How to Sell Your iPhone 4 to Pay for an iPhone 5

Apple’s getting ready to announce the iPhone 5 on October 4th, if the latest rumors are true, and will likely put it up for sale within the month. But paying for an iPhone 5 can put a dent in your wallet. You can soften the blow by selling your iPhone 4 before the iPhone 5 is officially announced through services like Gazelle. In fact, you can offset the entire purchase price of a new iPhone by selling your old one.

Gazelle, Nextworth and similar services buy used gadgets, clean them up and resell them. The great thing about using services is that they’re relatively hassle-free compared to selling via services like eBay and Cragislist. You know exactly how much cash you’re going to get and you don’t have to deal with strangers and complaints.

There are plenty of services that will buy gadgets from you, including big-name retailers, but my go-to service is Gazelle. They always seem to have good offers and they make the whole process a breeze. I’ve sold old camera equipment, iPhones and iPads to them.

The key to getting the best value from Gazelle and other services is beating the crowds. Most people interested in upgrading to the iPhone 5 from the iPhone 4 will wait until Apple makes an official announcement. After all, it’s good to know what features your new phone will have before ditching your old one. But the problem with waiting is that everyone else will be trying to sell their old iPhones at the same time and the value of the obsolete devices will nose dive.

To get started, just head over to Search for “iPhone 4” in the search bar and select your device from the drop down. Be sure to select the proper carrier and capacity.

Next, select the condition of your iPhone. Gazelle will pay a premium for a flawless used iPhone 4, but about 90% of iPhones fall into the good category. The current offering for an iPhone 4 that runs on AT&T and has a 32GB capacity is $241. The same iPhone in flawless condition will net you $310. If the iPhone isn’t functional you’ll only get $85 for it.

Another nice thing about Gazelle is that you can select PayPal, check or Amazon gift card as your payment method. You can score an extra 5% by turning your used iPhone 4 into an Amazon gift card. You’ll have to tell Gazelle where to send you money after selecting your payment method.

Gazelle will send you a box with a pre-paid shipping label by default, which means you don’t have to track one down your own. Once you receive your box you just throw your old iPhone in it, and drop it off at the post office.

But wait. Who wants to send their iPhone off before they have a shiny new iPhone 5? Nobody. That’s why you’ll actually want to hold onto the box and your iPhone 4 until you secure your iPhone 5 and transfer everything over to it. Gazelle’s offers are good for 30 days. That gives you a lot of leeway, enabling you to get today’s selling price without selling it until after the official iPhone 5 announcement.

Gazelle seems to have reduced the number of steps it takes to sell a device since I sold my original iPad earlier this year, and my iPhone last year. Previously,Gazelle asked if your Apple devices had their original boxes and power adapters. The company doesn’t ask as many questions, instead just lumping everything into the broken, good and flawless categories.

Before you rush off and sell your iPhone 4 ahead of the iPhone 5 announcement, be sure to check with AT&T or Verizon to see if you’re eligible for an upgrade for each iPhone on your account. Both my wife and I purchased iPhone 4s on the same day, but only I’m eligible for an upgrade, while she will have to wait until February 25, 2012. Of course you can always buy an iPhone 5 off contract, but you’ll need to budget an extra $300 or so.

If you hope to rush out and get rich off of selling all of your old gadgets you’re going to be disappointed.  While Gazelle and its competitors always seem to offer great values on iPhones and iPads, offers on other gadgets can be disappointing. For example, my MacBook Air that’s less than a year old is only worth $542, even though it’s flawless and cost about $2,000 less than a year ago.