How desperate are iPhone (s aapl) owners to upgrade to iPhone 5? In the last two weeks, capped off by Wednesday morning’s report that the announcement of the new device may come on Oct. 4, there’s been a rather sudden uptick in people looking to sell their old iPhones. Gadget trade-in site Gazelle.com said Wednesday morning that as iPhone 5 rumors have flown fast and furious that number has risen 85 percent. It’s highly unusual for phone owners to sell their old iPhones before the new one is available for sale, much less publicly acknowledged by the company to exist.
On Tuesday Gazelle saw its highest iPhone trade-in volume since last year, when the iPhone 4 was still new and many were upgrading. The company is on pace to buy back 2,500 iPhones this week, said Gazelle’s chief gadget officer Anthony Scarsella in an interview Wednesday. That’s a big jump from the weeks before the iPhone 4 announcement in 2010, when that site was getting 100 iPhones per day pre-announcement, he says.
Gazelle is one of several sites, like Nextworth and eBay Instant Sale, that will pay individuals for old electronics based on the condition they’re in.
Within an hour of last year’s iPhone 4 introduction Gazelle had already bought 3,000 old iPhones from people looking to upgrade, and by the end of the day that number had went up to 10,000. This week’s spate of iPhone owners who are looking to sell before any sort of official announcement has been made indicates a level of anticipation for a single gadget the company has never seen.
“It’s really unprecedented behavior,” Scarsella said. “Usually gadget owners, especially with phones, they wait [to sell back] until the new one is announced.”
Apple hasn’t introduced a new iPhone since June 2010, so it’s not that surprising customers used to upgrading every year or even every two years, appear to be getting a bit antsy. Still, the anticipation hasn’t exactly hurt Apple. Despite being 15 months old, the iPhone 4 is still as of earlier this month the top-selling smartphone on AT&T (s t) and Verizon (s vzw).