How-To: Selling Your iPhone for Instant Gratification


With the iPhone 3G S on sale in a matter of days, a rush of 3G and original iPhone owners will be selling their phones and upgrading to the new model. If you are planning on selling your current iPhone, there are a few simple steps that can help maximize your resale value.

Before beginning the process of selling your current iPhone, ponder one last time whether it’s a good idea. There’s a lot to like in the new iPhone, but more than a few features are still missing. If you purchased an iPhone 3G last July from AT&T, you will not be eligible for the “standard” upgrade now, incurring $200 in additional cost unless you wait until December. Of course, December will be just six months from the next iteration of the iPhone, so why not just wait until June 2010, for a potential 4G iPhone, possibly on the Verizon LTE network? Obviously that last bit is a little friendly speculation.

So, again, why not just wait until next June? Because I don’t want to.

Setting aside better battery life, a better camera, and a compass with an app that looks like it’s from Myst, the iPhone 3G S is at least 50 percent faster than previous models, and has a better GPU too. From playing games to booting apps to rendering web pages, the extra cost of upgrading now will be saved in time spent using the iPhone 3G S. All that remains is to minimize that upfront cost as much as possible.

Step 1: Presentation

Even before choosing a selling venue, take at least one photo of your current iPhone and everything sold with it. Using a picture of the actual iPhone is superior to an advertising photo in that it both shows the prospective buyers what they are getting and that the phone is working. As you can see in the picture below, the headphones are not included. Frankly, anyone who would buy earbuds with a year’s worth of my ear wax and sweat from the gym coating them is not someone I want to sell to. Or meet. Having said that, you can sell your new headset from the iPhone 3G S with your old phone. It’s your choice, unlike where you’ll likely sell your iPhone.


Woodgrain is a nice background, clutter from your living space, not so much

Step 2: Where to Sell

Love it or hate it, it’s eBay. Sure, if you live in a large city, you can use craigslist, but eBay is the virtual bazaar for most of the planet that wants to buy an iPhone. Last year, eBay had additional rules on selling iPhones, including requiring PayPal for transactions, but not so far this year. Regarding price, the iPhone 3G appears to be going for between $300 and $400 right now, the original model a little less. Of course, you’ll have to decide whether or not to jailbreak the phone, which would likely increase the eventual selling price. Also, opting to sell worldwide will garner higher bids. For me, both those options were outside my personal comfort zone, but I still sold my original iPhone last September for close to $400, which brings us to the details.

Step 3: How to Sell

Apple iPhone 3G 16GB Black *Warranty* *Free Shipping*

That listing, the picture, and a short description is all you need. In the description, I state that my iPhone is in excellent condition, that it is being sold to upgrade to an iPhone 3G S, and that buyers have the “option” of unlocking it. I also state when the warranty will expire. One-year warranties on iPhone 3Gs will start expiring as soon as July 11. Free shipping sets my ad apart from others, and is one less thing prospective buyers have to worry about. Considering the large numbers of used iPhones that will be coming on the market in the next few weeks, opting for a shorter auction makes more sense. It means an ad with fewer days buried behind thousands of others. As for a minimum selling price, I’m going with $300 for an iPhone 3G.

Step 4: Sale, Packing, and Shipping

A lot of people are going to e-mail with questions or propositions of a dubious nature. Stick to your auction rules, which in my case includes selling to U.S. residents with a lot of positive feedback. It goes without saying that you don’t ship until they “paypal you the monies.” Once the sale is made, wipe the iPhone: Settings ? General ? Reset ? Erase all Content and Settings. Remove the SIM card, clean the iPhone thoroughly, then pack it in its box, and pack that box in a larger one filled with styrofoam peanuts or other packing material. Don’t go cheap at the end. For me, that means UPS, a tracking number that I can follow every step of the way, and a signature required for delivery.

Step 5: Count the Cost

Since I do yearly upgrades, I always opt for the low-end iPhone. The retail cost of a 16GB iPhone will be approximately $450, tax and activation fee included. I expect that that my iPhone 3G will net me $350, taking into account shipping and PayPal fees. That means my iPhone 3G S will cost me about a quarter a day over the next year.

That’s a small price to pay for the fastest, most powerful, most hyped iPhone yet.


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