Do you all use the "trade-in for a new one" service when changing phones?

Experience and Insights on Apple’s Renewal Services

I have not yet experienced the “trade-in” service.

Apple officially launched the “iPhone Upgrade Program” and Trade In services.

For those who change to a new iPhone every year and want to get the latest iPhone as soon as possible without scrambling online, such as purchasing the highly sought-after iPhone 15 Pro series, iPhone 14 Pro series.

With the iPhone Upgrade Program, you can easily upgrade to a new iPhone every year and enjoy the protection of AppleCare+ service plan. Just trade in your iPhone within the upgrade eligibility period, and you can get at least 50% of the original retail price of this device as a discount on the purchase of a new iPhone.

The “iPhone Upgrade Program” includes many protections and renewal services under AppleCare+, saving a lot of hassle. Of course, if you can grab the new iPhone at its launch, you can use the latest model iPhone every year and enjoy at least a 50% discount.

AppleCare+ service itself is not cheap, with the iPhone 15 Pro series priced at $1599, but Care+’s protection is substantial.

  • Unlimited accidental purchase damage warranty service (including screen damage, accidental drops, and liquid damage)
  • Priority access to Apple experts
  • Hardware repairs.

For more details, see: iPhone Upgrade Program

Another scenario is trading in an old phone to purchase a new one, getting a discount.

If you have many iPhones or even Android phones, they can also be traded in for a discount on a new device.

The valuation given by Apple is generally slightly lower than third-party recycling prices, but it feels not quite worth it. The main reason is the convenience of Apple’s services, where you can pick a new iPhone at an Apple Store and then handle data synchronization. At this point, having two phones seems a bit superfluous. Many users choose this trade-in service before buying, which is the “trade-in” service.

My personal iPhone is usually still usable, with the battery capacity generally around 85%, making the old iPhone a viable backup device or even something to consider for family use. If a family member has a suitable phone to use, trading it in to Apple is also a viable option.

Currently, the discount before purchasing a new phone is about 4300 yuan, which actually seems reasonable.

iPhone 13 Pro 256G, the price was about 8799 yuan two years ago.

If purchasing a used iPhone 13 Pro, the price would likely be higher, but now it’s probably rare for students to consider spending 5000+ on an iPhone 13 Pro.

If the price is right, considering the “iPhone Upgrade Program” and “trade-in” services is still a good option, as well as using it as a backup device.

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My Smartphone Journey and Handling Old Devices

Since 2012, I’ve been part of the “dual-phone club,” starting with an iPhone 5 and Xiaomi Mi 2. Later, I transitioned to using dual iPhones, starting with the iPhone 5S. Then came a phase of using both iOS and Android devices simultaneously. There was even a period when I had three phones, but eventually, I returned to being a dual-phone user. Throughout this journey, I’ve had to deal with a lot of “old devices.” Let me share my experiences of upgrading and handling these old phones.

Dual iPhones and the A1528 Incident

I initially had dual iPhones, with one being the A1528, a model infamous for not supporting mobile carrier China Mobile’s 4G network. It was only after China Mobile launched the A1530 that supported 4G that I realized A1528’s limitations. A1528 was essentially for China Unicom contracts. So, I ended up getting an A1530 from Hong Kong. During my “dual iPhone” phase, I would upgrade one of my iPhones every year.

Brief Android Interlude with Xiaomi and Return to iOS+Android

At one point, I tried switching to Android with the Xiaomi Note (the top-tier version). However, I encountered issues with the device’s power button, which led to its return. It wasn’t until I got a Huawei Mate 9 that I returned to Android, once again balancing iOS and Android devices. When I saw Xiaomi’s “100-megapixel” camera on the Mi 10 Pro, I couldn’t resist, becoming a “triple-phone user” with Xiaomi, Huawei, and Apple devices. During this phase, my “annual upgrade” essentially became an annual replacement of one of these three phones.

Staying Put with Mate 30 Porsche Design

I stopped upgrading my Huawei after the Mate 30 Porsche Design because there were no 5G products available at that time. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro was upgraded to the 12S Ultra. Before the summer (in May), I decided to sell the Mate 30 Porsche Design. Carrying three phones during the summer was inconvenient, and my pockets weren’t spacious enough. So, I reverted to being a “dual-phone user.”

I mention all this to highlight that I’ve had to “deal with” an old device almost every year.

Where Did These Old Devices Go?

Let’s discuss what happened to these “old devices” in four phases:

  1. Local Offline Recycling: When I worked in a certain city, there were local offline recycling shops. They offered high buyback prices for Apple devices still under warranty, typically around two-thirds of the new device’s price. During that time, I upgraded almost every year.

  2. Handing Down to Family: After leaving that city, I no longer had access to such recycling channels, so I mostly gave my old devices to family members. These phones were in excellent condition due to my meticulous use of screen protectors and cases. My relatives would often ask, “Have you even used this phone? It looks brand new!” Since older family members don’t upgrade their phones frequently, my old devices found new homes.

  3. Online Recycling and Trade-In: I relied on online recycling platforms, mainly a popular e-commerce platform in China. For several years, whenever I wanted to upgrade, I’d send my old phone back through this platform and receive a trade-in value along with some platform incentives. However, my experience with recycling Mate 30 Porsche Design in May this year was unpleasant. Despite their “official (partner) recycling” process typically pointing out minor flaws and reducing the quoted price (which was still acceptable), this time they were exceptionally harsh. They lowered the price significantly for a phone that had no significant issues. The initial quote was 17XX, which I couldn’t accept. After some negotiation, I reluctantly agreed to continue the transaction, but it was clear that their “finding faults” was arbitrary and the price was “negotiable.” Though I proceeded with the trade-in, I have no intention of dealing with them in the future. This incident might be an exception, but it was my personal experience.

  4. Apple’s Trade-In Program: When I upgraded from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the 15 Pro Max, I used Apple’s official trade-in program. Surprisingly, the experience was excellent for several reasons:

    • They offered a high quote, exceeding both the market’s “second-hand buyback” prices and unofficial second-hand trading platforms.
    • They didn’t fuss over minor issues. As long as the phone turned on and had no significant damage or scratches, they didn’t reduce the quoted price. I went through two trade-ins (including a MacBook 12-inch notebook), and both times, I received the full quoted amount. Several friends also used the trade-in program based on my recommendation and had similar positive experiences with no issues or price reductions.
    • You could get the new phone first and return the old one within 14 days. This flexibility was convenient for transferring data and ensuring the new phone was problem-free.

This summarizes my upgrade frequency and how I handled old devices. I hope this information is helpful to others.

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My Experience with Apple’s Trade-In Programs

Yes, I’ve been a long-term user of Apple’s trade-in programs, and I’d like to share my personal insights based on my many years of practical experience.

In general, “trade-in” services may not offer the highest returns, but they strike the best balance between returns and peace of mind.

If you have ample time and energy, I wouldn’t recommend using trade-in services. Official trade-in services often offer lower buyback rates compared to what you might get by selling your device on third-party used platforms. Doing it yourself can save you more money when upgrading.

However, if you’re short on time and want a hassle-free way to quickly sell your old device, you should definitely consider Apple’s official trade-in services.

Apple offers two types of trade-in services: the “Upgrade Every Year” service and the officially outsourced “Trade In” service. These two models have significant differences. If the “Upgrade Every Year” service is Apple’s flagship, then the officially outsourced “Trade In” service is more like an adopted child.

Let’s Start with the “Upgrade Every Year” Service

Apple’s “Upgrade Every Year” service is a well-rounded option.

Participation is straightforward:

  • First-time participation: Pay the full price of the current iPhone model, add AppleCare+ and service costs.
  • Subsequent years: The previous year’s iPhone price is refunded as a deduction toward the new phone’s price; AppleCare+ service costs are based on the number of days you used your phone (two-year average daily cost multiplied by actual days used). The price for the remaining unused days is refunded to your original payment method within 14 business days.
  • Note: Subsequent-year participation follows the standard yearly upgrade practice, but you can start upgrading as early as the third month.

Compared to third-party “used device buyback” services or selling on second-hand platforms, Apple’s official trade-in service eliminates the risk of receiving a lower offer than expected. As long as the screen and back glass panel are intact, Apple doesn’t mind any dents, scratches, or performance issues. They will buy it back at a flat 50% of the official price. However, if there are issues with the screen or back glass panel, you need to pay either 188 or 688 for repairs before participating in the “Upgrade Every Year” service.

Even Apple’s Outsourced “Trade In” Service Has Its Risks.

This is because the “Trade-In” program is outsourced to a third-party company called Aifengpai (i.e., Lovefone). The evaluation price provided by Apple is just a reference, and the final price is determined by Aifengpai. The risk of receiving less than expected still exists.

There have been cases where Apple estimated the MacBook Pro at 4200, but Aifengpai assessed it at 0 after it was sent in. In such cases, Apple merely acts as an intermediary, and the contract is between the consumer and Aifengpai.

Furthermore, if you disagree with the assessment after sending in your device, there’s a certain level of risk because, at that point, your device is in the hands of a third party, and you can’t guarantee that the device sent back to you will be the exact one you sent.

If you intend to use Apple’s trade-in services, it’s advisable to visit a physical store rather than opting for mail-in trade-ins. This minimizes the risk of unexpected assessment outcomes.

My Approach to Upgrading Smartphones

Let me make it clear that I don’t consider using smartphone manufacturers' trade-in services. This year, I just upgraded to the iPhone 15 Pro, and once again, I opted to sell my old phone on a platform like Idle Fish (a popular Chinese marketplace) rather than using the manufacturer’s trade-in service.

I believe that when most people upgrade their phones, they have three options:

  1. The first option is to either discard the old phone or keep it at home. This choice is suitable for most well-off individuals who view their old phones as sentimental items. To them, the small amount they could get from selling their old phones is not worth the hassle. Of course, if you’re someone involved in sensitive government or military work and your phone contains classified information, you’ll need to destroy it to ensure data security. Selling such a phone would be illegal and could risk national security.

  2. The second option is to purchase a new phone and then sell the old one through platforms like Idle Fish or other channels. The advantage of this choice is that it maximizes your return on investment because Idle Fish prices, in general, tend to be higher than trade-in offers. However, the downside is that it requires more effort, and people with limited financial means, like me, often choose to sell their old phones on Idle Fish.

  3. The third option is to participate in a trade-in program. The benefits of trading in your old phone are self-evident: it’s convenient, and you can use the value of your old phone to offset the cost of the new one. This option is suitable for people who want to recover some money from their old phone but don’t have the time to deal with the selling process.

However, the trade-in mechanism does have its issues, which is why I, and people like me, are hesitant to use it. Firstly, in trade-in events, the prices of new phones are often inflated. For example, Apple’s official trade-in program requires you to purchase the new iPhone at its full price, which means the trade-in value ends up being a small fraction of the original price. When compared to platforms like Pinduoduo with billion-yuan subsidies or with discounted prices, Apple’s official prices are significantly higher. Another point to consider is that smartphone recycling platforms often engage in malicious price reductions after receiving the phones. Lately, there have been frequent reports in the news about recycling companies receiving old iPhones, claiming they are not worth as much as initially thought, and then offering lower trade-in prices, making what should be a hassle-free process quite troublesome. Lastly, the trade-in prices for old phones are often lower than what you could get on platforms like Idle Fish, so, relatively speaking, using your old phone directly or selling it on a platform might be more cost-effective.

As for myself, I currently see no compelling reasons to choose the trade-in service for old phones. If, in the future, the trustworthiness of old phone recycling platforms improves, and the prices offered are competitive with Idle Fish prices, I may reconsider using a trade-in service.

Trade-In Programs: Pros and Cons

Most manufacturer’s official “trade-in” programs are typically conducted in collaboration with companies that specialize in used electronics recycling, such as “Love Recycle.”

For example, companies like and Apple.

The profit model for businesses like “Love Recycle” is quite simple: they “buy low, sell high” to make a profit.

For instance, they might buy an iPhone from you for $2000 and then sell it for $2400.

However, trade-in programs are not without controversy, with the most common issues being opaque pricing and unfair assessments.

Recycling platforms receive complaints for two main reasons:

  • The pricing offered for trade-in is not transparent. These platforms often estimate the value of a product based on factors such as brand, model, appearance, and functionality, but the specific calculation method is not disclosed, leaving consumers feeling they might be getting a raw deal.
  • Assessments can be unfair. When appraising products, recycling platforms may introduce subjective factors that lead to differences between the estimated and actual values. For instance, some platforms may exaggerate defects in a product to lower the trade-in price.

For example, the recent controversy surrounding “Yin-Yang Contracts.”

Therefore, while trade-in programs save consumers the hassle of selling their old devices themselves, they may also entail some “profit loss.”

This decision depends on individual circumstances.

If time is of the essence, then trade-in is a good choice. Recycling platforms can complete the assessment and transaction in just a few minutes, eliminating the cumbersome process of selling old devices.

However, if maximizing profits is a priority, selling the old device personally may be a better option. By selling it yourself, you can get a higher price. But this comes with the cost of time and effort, including cleaning the product, taking photos, posting listings, and communicating with potential buyers.

Both trade-in and personal sales of old devices have their advantages and disadvantages. Combining these two methods can yield the best results.

If a consumer’s unused product is a popular item, in high demand, they can confidently sell it on a second-hand platform. Such products usually have significant market demand, allowing consumers to fetch higher prices.

However, if an item has been sitting around unused for a long time with no interest from buyers, consider the following factors:

  • Is the price reasonable? If the price is too high, it can deter potential buyers.
  • Is there enough demand? Even with a reasonable price, a lack of demand can make it difficult to sell.

If the price seems fair, it’s likely that demand is the issue. In such cases, it’s advisable to sell the item to a recycling platform sooner rather than later. For electronic products, every day you delay could result in a decrease in value.

Additionally, when dealing with recycling businesses, it’s a good idea to contact multiple providers. If a business calls you to claim there are flaws and wants to lower the price, be firm in your response. Mention that you have taken photos and recorded videos of the product, and if they refuse, you can ask for a refund or file a complaint. They will usually agree to review the case and provide a fair price.

Trade-In Programs: Is It Worth It?

Not every phone is worth using the trade-in function; don’t be a victim of bad deals.

A few days ago, I was browsing the Apple website, holding my 2020 iPad Pro. It still works, but it’s showing some signs of age. It’s fully functional, but it has a few dings in the corners, leaving minor marks. I saw the latest iPad Pro, shiny and brand new, exactly what I wanted. However, the price is quite steep!

After much contemplation, I decided to check how much I could get for my old iPad Pro through the “trade-in” program. So, with excitement, I clicked on the trade-in page and entered the information about my old iPad as prompted:

First, the model was automatically recognized by the system. Then came the usage condition—everything was good! Next was the exterior condition—with minor dings. Finally, I submitted the review!

Congratulations, your iPad is eligible for a trade-in, valued at 400 Chinese Yuan (RMB)!

I couldn’t believe it!

I immediately closed the trade-in purchase page. Is my tablet only worth 400 RMB? That can’t be right! It wasn’t until I opened the Xianyu (a popular resale platform) app and entered my tablet’s model and condition that I saw an average listing price of 3500+ RMB. It finally dawned on me that it wasn’t my tablet that had little value; it was the trade-in program offering a terrible deal!

Of course, this is just a very real example from everyday life. It’s not only Apple’s official website that does this; other digital brands' trade-in programs for phones, cameras, tablets, and computers all lowball the depreciation value to an infuriating extent!

Why Trade-In Programs Are a Ripoff, Yet Some Still Choose Them

In my view, if businesses operate this way, there’s no need to use trade-in programs. Isn’t selling your old device yourself a better deal? These programs are simply an attempt to cater to those who are unwilling to deal with the hassle, potential risks, and uncertainties of selling secondhand products. This is especially true for individuals with no experience selling used items, as they may easily fall prey to lowball offers or scams. Consequently, some people prefer to use the trade-in programs offered by the original brand, despite the lower payouts. They see it as a safer and more reliable option, and they have the option to decline the offered price and get their item back.

It makes sense theoretically, but the reality is quite harsh. I can tolerate selling my device for a few hundred RMB less than the secondhand market price, but not a fraction of it! Personally, I’m willing to take the risk of selling it as secondhand; there’s no gain without risk! Making money isn’t easy, especially when it comes to pricey digital products. You should aim to maximize the last bit of residual value from them.

Regarding trade-in services, if you can accept the terms, that’s fine. If you can’t, I recommend going through the hassle of selling secondhand. I also hope that businesses can increase the trade-in value of their services. After all, these products are already sold to us at a substantial profit; there’s no need to further squeeze our resources from worn-out items…

Consider Your Options: 5 Recommendations

    1. For flagship phones that are less than 6 months to 1 year old and hold their value, it’s not advisable to use the trade-in program. In such cases, selling it on resale platforms or passing it to friends can be more profitable.
    1. Low-priced second-hand phones depreciate quickly, and their trade-in value is low, especially after the initial sale period. It’s not recommended to use the trade-in program in such cases.
    1. If you’ve used a flagship phone for a long time and want to upgrade, consider using the trade-in program, but make sure your device is well-maintained and without major flaws to maximize its trade-in value.
    1. If you have no other way to dispose of your old device, you can use the trade-in program directly. The main advantage is convenience. It’s best to go through official channels to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to your personal data.
    1. Don’t expect to get a good price for high-end models when selling low-priced second-hand phones.

Note: The discussion above pertains to mainstream smartphones from the past three to five years. Vintage or outdated phones usually don’t fetch much money and are not recommended for trade-in due to privacy concerns.

If you’re considering retiring your old phone and using the trade-in program, make sure to avoid the following scams.

1. Trade-In or Recycling Services from Unverified Sources

Often, individuals pretend to be agents for major platforms, setting up large banners or signs at temporary booths or storefronts, or even distributing flyers to lure people in. They try to convince you with appealing promises, but in the end, they might offer an extremely low valuation.

While the desire to recycle and get a good deal is natural, scammers tend to exaggerate and offer too-good-to-be-true incentives. You may consider yourself lucky to spot such an opportunity, but the final valuation could be a huge disappointment.

Elderly individuals are often easy targets, and even young people, unwilling to face the hassle, sometimes accept these deals. When they compare the offered trade-in price or subsidy with official platforms, they realize how much they’ve been deceived. These scams may also involve selling you new devices that are actually difficult to resell, or even refurbished devices passed off as new.

2. Inflating Expectations and Then Significantly Lowering Valuation

This is a common tactic online and offline. When you first contact a recycling or trade-in service, they provide you with a generous initial estimate. As you send in your device for inspection, they meticulously scrutinize it and find various faults, which significantly reduce the initial valuation.

People tend to get attached to the initial high estimate and envision themselves buying a new device with it. When their expectations are shattered, they may give in and accept the reduced offer, especially if it’s a face-to-face transaction to avoid embarrassment.

If you’re more level-headed and assertive, you may not yield and insist on the original valuation. Some online service providers offer free return shipping (restoring the device to its original condition). However, this back-and-forth process can lead to potential issues with your device.

My friend once refused to accept a significantly lower price after the inspection. When the device was returned, he discovered that the back cover was cracked. At this point, seeking compensation from the service provider was challenging, as they had valid reasons for the reduction. So, it’s best to record a video as evidence before sending your device.

In summary, it’s easier to buy than to sell. Even with recorded evidence, internal device alterations are hard to detect. In such cases, official channels offer more reliability.

“To Knowledge”

I personally rarely use trade-in services, and from my observation, few people around me use them as well. This includes a friend who upgrades to the latest iPhone Pro Max every year but doesn’t use Apple’s trade-in service.

In fact, most e-commerce platforms like a certain e-commerce platform rely on third-party services for their trade-in programs. For example, the trade-in program for iPhones on this platform is provided in partnership with Love Recycling, as shown in the image below.

As for Apple’s “iPhone Renewal Every Year” program, it essentially means a 50% depreciation in one year, and very few people choose this option.

What’s particularly abstract now is that Apple’s official trade-in prices are sometimes even higher than those offered by third parties or for used devices. Additionally, the aforementioned e-commerce platform, despite being self-operated, doesn’t offer any discounts when purchasing iPhones.

Speaking from my own experience with a 256GB Chinese iPhone 12, in perfect condition, this e-commerce platform would only offer me ¥2200, while Apple’s official trade-in would give me ¥2300. However, the same device is currently selling for less than ¥2000 on a certain resale platform.

Moreover, regardless of the recycling organization, prices for old devices are lowered if they have a history of damage or repairs. This means that many devices aren’t worth recycling. For instance, my iPhone 12 underwent third-party repairs for Face ID and the battery, and now the internal screen has some damage. In this condition, the e-commerce platform offers only ¥800, and Apple’s official trade-in offers ¥575, both of which are lower than the price I could get by selling it directly as used. In fact, many devices have undergone third-party repairs like this because, beyond the warranty or Apple Care+ period, Apple’s official repair prices are quite high, except for some devices that can be replaced outright.

You might wonder why I’m only talking about iPhones. In the current second-hand and recycling market, whether you accept it or not, iPhone and HUAWEI devices have their own pricing systems. Although iPhones are depreciating, their resale value is still relatively high. In my case, my iPhone 12 still retains 30% of its original price.

But when it comes to other Android brands:

A flagship Android device priced at ¥6999 last year, in perfectly normal condition with top-tier specs, can only be traded in for 40% of its original price after just one year. In such cases, almost no one chooses to trade in because even selling it on a certain resale platform would yield a higher return. Moreover, a certain Android device, which originally sold for ¥15,000 under a ¥10 billion subsidy, is currently priced at just ¥8500. Whichever way you look at it, using the trade-in program is not cost-effective.

Now that the average phone replacement cycle has been extended to three years, many people only upgrade when their current phone becomes unusable. After that, the old phone often serves as a backup device, and trade-in opportunities are virtually nonexistent throughout its life cycle.

“Regarding Trade-Ins”

If you trade in an old device while getting a new one, it counts as two transactions. One is using the annual renewal program, and the other is Trade-In.

First, let’s talk about the two instances of annual renewal.

The annual renewal was used to exchange an iPhone 11 Pro Max for an iPhone 12 Pro Max. At that time, the iPhone 12 Pro Max was hard to come by, and I managed to reserve one on the official website. I wasn’t entirely clear on the difference between Trade-In and annual renewal back then. Also, my data had already been transferred to the iPhone X, so it was possible to trade in the device directly at the store without data transfer hassles.

When I went to the store, I expected to hand over the old device to Apple for recycling. The staff checked and said that it qualified for annual renewal, which meant a few hundred more than the regular Trade-In. So, I went through the annual renewal process and traded it in.

I recall that the annual renewal program was introduced around the time of the iPhone X release. It was initially available only at self-operated retail stores, and it required upgrading from AppleCare to AppleCare+. Later, you could also join by purchasing online.

Back then, I wasn’t familiar with the annual renewal process, but this upgrade enlightened me about its value. The main advantage was that it offered a higher recycling price compared to regular Trade-In.

Now, let’s discuss the Trade-In experience.

Trade-In was used to exchange an iPhone 12 for an iPhone 13 Pro Max after the annual renewal period had passed. I didn’t want to bother with other second-hand recycling places, as Apple’s self-operated retail store accepts devices without considering minor scratches or wear. They offer a standard Trade-In price as long as there is no damage, which might be slightly lower than other second-hand options but more convenient.

So, I reserved an iPhone 13 Pro Max online, went to the store, and they immediately traded in the iPhone 12. All the data had been backed up in advance, so it was a quick process. The price wasn’t very high in hindsight. Now, I realize that I could have spent some time checking nearby second-hand stores for a better price, possibly getting a few hundred more.

What about the remaining iPhones? Over the years, I’ve used several iPhone models, most of which I gave to family members. Currently, I only have an iPhone 4S and an iPhone X sitting idle. I’m considering recycling the iPhone X soon; otherwise, it will continue to depreciate.

As for the third instance of selling a phone, it was a Huawei Mate X2. I used it for seven months and found it too heavy to handle. I sold it for approximately ¥10,000, resulting in a loss of nearly ¥8,000. I learned my lesson and became more cautious about buying products I’m interested in.

Will I continue to use Trade-In in the future? Probably, but I might first inquire at local stores to see how much they offer for recycling. If their prices are higher than the official ones, I might choose to recycle locally.

However, there are risks involved:

  1. If you first buy a new phone and then go to a local recycling point to trade in, you’ll lose the eligibility for Trade-In and annual renewal because you won’t be buying anything at that point.

  2. If you first sell the old phone and then buy a new one, you’ll need to find a way to back up your data. Currently, my backup devices are too old, and there’s not enough space on my MacBook for a backup.

  3. If you first buy and then sell, and the price at that time is lower than the annual renewal/Trade-In price, you won’t be able to choose annual renewal or Trade-In.

I haven’t found a perfect solution, so if you have any suitable ideas, please share them.


“Trade-In Practices”

Yes, whether it’s official or not, I always go for “trade-ins” whenever I change my phone. Just during the 618 shopping event, I switched to the new iPhone 14, and I sold my old iPhone SE to a colleague for 500 yuan.

Of course, my “trade-in” approach differs slightly from the official one. The main distinction is that when I handle it myself (whether selling to a colleague or listing it on a resale platform), I often get a higher price than what the official trade-in offers. For example, my iPhone SE was valued at only 300 yuan according to the official trade-in price. However, the official trade-in has its advantages too, mainly in terms of convenience. After all, selling it yourself involves time and communication costs.

I consider myself to be relatively patient, as I use my phones for at least three years. If you check online resale platforms like “Xianyu,” you’ll find that many financially comfortable users change their phones every year as soon as new models are released. So, it’s common to see one-year-old phones on the market that are still in good condition. Therefore, I believe that “trade-ins” are a prevalent practice, not an exception.

As for official “trade-ins,” I’m not very familiar with other platforms, but Apple’s iPhone trade-in program on their website seems suitable for those who want installment plans. Especially with the 24-month interest-free option, along with the trade-in discount, it becomes the top choice for budget-conscious buyers. The sequential deductions mean you can own your dream phone for just over a hundred yuan as the down payment (although you’ll have to pay later).

Of course, Apple also has an “annual upgrade” program, which is an enhanced version of the regular trade-in. Simply put, by joining this program, you can upgrade your purchased iPhone between the 3rd and 15th month after purchase, enjoying up to a 50% discount on the original price.

For example, let’s say you bought an iPhone 15 for 5999 yuan on the Apple website during the Double 11 sale in 2023. Then, when the iPhone 16 comes out the following year, and you want to use the annual upgrade program to get a new one. If your phone is in a nearly undamaged condition (the specific criteria for undamaged should be provided by Apple), you can get at least a 2999 yuan discount.

Of course, all of this is subject to your enrollment in the AppleCare+ service plan. Considering the cost of this plan, if you’re not eager to upgrade your phone every year, it may not be cost-effective. After all, AppleCare+ can cost as much as 1199 yuan for a two-year plan or even more. If you’re only buying it to upgrade annually, it might not be worthwhile.

“Trade-In Practices and the Evolving Smartphone Landscape”

Between 2014 and 2017, due to my involvement in reviewing smartphones, I seldom bought regular phones like iPhones. Back then, as a tester for Aifan Technology, my daily life revolved around interacting with smartphones, tablets, and cameras. So, when it came to personal use, I opted for devices that excelled in one particular aspect.

For instance, the BlackBerry Passport had the highest screen brightness at the time, staying above 800 nits continuously. Its camera produced exceptional results, including night shots, and it featured a touch-sensitive keyboard.

The Marshall London Phone offered the best audio quality, boasting a stereo separation of over 90 dB, which was quite impressive. It had a beautifully customized interface, and I often used it as a countdown timer during battery life tests.

For everyday phone calls, I relied on the slim and attractive HTC ONE A9 in burgundy. It had an official smart sleep case that displayed the time and weather through openings, adding a touch of novelty. This particular phone was an imported version with an OLED screen, delivering excellent display quality and color accuracy.

I tend to keep the phones I’ve used and occasionally take them out to play with when I’m in the mood. For example, I still have fond memories of the Nokia Lumia 800/1020 and the Sony Z1C/Z5.

As for the concept of “trade-ins,” I never really considered it. Even when I had a run-in with a thief while traveling in London, and my phone was smashed on the ground (since he couldn’t take it), I returned to Beijing with a shattered screen on my trusty iPhone 7 Plus and got it repaired. The store clerk suggested that I trade it in because it wouldn’t fetch much money due to the damage. But this phone had been through thick and thin with me, so how could I part with it? I decided to keep using it.

Currently, my primary device for browsing Zhihu is the iPhone 7 Plus with a liquid crystal display, which I find more comfortable than OLED screens.

I purchased an iPhone 12 Pro Max for a specific purpose: video recording.

As you can probably tell by now, my phones are primarily used for one thing – either listening to music, browsing Zhihu, or shooting videos.

I don’t typically consolidate multiple important functions onto one phone. When I go out, I usually carry three phones with me. For example, for a video project that requires multiple camera angles, one iPhone records the wide-angle shots, another iPhone remotely controls the camera’s position, and an Android phone handles shot composition and communication.

I’m not willing to part with distinctive phones or ones I have an emotional attachment to. Given my daily work requires at least three phones and several cameras, I’m not really interested in trade-ins. There’s always a place for devices that can still shine.

Regarding Apple’s “Annual Upgrade” program and Apple Care service, it’s worth considering if you’re someone who eagerly awaits new releases, especially for tech reviewers who need the latest iPhone each year.

In the past, when I needed specific data on the durability of new aluminum materials used in iPhone 6s Plus (it had to be bent to the point of being rendered unusable), I simply took advantage of Apple Care. The Genius Bar engineer asked how it happened, and I told him it was crushed by a container truck. There was no value in repairing it, so they just replaced it.

For regular consumers, the official trade-in prices typically fall below what you’d get from selling it on your own or through third-party channels. This is especially true for phones in excellent condition that have always been used with protective cases.

Whether it’s the official trade-in program, third-party services, or selling it yourself, the best trade-in value usually occurs within the first year.

However, with smartphones becoming increasingly homogeneous and relying heavily on camera improvements for value, the need to upgrade every year has diminished. iPhones, in particular, are known for their durability, often lasting five years without performance issues.

The latest iPhone 15 Pro Max, for example, didn’t bring significant breakthroughs in areas like adding a 120mm telephoto lens; instead, it replaced the 77mm medium focal length. Other potential upgrades like under-display fingerprint scanners, the return of 3D Touch, true full-screen displays, improved water resistance, or 100W fast charging didn’t materialize. So, the question is, what’s the point of upgrading?

Apple could easily boost sales by implementing any of these features. However, Apple tends to take gradual steps forward. But what about Android?

It seems that Android has run out of surprises by now.

Flagship phones now come with standard 1/1.3 to 1-inch sensors, periscope telephoto lenses, variable apertures, and maximum apertures as wide as F1.4. What else is left to innovate? Fast charging, flexible screens, or signal quality? Even today’s flagship phones, including iPhones, have embraced the trend of larger batteries, multiple cameras, and a brick-like form factor. Gone are the days of slim and lightweight iPhones like the 6/6 Plus. Do we really need such thick and heavy phones for daily activities like checking WeChat messages? Do we need phones with such heavy camera modules? Do we need phones with glass backs?

All sorts of artificial needs are piled on us—people want the best or the most expensive. Chinese brands have successfully raised prices, with some domestic Xiaomi flagships now costing several thousand yuan. However, advertisements are still very much present.

The advantage is that, as phone prices continue to rise, there’s more money left over after the initial purchase, increasing the likelihood of trade-ins.

But wanting to replace a phone within a year is either because the current phone isn’t great or the new phone offers a significant breakthrough.

When the iPhone 15 was just announced, rumors about the iPhone 16, possibly an even higher-tier model called the iPhone 16 Ultra, were already circulating. Reports suggest that the iPhone 17 Pro will feature under-display Face ID, eliminating the notch.

If you buy the iPhone 16 Ultra in September 2024, it’s quite likely that you’ll trade it in for the iPhone 16 in September 2025 because the iPhone 17 will feature a true full-screen display.

That’s it.

“Trade-In Considerations for Smartphones”

When it comes to trading in smartphones, the decision largely depends on the type of phone. Low-budget phones in the range of a thousand or a hundred yuan are not worth trading in. The trade-in value for these phones is minimal, and it’s often better to keep them as backup devices.

Trade-ins are typically associated with flagship or high-end smartphones. Low-budget phones don’t have much value to begin with, and trading them in doesn’t make much sense. Even if manufacturers take them back, they won’t fetch much money. Smartphones, in general, are fast-moving consumer goods and don’t retain their value, especially Android devices, which often see price drops.

Recently, there was news about the release of the Redmi Note 13, which seemed to surpass my current Redmi Note 11T Pro in terms of specifications. It had added image stabilization to the camera, achieved 120W fast charging, and featured a 500mAh larger battery.

Specifications of Redmi Note 11T Pro:

  • Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 8100
  • Display: 144Hz high-end LCD screen
  • Battery: 5080mAh with 67W wired fast charging
  • Rear Camera: 64MP ultra-clear main camera

Specifications of Redmi Note 13 Pro+:

  • Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 7200-Ultra
  • Battery: 5000mAh with 120W wired fast charging
  • Rear Camera: 200MP Samsung HP3 main camera with OIS
  • Display: 1.5K OLED screen

I happened to visit a Xiaomi store the other day and had the chance to experience the Redmi Note 13. It felt impressive, particularly in terms of ergonomics, surpassing the Note 11T Pro by a significant margin. The display quality seemed improved, appearing more refined, which may be due to enhanced specifications. Both were running MIUI 14, but the Redmi Note 13 exhibited smoother screen transitions compared to the Note 11. There seemed to be some frame drops when swiping through the home screen and opening apps on the Note 11T Pro, which is attributed to MIUI 14’s suboptimal performance. I plan to flash it back to the factory version. While there were some differences in camera performance, it doesn’t particularly matter to me.

Originally, I intended to use the Redmi Note 11T Pro until 2025 before considering an upgrade. However, after experiencing the new model, I suddenly found the older one less appealing. So, I inquired about the trade-in value for my Note 11T Pro, and the store employee mentioned it could fetch a maximum of 300 yuan. He explained that my version, the 8+128GB variant, didn’t have a high resale value. If it were a 256GB model, it might get a better trade-in value. Selling a 128GB version now wouldn’t be easy.

I bought the Redmi Note 11T Pro around this time last year for about 1500 yuan. Considering it would only fetch 300 yuan after just one year, I felt it wasn’t worth trading in. I’ve since reverted to the factory version of MIUI 14, which runs considerably smoother. I’ve also rooted the device and modified the version number, so I won’t receive future updates. I plan to stick with this version for the time being.

I’ll wait until 2025 before considering a new smartphone. At that time, I’ll probably opt for a budget phone. I don’t particularly like spending too much on phones; a budget phone serves my needs as I don’t take photos or play mobile games.

“Considering Smartphone Trade-Ins”

It depends on the situation. The platforms for recycling and reselling electronics have become quite mature. Additionally, electronic products get updated and replaced so rapidly that a smartphone bought at a high price a few years ago might now be worth no more than a stainless steel basin. Instead of letting it gather dust in a drawer, selling it to recoup some money seems reasonable.

Some people are unfamiliar with the process of recycling or reselling, which typically involves two factors:

  1. Trade-in Price
  2. Trade-in Process/Safety

Firstly, regarding the price, different platforms may provide slightly different estimates for the same device. Generally, larger platforms offer lower prices, while smaller ones offer relatively higher prices.

I recently checked the trade-in prices for my personal smartphone:

You can see that the prices for selling the phone as used are generally higher than the trade-in prices (whether you can actually sell it is another matter). Among the platforms that support trade-ins, the prices vary significantly, but after applying additional coupons, the actual trade-in prices are roughly the same.

Taking Jingdong (i.e., Ai Hui Shou) as an example:

Now, let’s talk about the process. I won’t delve into selling or consigning, as the pricing uncertainty is too high. Instead, I’ll focus on the recycling process.

When the price is right, it’s best to choose on-site verification. After the device is inspected and the price is confirmed without discrepancies, you can receive the payment on the spot (including any coupon discounts). In comparison to mailing for inspection, face-to-face verification is a more controlled process, offering higher reliability.

Moreover, prices on each platform can fluctuate at any time. Even on the same platform, prices for the same device in different paths can vary widely. For example, with Hui Shou Bao, for the same phone and in the same condition, the price differs when accessed via Alipay (left) and the mobile app (right).

In summary:

Due to the involvement of testing, appraisal, and secondary sales, I recommend prioritizing large platforms for higher safety and service satisfaction.

Regarding concerns about data leaks, consider the following points:

  1. Data recovery involves costs, and there aren’t many malicious individuals. Most phones don’t hold data valuable enough to warrant recovery.
  2. It’s been confirmed that a factory reset no longer completely erases data. To mitigate this, after a factory reset, you can fill the phone’s memory with other data and then perform another factory reset. Repeating this cycle 5-8 times or more significantly reduces the chances of data recovery.
  3. If you’re still concerned, or if your phone contains extremely sensitive data, it’s advisable to forego recycling.

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  • {vivo} | {Xiaomi/Redmi (Redmi)} | {iQOO}
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“Personal Choices Regarding Smartphone Trade-Ins”

As a tech enthusiast, I often part ways with various second-hand electronic products. However, I don’t usually opt for trading in or selling my old smartphones, as it often doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. Instead, I typically wipe the data and give them to family members or relatives, especially the elderly or children.

Official Trade-In Prices Are Lower, Better to Sell Second-Hand

Let’s take the example of Apple’s official Trade-in program. If you trade in your current iPhone 14 Pro 256GB for the new iPhone 15 Pro 256GB, you’ll get a deduction of 5100 CNY.

Sounds okay, right? But in practice, this trade-off might not be the best choice.

On one hand, you can sell your old iPhone for a higher price on platforms like a certain popular e-commerce site, fetching around 5600 CNY, which is a direct gain of 500 CNY.

On the other hand, the more important point is that iPhones are officially priced at 8999 CNY in Apple Stores. Unless you want to be the first to get the latest model, why would cost-conscious buyers like us go for the full-priced product?

Even without considering promotions like Singles' Day,’s self-operated channels have already lowered the price to as low as 8149 CNY, and third-party stores like DY Mall or PDD offer it for as low as 7700 CNY…

In the end, there’s a price difference of 1500 CNY or more, enough to buy a pair of AirPods or put some money towards an Apple Watch.

So, why opt for such a loss-making trade-in?

P.S. “Yearly Renewal” for half-price upgrades also requires purchasing Apple Care, which increases the cost.

Third-Party Trade-In Processes Are Unclear, Product and Data Security Uncertain

There are numerous third-party trade-in platforms now, each claiming to provide a safe and worry-free service. However, a quick search on various platforms reveals numerous issues and disputes.

With such a wide range of options and varying levels of professionalism and attitude among employees, coupled with their profit-oriented KPIs, can you really expect a foolproof experience? As intermediaries, they naturally cater more towards the paying customers, leaving many people feeling unlucky at times.

Lastly, “Precaution is Better Than Cure” - Ensure Personal Data Security When Dealing with Second-Hand Devices

For most of us, our smartphones contain a wealth of personal data, ranging from photos and videos to various in-app communications, some of which involve financial matters. Therefore, personal data security is a paramount concern when handling second-hand electronic devices.

Before parting with your device, make sure to triple-check whether all your personal information has been erased and the device has been reset to prevent any potential data leakage to the trade-in or repair service.

“My Experience with Smartphone Trade-In – Disappointment Ensued”

I recently tried the “trade-in” service to purchase a new smartphone, but I ended up feeling quite disappointed.

Before buying a new phone, I looked into the trade-in offers available. I took seven or eight old smartphones to a local mobile store, thinking I could at least get a couple hundred yuan in credit towards my new purchase. However, to my surprise, I struggled to get even thirty or fifty yuan in return.

Phones that wouldn’t even power on, such as Coolpad, Nubia, Sony, Samsung, Huawei Mate 8, and others, were appraised at just three or five yuan. The most I received for a completely non-functional phone was around seven yuan, and for a working Huawei Mate 9, the estimate was a maximum of thirteen yuan. When you add it all up, it hardly amounted to much, and I was left feeling disappointed.

This kind of low-value trade-in doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. For the retailers, it’s probably just another form of electronic waste recycling, more of a marketing strategy than anything else!

I was looking to purchase a Huawei Mate 60 Pro 1TB version for 7999 yuan, and the trade-in value for those seven or eight old phones was a mere thirty or fifty yuan. It barely made a dent in the cost of the new phone, like a drop in the ocean.

In the end, I decided not to go for the trade-in option. I’ll just pay for the new phone, keep those old ones as a memento in my drawer, a witness to the passing years!

If you’re thinking of parting ways with your old phone, instead of tossing it in the trash, consider using a trade-in service when buying a new phone. Let the retailer handle the disposal of the old phone, ensuring it receives professional recycling treatment, which is more environmentally friendly and contributes to reusing materials. Why not go for it?

As for me, I have a bit of nostalgia for these old phones. Despite the minimal return, I’ve decided to keep them. Perhaps they hold memories of bygone days! @ZhihuTech

“My Experience as a Seasoned Trade-In User”

It’s quite a coincidence, but I’m a seasoned user when it comes to trading in old gadgets.

Trade-in platforms include, but are not limited to, iRecycle, brand-operated trade-ins, Xianyu (a local marketplace app), and various others for pots, pans, and dishes.

My first experience with trade-ins was when the Xiaomi 5S was launched. I noticed that offered a trade-in service. At that time, my primary phone was an iPhone 5S.’s service was such that they’d send you the new phone first, then you’d transfer your data, and finally, you’d send the old phone back. The trade-in value was determined after assessment, and if you weren’t satisfied with the price, they’d return it.

The experience was okay. Compared to selling on Xianyu, the trade-in price was around 15% lower, but it was faster, with less haggling. Back then, Xianyu didn’t even have a service for verifying the condition of the phone.

In 2018, I traded my Xiaomi 5S for a MIX2S.

After a while, I needed a backup phone. When the Redmi Note 11 was released, it didn’t have great value for money, but had some unexplainable discounts. So, I got myself a Redmi Note 11 Pro+ with an extra trade-in service (which disappeared in less than a year).

Can you guess how much I spent?

The following year, I checked Xianyu for the market value of the Redmi Note 11 Pro+. I could sell it for 700 yuan, so I decided to sell it for 600 yuan on and get a Note 12 Pro+. They also gave me an additional trade-in voucher. I paid around 1100 yuan and I’m still using it.

In between, I spent 2400 yuan on a Redmi K20 Pro, the first-generation flagship. I accidentally broke the screen and it leaked. I spent 600 yuan to replace the screen and battery, and it was good as new. I used it for another year and sold it for over 700 yuan at a Xiaomi store, which I used to buy the K50G.

This year, the K50G’s zoom lens glass broke. iRecycle assessed it at 700 yuan, but at the Xiaomi store, they gave me 1400 yuan. That far exceeded my expectations, so I added some money and got a Xiaomi 13!!!

In between, there were a few experiences with Xianyu. For example, when I sold an iPad, the buyer was adamant and refused to confirm receipt. Similarly, with a MacBook Air, I didn’t record a video before sending it, and the buyer claimed the camera was faulty.

Now, I must use Xianyu’s verification service. It’s a must!

Here’s an interesting one: In 2021, I bought a Xiaomi Pad 5 Pro, and on Christmas a few days ago, my partner accidentally sat on it. When I tried to use it at work, I couldn’t fit the keyboard into the slot.

iRecycle assessed it at 600 yuan, but at the Xiaomi store, they gave me 750 yuan. Now, iRecycle has become my mental bottom line when dealing with electronic product trade-ins.

By the way, I also sold a Xiaomi stylus pen on Xianyu, and I recorded a video before sending it. I wonder if another miracle “at the last minute” will happen.

Now that I’ve sold the tablet and my work computer can’t access the internet, I’m planning to buy a laptop with a budget of slightly over 3,000 yuan. It’s time to put Xianyu to the test!

There’s only a slight paint chip at the bottom. Do you think it’s worth considering? It’s the OLED touch model, not the RedmiBook.

My Experience with Trade-In Services: A Dramatic Tale

I tried a trade-in service back in August 2020, and the experience was nothing short of dramatic. Five stars, but I won’t be back.

At the time, I had been using a Xiaomi Mi 6 for over three years, the 6+128GB high-end version. I wanted to replace it with the K30 Supreme Commemorative Edition, 8+512GB. The store I chose was, and the product page had a trade-in promotion as shown below:

!{Trade-in Promotion}

I was aware that trade-in programs can be tricky, but this time, there was a subsidy for trading in. As long as iRecycle was willing to offer 500 yuan for my Mi 6, it meant selling my old phone for 500+150=650 yuan, even though the 150 yuan was in E-cards (which is essentially a bank transfer, but more on that later).

Back then, the Mi 6 high-end version was selling on Xianyu (a local marketplace app) for around 650-700 yuan. With the subsidy, the trade-in almost matched the Xianyu price. Plus, I got to keep the charger, data cable, packaging, and saved on shipping costs. Not a bad deal, right?

So, with a 100 yuan deposit on the night of the product launch, I decided to participate in this promotion.

After receiving the new phone, transferring data, and resetting the old one, I took my old phone to the nearest iRecycle service point.

Here’s a picture I took just before leaving (only the phone was given to iRecycle), and it looked almost brand new XD.

However, as expected, the service representative first fiddled with the iRecycle terminal and quickly came up with reasons like screen burn and chipped paint to devalue the phone.

I was prepared and had a showdown right there. The purchase price increased from 420 to 480, but the representative wouldn’t budge any further. That’s when I played my trump card: “I need to get at least 500 for this trade-in as part of the subsidy, or I’ll return the new phone.”

Finally, the representative gave in, but in the iRecycle terminal, the highest quoted price for my phone at its current condition was only 480 yuan (I must say, iRecycle is skilled at precise pricing). After some more effort, the representative managed to reach the 500 yuan trade-in value by changing my phone’s details in the system to “Mi 6+64GB with minimal usage traces.”

Now, if it had stopped here, it would have been an ordinary haggling diary and wouldn’t make it into this response.

The magical part came next: I received 500 yuan for the trade-in, and I had to apply for the 150 yuan subsidy separately online.

This subsidy process took nearly a week, and the reason was simple: iRecycle claimed I missed the deadline; the promotion had ended, and they refused to provide the subsidy.

On the phone, the customer service representative stated that the promotion period was from August 14 to August 18, and I submitted my trade-in request on August 22, which they said was too late.

I was caught off guard by this sudden appearance of a hidden boss. I countered on the spot, “Didn’t you say ‘within 7 days’?”

The customer service representative began to argue, saying it was “within 7 days of the promotion,” meaning that the promotion started on August 14, and the trade-in had to be completed within 7 days, i.e., August 14-21. Therefore, my submission on August 22 was one day late.

This argument didn’t work on me because I had already saved a screenshot of the promotion page, which clearly stated “within 7 days after the end of the promotion.” What does “the end of the promotion” mean? It’s clearly the moment when August 19, 00:00 arrives. Thus, the correct date range should be August 19-25, and my trade-in request met the requirement.

As soon as the customer service representative heard that I had a saved screenshot, their attitude changed. They agreed that the subsidy was valid and acknowledged that it was due to their phrasing issue. They explained that since the system’s set promotion time had elapsed, they couldn’t provide the subsidy as E-cards, so they decided to transfer the subsidy to me in cash.

In the end, I received the 150 yuan subsidy, which was even better than the expected 150 yuan in E-cards. I was certainly satisfied, and I give it five stars.

However, the entire process was so convoluted and time-consuming, and in the end, I got close to the trade-in price on Xianyu. What was the point?

Since then, I’ve lost interest in trade-in promotions. You never know what new plot twists await you next time.

Trade-In Services: Evaluating the Worth

In the past, I used to consider trade-in services as a way to save a bit of money – after all, who doesn’t like a good deal? It felt like finding a treasure when I could trade in my old phone for a newer one. However, these days, I’m less inclined to use trade-in services because I believe the value they offer for old phones is too low. I think keeping the old phone might be more valuable – it can serve as a backup device, be handed down to family members, used for logging into other media accounts, or even serve as a secondary camera for product reviews. In emergencies, it can also stand in for my primary device.

For example, when I upgraded from the iPhone 6s to the iPhone 11, I used a trade-in service. At that time, the 256GB version of the iPhone 11 cost around six to seven thousand yuan. It was quite a hit to the wallet. However, the store staff informed me that with a trade-in, I could get a discount of 400-500 yuan. Suddenly, the new phone felt several hundred yuan cheaper. I happily transferred my data on the spot and traded in the old phone at the Apple Store.

But this year, when I considered upgrading my iPhone 11 to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, I decided against it. The new phone was close to 12,000 yuan, and the trade-in would only save me around 1,000 yuan at most. It didn’t feel like a significant reduction in price. Considering that my iPhone 11 was still in good shape, with only noticeable battery health deterioration, it could easily serve me for some more time. I found other uses for it, so I decided to keep it as a backup device.

So, whether you should use a trade-in service depends on its specific value proposition. In general, Apple iPhones tend to hold their value relatively well. Models from one or two years ago can still fetch a decent price, making trade-ins more worthwhile. It’s great for people who like to upgrade their phones every year, as they can experience the latest models with a relatively small price difference.

From left to right: iPhone 6s, 11, 12, 15 Pro Max

For Android phones, I wouldn’t recommend trade-in services as enthusiastically. They generally have lower resale values, and even a few hundred yuan would be considered a good deal. Often, it’s just tens or hundreds of yuan. This is because the Android smartphone market evolves rapidly, with new models frequently released. However, these newer versions often have minimal performance improvements or sometimes none at all – they might only change the model name or adjust the configuration slightly.

Moreover, Android phones are generally cheaper than iPhones, so the absolute depreciation value is even lower. In my opinion, except for phones with some sentimental or collectible value and limited edition models, the trade-in value for most Android phones is not significant. In some cases, I even feel that the trade-in price for certain models is lower than what you could get by selling them on second-hand platforms. This is especially true for budget Android phones, where the depreciation value is negligible.

So, I believe that older Android phones don’t have much trade-in value; they are better off used as backup devices. Sometimes, they can come in handy for kids or elderly family members, and I’ve attached a picture of some of the retired Android phones in my house. They now serve as development and compatibility testing devices and are handy for various tasks, including product reviews.

These are my thoughts on the matter. Do you have any different perspectives? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. If you found my response helpful, please consider liking and upvoting. Sharing knowledge benefits everyone. I’m @TechResearcher on Zhihu.

To Trade-In or Not to Trade-In: Evaluating the Worth

Of course, not using it.

If I need the money, why would I bother swapping my old phone?

If I don’t need the money, why would I bother selling an old phone?

But I still recommend friends who need it or are environmentally conscious to participate in handling old phones. After all, different needs require different solutions for dealing with old phones.

However, it’s still worth checking if trading-in is a good deal

Let’s take iPhone users as an example, starting with Apple’s official program

iPhone’s trade-in program is called “Apple Trade-In.”

With the Apple Trade-In program, you can easily trade in your current device online or at an Apple Retail Store. You can choose to have the trade-in value transferred directly to your bank account (online trade-in only) or take advantage of discounted pricing on new products. If your device doesn’t qualify for credit, we’ll recycle it for free. It’s good for you and the planet.

The image above shows the indicative trade-in prices for iPhones on the official website. Meanwhile, for Huawei users, the prices on offer are far from generous:

Now, let’s look at vivo’s official trade-in policy

For the Mate 40 Pro, the maximum trade-in value is 2932 yuan.

For the iPhone 14 Pro Max, it offers up to 6936 yuan.

A certain recycling website

The Mate 40 Pro’s highest trade-in value is 3281 yuan.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max offers 8238 yuan.

Clearly, different platforms and models offer varying trade-in prices. But overall, it seems more suitable to sell your phone to a third-party recycling organization for cash and then purchase a new phone from various channels.

However, when selling your phone to a third-party recycling organization, you should also be cautious

First, there’s the issue of privacy

I am a digital creator, but if you were to ask me how to completely erase phone data to ensure it cannot be recovered by anyone, I still wouldn’t have a perfect answer.

Moreover, smartphones, being the most frequently used digital devices, invariably contain a user’s personal data like photos, contacts, app usage history, and more. If this information is ever leaked, the consequences could be severe.

Some so-called data cleaning tutorials sometimes aren’t reliable either. So, sometimes, I joke that the only way to ensure personal information is completely untraceable is to dismantle the phone and replace its storage memory.

Then, there’s the recycling process

If it’s an in-person verification, concerns may be reduced. However, remote verification is full of uncertainties.

The logic is simple: once your phone leaves your hands via courier, the initiative essentially shifts to the other party.

Clearly, when the other party wants to negotiate the price, they become more confident. Moreover, some unscrupulous individuals may dismantle your phone and replace components. Some retailers may even deliberately damage certain components if price negotiation fails. Examples of unfortunate transactions are commonplace on second-hand platforms.

It’s not exactly reassuring!

Finally, let’s talk about pricing

Selling a used phone can easily lead to disputes over price, and some online transactions increase this risk.

This includes not only the unscrupulous recycling parties mentioned earlier but also some brand or e-commerce official trade-in programs, which can easily lead to disputes over trade-in prices between both parties.

I personally believe that there is no perfect solution. The only thing you can do is prepare yourself psychologically when planning to sell your phone and set a reasonable expected selling price based on the market conditions.

Or sell it to a friend who doesn’t mind paying a bit more! (For example, sometimes during holidays or business visits, some companies offer to buy back their clients' old phones at a higher price or offer model exchanges.)


As you can see, there are still many issues to be resolved when selling an old phone or trading it in.

However, looking at it from a different perspective, this industry is still a blue ocean to be tapped into. If a company can come up with a win-win solution, it will undoubtedly become a leader in this industry.

But in the end, the key question is how much your old phone is worth!

It’s all about the money!

Trade-In Options: Self-Selling vs. Service Providers

In essence, there are two forms of trade-in.

The first is independent trade-in, where users sell their old devices on platforms like Xianyu or Zhuanzhuan.

The second is trade-in services provided by service providers, including major manufacturers' own trade-in programs, digital media’s second-hand recycling (e.g., Xiaomi, Aifou), and companies like Aihuishou.

First, should you sell your old phone when getting a new one?

This varies from person to person. When you’re financially comfortable, your old phone can serve as a backup, offering more residual value. In this case, trade-in doesn’t concern you.

When you decide to sell your old phone to reduce the cost of a new one, your choice of method will directly impact your ultimate profit.

The first option, selling it yourself, yields the highest economic benefit. Generally, the prices offered by service providers for old device trade-in are about 20% lower than the prices in second-hand marketplaces like Xianyu. This is a significant difference. However, since these second-hand marketplaces can be chaotic, lacking experience can lead to risks, such as being swindled, which might even increase the overall risk.

The second option, using trade-in or replacement services provided by service providers, offers the advantage of convenience and fast payment. In most cases, you receive payment immediately upon trade-in. If you choose an official retail store’s trade-in service, you might even enjoy a seamless experience with door-to-door delivery and old device pickup. This is more user-friendly for the average person but may offer lower prices than selling it yourself. However, these services provided by service providers are not without risks, and it’s best to opt for reputable manufacturers or self-media recycling services. Choosing an unscrupulous provider could result in your device being taken without compensation.

Seamless Transition

Taking my well-maintained Xiaomi 10 Ultra as an example.

A “well-maintained” old phone

The official evaluation price is 999 yuan, while you can get around 1500 yuan on Xianyu, a nearly 50% difference.

Notice the price gap in the evaluation prices

If I were to trade in for a new phone, I would definitely choose to sell it myself because of my extensive experience with Xianyu transactions, which allows me to avoid unnecessary risks.

Looking back at my history of changing phones, I’ve sold my old devices mainly on Xianyu, including headphones, tablets, phones, and stylus pens.

Xianyu sales records

Therefore, I don’t reject the idea of trade-in. Selling old devices to recoup some money is a great experience. However, I don’t use official trade-in services much; I prefer to handle things independently to maximize benefits.

However, my situation doesn’t apply to everyone. After so many years of development, Xianyu is no longer the same platform it used to be. Scammers abound, and unscrupulous merchants are everywhere. If you don’t have friends who can help you or lack experience, I would recommend using the trade-in services provided by service providers for a more secure and hassle-free experience.