Apple is separating the new smartphones into its usual low-cost versus high-cost categories, with big differences between the two models coming down to the camera, display, and battery life.
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Apple Lowers Maximum iPhone Trade-In Values, Best Deals Now Limited to Trade-Ins with Purchase
Apple used to offer a maximum of $500 when doing a direct iPhone trade-in through its trade-in website, and just a few weeks ago, we tested trading in an iPhone X and were offered $500 by Apple. Today, Apple's maximum price for the same iPhone X is $349.
Not all iPhones were worth $500, but for newer models in good condition, Apple was indeed providing credit up to $500 in the form of an Apple gift card that could be put towards a new device purchase.
The $349 maximum seems to apply only to direct trade-ins that don't involve a purchase. If you use the trade-in process while purchasing a new iPhone, which puts the cost of that trade-in towards the new device, you can get higher prices.
That same iPhone X that's worth $349 when doing a direct trade-in with Apple is worth $450 if you trade it in while buying a new iPhone XR. At $450, Apple is still offering less than the $500 maximum iPhone trade-in value that was available before, but it's still better than the $349 that's available through the trade-in site.
On its trade-in site, Apple heavily promoted a $449 trade-in price for the iPhone XR when trading in an iPhone 8 or iPhone 7 Plus, but now the advertised pricing is $479 instead of $449. Listed iPhone XR and XS pricing with trade-in has gone up across the board as Apple has dropped trade-in values for all iPhones.
With Apple's direct trade-in pricing drops, Apple is no longer offering some of the best iPhone trade-in pricing, and it may not be worth an iPhone trade-in through Apple unless it's done when you're purchasing a new iPhone.
If you do a trade-in while purchasing a new device, you can get up to $450 for an iPhone X, up to $350 for an iPhone 8 Plus, up to $270 for an iPhone 8 or 7 Plus, and up to $200 for an iPhone 7 or 6s Plus. Other devices have trade-in values below $200.
Apple has a prominent section on all iPhone purchase pages that asks "Do you have an iPhone to trade in?" and if you select yes, you can go through the steps to get the upgraded pricing.
Trade-in pricing on other devices has also dropped. Apple now offers a maximum of $367 for tablet trade-ins, up to $965 when trading in a computer, and up to $173 when trading in an Apple Watch. That's down from $405 for tablets, $1100 for computers, and $191 for an Apple Watch. Trade-in values do not differ on non-iPhone products between the trade-in site and a trade-in with purchase.
The new trade-in pricing system is confusing and could potentially lead to some customers getting lower value for their iPhones if they're not aware of the disparity in pricing between doing a direct trade-in through Apple's trade-in page and doing a trade-in when purchasing a new iPhone.
Apple's new direct trade-in pricing is comparative to trade-in pricing from other sites like Gazelle, but you're always going to get the best price selling direct on a site like eBay or Swappa.