Can I Return my iPhone 5 for the iPhone 5S?

We’ve all been there at some point: you don’t keep up with the update cycle news of products, so when you think it’s the right time to buy a new phone or other device, a new version just came out. It’s an annoying realization, but the world isn’t ending just yet. Depending on where you bought the device, many places will accept returns without a problem.

Specifically, the iPhone 5S was just announced, and it’s officially launching on September 20. It turns out, though, that people are still buying the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S and are now asking how to return it since they found out a newer version was just announced. Luckily, a lot of places are pretty good about returns, but you only have a short window for which you can return an iPhone and get your money back.

Chinese carriers are planning iPhone 5S pre-orders to start next week.

Apple Store

Apple gives customers 30 days to return an iPhone that they purchased from an Apple Store, either online or at one of its physical retail locations. However, the company doesn’t accept returns at a physical location for an iPhone purchased online, so if you bought one online at, you’ll have to ship it back to the company in order to return it.




  • Verizon: Allows customers 14 days to return an iPhone, but there’s a restocking fee of $35 (except for in Hawaii).
  • AT&T: Provides customers a 14-day return policy if they want to return their iPhone. There’s also a restocking fee that costs “up to $35,” but unopened iPhones are waived this fee.
  • Sprint: You have 14 days to return an iPhone, but a $35 restocking fee will be applied, but unopened iPhones will have the restocking fee waived.
  • T-Mobile: Customers have 14 days to return an iPhone that was bought at a discount with a payment plan, or 20 days to return an iPhone that was bought online at For those who purchased an iPhone at full price, you have a full 30 days to return.


If You’re Out of Luck

If the return period has passed, you can still return the iPhone, but you’ll be subject to an early termination fee. However, you can avoid the early termination fee by buying the iPhone 5S at full price contract-free and going to your carrier to have it switched over to the new model. From there, you can then sell your iPhone 5 on eBay, Craigslist, Gazelle or any other place that buys and sells used phones. Arguably, you’ll get the most money out of a phone by selling it on Craigslist, but there’s obviously a lot of spam you’ll have to deal with, as well as scammers.

eBay is probably the easiest route to go to sell an iPhone, but you’ll also be paying a final-value fee that takes a small percentage out of the final price, but you’ll still get more for the device than you would trading it in on Amazon, Gazelle, or at Best Buy, RadioShack, Walmart and even Apple.


    • You will get some money to put toward the new iPhone but not enough to do a simple trade. The full retail price of the iPhone 5s starts at $649. You can probably get $250 for your 5 depending on the size, so it would be about $400 for a 16GB iPhone 5s if you wanted to trade it in.

    • If you got it at an Apple Store, you have 2 weeks to trade it in. If you got it through any of the carriers, you have 2 days to return it, then order the 5c or 5s. This is assuming you have a phone to use in the meanwhile, or can live without it for a week.

    • I got a 4S for my daughter at Best Buy on 9/1 and they give me until the 14th to return it and cancel the upgrade. Then we go back to her old device until the 20th and upgrade to the 5S.(contract with AT&T). They also don’t charge a restocking fee.

  1. I called the apple store and they said that if you have a factory unlocked iphone 5 you will be unable to receive an iphone 5s because the unlocked ones will not come out for at least another month is this true?

  2. There is not any reason to trade in the 5 for the 5s, NONE!!!! Stick with the 5 if your staying with apple, because it’s still the same device, not much of a difference in specs and besides the new os will also be a downgrade. read all the reports and reviews before you give your money away for the same thing twice!

    • Erm…. Get your facts right first. 64 bit processor – fingerprint recognition etc. – total difference to the 5

  3. If your interested in a real upgrade in tech and software, newer camera features and user experiences……give HTC or Samsung a try, quit supporting the tyrant!

  4. I have the I-phone 5 & I have NO desire whatsoever to sell mine & get the 5c or the 5s. Not long after that, the 6 will be out. Apple knows exactly how to pull SOME people in when a newer I-phone comes out. But not everyone thinks they have to have the latest I-phone. I love my 5. Why would I want to get another one. I also have the Samsung Galaxy S-3. I love it. Why would I want the S-4 when it’s almost the exact phone as the 3. As for the cameras on cell phones. Don’t get taken just because a newer version of your cell phone now may be a 10 mpixel & the one you have now is only a 6. Because the higher the megapixels in a camera doesn’t mean it’s a better camera.

  5. Hello everybody, i have iPhone5 but have a problem in the mute key as it hangs sometimes, i bought it from apple retail store in the US on December 2012, can i trade it with iPhone5S knowing that the 5 is still in warranty?!! And if not, do they usually replace it with a new iphone5 or just a refurbished one?!! Thank you for help :)

  6. Helo frnds i buy iphone 5c pink colour but till not open this now i want to change my iphone 5c to 5s. Just 1 week ago till not open plz help me, i can change this phone at. Apple store..

    • same with me.. my insurance company is gona give me iphone5c in couple of days.. how can i swap iphone5c to iphone 5s… is there any way.. my insurance company refuses to do that :(

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