It may not be the mythical iPhone 5, but we won't hold it against you if you still want an iPhone 4S.
Users who want to upgrade should check in with Apple and a slew of other online retailers that are offering money in exchange for used Apple devices.
Through their Reuse and Recycle Program, Apple offers Apple store gift cards in return for your gently worn iPhone. Now that the iPhone 4S is official, customers who currently own a practically new white iPhone 4 stand to make as much as $200 back from Apple, according to The Next Web. Apple gives you the cash, and then resells the product on the secondary electronics market.
Even if your iPhone 3GS is beat-up beyond recognition and has no monetary value, Apple still recycle it for you for free. And it's not just iPhones. Apple's program also lets you cash in on your old iPhone, iPad, and Mac or Windows PCs.
Apple is only one option in the growing gadget recycling and resale market. After Apple's iPhone 4S announcement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for used gadget buyer Gazelle.com told The Huffington Post that people were selling their old iPhones at a rate of one every 15 seconds, resulting in over 5,000 iPhone sales in one day.
Gazelle.com recently raised $22 million from venture capitalists, and grew by 155% last year according the The Wall Street Journal. Part of the reason for their explosive growth is that selling used smartphones, on sites like eBay and Amazon, can be incredibly lucrative. In an article about the site, The Wall Street Journal spoke about its growth with Israel Ganot, CEO of SecondRotation, which operates Gazelle.com. According to WSJ, "The great thing about cellphones, said Ganot, is that customers usually pay a fraction of the cost for a new phone, as they buy it with a new plan, which means that when they resell on Gazelle.com, they recoup the entire cost."
In some cases, iPhone owners may actually be able to get more from Gazelle than from Apple itself. On Wednesday afternoon, Gazelle's price quote for an almost flawless 16GB white iPhone 4 was $250, and that's in cold hard cash, just in case you wanted to use it for something other than an iPhone 4S.
Quotes can vary greatly between the various resale sites, which is why aggregation machines like Ecosquid or Usell are great for seeing estimates from a bunch of gadget resellers all at once. Think of it as Kayak.com, but instead of plane fares you get a list of quotes on that Motorola RAZR you're still hoping is going to be retro cool someday. When we plugged our white iPhone 4 into quote aggregator Ecosquid, the highest offer was $186 from BuyMyTronics. Gazelle.com offered that same price for a device with "normal signs of use."
According to The Wall Street Journal, one of the big reasons people use these sites instead of selling directly on eBay or Craigslist is because they don't want to have to deal with anonymous strangers. However, eBay recently announced its own used electronics buying service, Instant Sale. It works much the same way as the other sites. First, they give you an estimate on your item's value based on a few questions, and then you send it in and they inspect it and give you their final offer, which you can choose to accept or reject.
One of the best aspects of many of these sites, including Gazelle.com and Apple, is that they perform a complete data wipe on each gadget that comes in. In an interview with E-Commerce Times Ganot states, "One of the most important services we provide [is] wiping electronics that customers trade. When consumers send their items to Gazelle, they know their data is safe. Consumers rely on that. It's part of our brand and our trust. It's about doing it every single day. We know that every data breach would affect our brand." All the same, Apple recommends that you erase your data yourself before sending your gadget in, as they do not take responsibility for any breaches of confidentiality resulting from the loss of your data.