To some it feels like the iPhone 7 has only just come out, but many will be considering selling theirs to pay for an iPhone X. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
The iPhone X is coming soon, and if you want to be able to afford it, you have three options: travel back in time and buy a shedload of bitcoin; sell a kidney; or sell your existing phone and hope you get a good price.
That third option is probably the best. But if you haven’t sold a phone, it can be daunting: may people like to hang on to their old model, “just in case”, and even if it just sits gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, that’s less stressful than having to deal with exchanging cash on the internet.
Good news, then. It’s generally quite easy to sell a phone online these days. Comparison sites such as Sell My Mobile allow you to pit the numerous resale sites against each other: currently, for instance, Phones 2 Pounds will offer you £272 for a 128GB iPhone 6s, while Money for your Phone will give you the best price for the Plus version of the same vintage – £276.
For those looking for a bit more cash, eBay remains the best place to turn. The same phone that will net you £272 from Phones 2 Pounds is selling for around £400 on the online marketplace – and prices for faulty or otherwise damaged phones are also pretty good, even cracked and smashed phones going for more than £200.
It’s also hugely popular. According to the company, “iPhone” has been the most popular search term on the entire site over the last year, with sales exceeding £1bn over the same period. The increase in buyers is evened out by the increase in sellers, so don’t expect the demand to boost your earnings too much, but the liquid market means you can be certain you’ll sell.
The downside is that eBay carries a bit more risk than the commercial buyers. The site’s anti-fraud mechanisms are weighed heavily in the buyer’s favour, making it important to do things by the book on the off chance that you end up the victim of a scammer (or just an overly demanding buyer). That means documenting everything, posting the phone through recorded delivery, and taking care to note suspicious signs from buyers – like requests to ship to PO Boxes, or strange payment methods. If you want to get the highest price, then Sunday evenings are the most popular time to browse for a new phone, eBay says – so make sure your auction ends that night.
Regardless of which way you want to do it, it may be worth either selling your phone a bit before, or a while after, the iPhone X comes out. A glut in supply can serve to drive prices down, as everyone races to upgrade at the same time.
“After the release of the iPhone 7 in September 2016, iPhone 6 and 6s dropped by an average of £43 or 13%,” said a spokesperson from Sell My Mobile. “We expected the same with this latest release but the depreciation has actually not been as sharp as anticipated. We attribute this to people holding on to their handsets as the 8 failed to set the market on fire and Apple fans possibly are waiting to see how the X compares when it is released later in the year.
“Phone shoppers are savvier than ever before when it comes to upgrading with so much choice in the market, and handset providers need to work harder to wow them. Whilst the optimum time has passed, there is still significant money to be made, on Apple as well as other handsets, and the longer you wait, the less you will inevitably get.”
It’s not like you’re going to be able to pick up the £999 phone at launch anyway – supply is expected to be heavily constrained.