditions contract.

BuyMyTronics looks a little better, and its online form isn't static like some of the others. You can change the options on the form to see different prices. This vendor is offering $79 for a working, undamaged iPhone 3G with 16GB in fair condition with no other items included. It lists several shipping options, and says it will provide a free shipping label. Also, on the plus side, this vendor provides a full street address in Denver, but no phone number.

Among the trade-in Web sites, Eco New Direct, MyBoneYard, and BuyMyTronics appealed to me the least. None of them advertise that they wipe the device, or mention a timeframe between receiving your property and sending your compensation. If you're a company that's planning to resell a number of iPhones, there are many other options. If you have a local outlet that pays or trades-up for used iPhones, I'd negotiate with them first so you can walk away if you are unsatisfied with their offer.

Alternatively, you could sell your iPhone to individuals on eBay or Craigslist . Prices vary based on condition and accessories, but shipping is rarely free and you’ll have to wipe the data yourself. If, however, you can sell it for quite a bit more through one of these services, you can ship it in a USPS flat rate box for under $5, so it might be worth it to try eBay or Craigslist.

Wipe the iPhone before you resell it

Even more important than cash in hand, data security should be your top concern when offloading an old iPhone used for work, so wipe that handset clean. If you don't, you're essentially handing your contacts, usernames and passwords, e-mails with clients and co-workers, Web browsing history, and saved meeting locations from Google Maps to a stranger.

The iPhone 2.0 operating system introduced an improved wiping function built to overwrite deleted data several times. It could take several hours, based on the phone’s storage capacity, but the process starts with a simple point-and-click function. If you don't have the iPhone in hand but have a MobileMe account, check out the remote wiping feature.

If your device runs an earlier operating system, wiping your personal data may be less easy and thorough. There are several steps required to complete the erasure process.

You can purchase a program such as AirWatch Mobile Device & WLAN Management Software to wipe old iPhones before you resell them. For companies with tight security issues, this might be a better option.

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