Apple’s Questionable Trade-In Program Values


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California-based Apple Inc. held its annual fall Apple event announcement last Tuesday showcasing new iPhones, the next Apple Watch and new iPad variants. Amongst its offerings and services was the promotion of the “Apple Trade In” program.

The Apple Trade In process involves 1) evaluating your current device to determine the value, 2) providing it to Apple (or its partner which it has been outsourced to, and 3) get a credit of the value. If your trade-in is worth more than the new device you are purchasing, Apple offers an “Apple Gift Card” for the difference.

Apple Trade In Process. Photo: Apple Website

The key benefits for using this program is the ease of handing over your Apple device and then getting a credit for it. Also if your device is destined for the landfill, then Apple will recycle it which is good for the environment.

Questionable Device Evaluations

There isn’t a question that it is convenient to hand over your old device to Apple for a credit towards a new purchase, nor that keeping electronics out of landfills is beneficial for the environment. The current value Apple offers is what is in question. Apple offers an easy reference guide to what it is willing to pay up to.

Current Apple Estimated Trade-In Values. Photo: Apple Website.

Real World Evaluation

The famous quote goes something along the lines of “Value is what people are willing to pay for it”. Let’s take the scenario of a typical Apple customer that would like to upgrade their current iPhone and Apple Watch for the latest models announced last Tuesday.

Current iPhone and Apple WatchOriginal Purchase PriceApple’s Trade-In Offer
iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB$1,959$925*
Apple Watch Series 6 44mm Cellular Stainless Steel$1,049$195**
* Apple’s best-case Estimated trade-in value (the ‘up to’ value)
** As the new ‘Series 7’ is not available yet, Apple indicates “get up to $195 in credit when you trade in your Apple Watch” when purchasing a new watch and this amount was used
Apple Trade-In Values from the Canadian website. Photo: Apple website.

The most prolific reselling marketplace would be eBay. Looking for recent sales for the two items above (i.e., selling in the last week and within Canada/USA) identified a similar iPhone sold today for $1,562 and Apple Watch for $733.

Recent eBay Sales for the latest iPhone and Apple Watch. Photo: Ebay/Completed Sales.

~Retail Insider recommends readers thoroughly research the other risks and processes to sell devices on eBay or other marketplaces prior to listing on them. This is not a guide on how to sell your devices, nor is it intended to inform readers on the risks of selling online.~

Just reviewing the basic comparison for the Apple Trade-In value versus recent eBay sales identified:

Current iPhone and Apple WatchRecent eBay SalesApple’s Trade-In Offer (above)Difference
iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB$1,562$925$637
Apple Watch Series 6 44mm Cellular Stainless Steel$733$195$538

The combined difference of the eBay sale versus Apple Trade-In ‘best-case’ values were $637 (iPhone) and $538 (Apple Watch). The total loss for the customer in this example would be $1,175.

Is the Apple Trade-In Program Worth It?

While there are environmental benefits mentioned, the scenario above would be embracing the ‘reuse’ aspect of recycling so we’ll set aside that ‘benefit’ mentioned by Apple for now. The main benefit mentioned by Apple for the trade-in program was the convenience.

Let us know in the comments below if you feel that accepting $1,175 less than selling the Apple devices on eBay is worth it.

Lee Rivett
Lee Rivett
Lee Rivett, based in Vancouver, supports the digital distribution and technical backend operations of Retail Insider. This includes providing technical support for the editors during the digital publication cycle, streamlining virtual tools for the cross-country team and a variety of other duties which keeps the publication running smoothly.


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