Phone Buying Sites Don’t Value The iPhone 4 Highly Enough

Phone Buying Sites Don’t Value The iPhone 4 Highly Enough

Demand for the iPhone 4 has remained strong since its launch in Australia last July, which means there’s a fairly vibrant market for second-hand models. However, that isn’t reflected in the prices offered by many of the online “buy your old phone” outfits.

Picture by Mark Cooz Linsangan

If you walk into a phone store and say you want to sign up for an iPhone 4, the chances are good that you’re going to have to wait a while. (I’m assuming you’ll have already picked a suitable plan from our Planhacker guide if you want to buy on contract.)

As I write this, even Apple itself quotes a one week turnaround on delivering a new iPhone. So it’s unsurprising that there are plenty of used iPhone 4 deals on eBay, and often at quite high prices.

A brand new 16GB iPhone 4 costs $859 from Apple, while the 32GB model is $999. On eBay, 16GB models routinely sell for around $700, while the 32GB model can go for $850. That’s a pretty impressive outcome, given that second-hand goods rarely sell for anything near the price of a brand-new item. (There’s also a lot of listings for ‘new’ iPhone 4 devices on eBay at near list price; at that level, I’d figure buying from Apple itself would make more sense, assuming you don’t mind waiting a week.)

That same price retention curve isn’t reflected in the prices offered by mobile phone buying sites, however. Here’s what I got quoted from a bunch of Australian sites today for a working iPhone 4:

There’s not a huge amount of variation here: the average for the 16GB model is $474.38, while for 32GB the average is $515.38. There’s no stand-out seller, since sites offering a higher price for the 16GB model tend to lowball the 32GB version, and vice versa. What’s notable is that the prices offered are much lower than eBay sellers seem to be able to routinely attract.

In one way, it shouldn’t be surprising that these prices are not quite as high — after all, these outfits presumably want to sell the phone on to another buyer, so they need room for a profit themselves. But the gap is so great that it seems pretty clear that if you are planning to dispose of your iPhone 4, you’d be much better off selling it yourself. Whether those prices start to drop whenever the iPhone 5 is announced remains to be seen.

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


  • I was shocked to get $350 for my two year old iPhone 3G in B+ condition when I upgraded. It essentially paid back the $3 a month handset repayment that was part of my plan!

  • I’ll be looking to sell my iPhone 3GS in the next few weeks (switching to Android). Looks like eBay is still the best bet to sell it for as much as possible although with some extra hassle.

  • It’s just an iPhone. Like all tech it is subject to the “half new price” rule for any second hand goods. You don’t buy a warranty or service support when you buy used goods so why pay near new prices for any tech. Until the iPhail 5 comes out, apple are behind the tech curve so new prices are too high as well.

      • That backfired didn’t it lol.

        Not an iphone hater, I just hate the hype. Apples marketing division has managed to get into pretty much every media type to tell me that I need one. I don’t.

        Regardless of hype, a second hand piece of tech is still a second hand piece of tech unless it’s genuinely collectible. Pretty sure there is enough old iphones lying around to take it off the rare and collectible list.

        • Don’t get me wrong, I hate the hype too. The only piece of Apple hardware I own is a second-gen iPod Nano, and that’s only because it was given to me by KeyBank for opening up a checking account.

          I wouldn’t be caught dead paying over $150 for a phone, let alone ~$1000. I’m sure if I wanted to, I could give my BB 8310 the “brushed aluminium” look. 😉


  • @Hugh:

    But clearly you don’t proof-read your smart ass comments before you hit the submit button… Maybe too caught up in your clever retort.
    , eh? Add some value to your posts next time instead of flame-bait…

    • Just a bit of harmless banter, mate, take it easy.

      Anyway, it looks like I’m not the only one who could’ve done a better job of proof-reading before hitting Submit…
      , eh?


  • Do not sell your mobile via mazumamobile australia.
    I sent out my x10 and basicly they claim they never got it. Never any follow ups or anything.
    I called telstra to block the phone.
    Worst customer support via mazuma too. Useless.

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