A Booming Market for Used iPhones

Wireless companies will trade you an iPhone 5 and send old models abroad
Photograph by Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Apple is expert at stoking desire, seducing consumers to line up and pay a premium for its newest models. At the moment, though, the hottest iPhones are less expensive—and old. Sales of refurbished iPhone 4’s and 4S’s are booming among price-conscious shoppers, especially in fast-growing emerging markets, and U.S. phone companies are racing to outdo one another with trade-in deals for customers willing to part with those models. In April, T-Mobile US launched a promotion that lets iPhone 4 and 4S owners swap for an iPhone 5 with no money down. AT&T countered that offer in mid-May, spotting iPhone 4S owners up to $200, its price for a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5.

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