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.