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Cody Godwin, USA TODAY
Some smartphones appear to be immune to the wave of inflation sweeping through the economy, with Apple now slashing the trade-in deals it offers to people buying a new device.
Last week, as MacRumors noted, Apple’s published trade-in estimates dropped from $70 to $5, depending on the age and specs of the iPhone in question.
The iPhone 11 got the biggest relative haircut, a 23% drop in trade-in value from $300 to $230.
This shouldn’t have been a shocking plotline, given Apple’s history of falling exchange values.
“All of these devices are older than they were a year ago, so it makes sense from that perspective,” Jeffrey Moore, director of Wave7 Research, emailed USA TODAY.
But it should be a reminder that smartphones don’t age evenly, even taking into account Apple’s history of supporting older iPhone models with new system software updates for years afterwards. stop selling them.
For example, the current iOS 15 works on phones since iPhone 6s vintage 2015.
So, is your old iPhone worth anything?
The upcoming iOS 16, according to Apple’s preview page, will require a 2017-era iPhone 8 or newer.
Potential buyers of older phones, as well as people looking to trade them in, should be aware of this likely erosion in value.
“I generally don’t advise people to buy phones that are more than two or three generations old,” said analyst Mark Vena, founder of SmartTech Research. Devices older than this may be blocked by software in a few years.
“It could work perfectly as a cellphone, but it may not be upgradeable to the latest operating system,” Vena said.
An executive at a company that refurbishes and resells gadgets said customer demand is pretty close to Apple’s support lifecycles.
Lauren Benton, US managing director of Back Market, said in an email that iPhone 7 sales fell this year the same way iPhone 6 sales fell last year.
How can you make your old iPhone faster?
Just a tip for rejuvenating the phone: Noting that batteries usually wear out first on smartphones, Benton said replacing a battery on an iPhone can also provide performance benefits.
“iPhones specifically manage their power consumption and performance based on battery health, so if a phone is running slowly, replacing the battery will sometimes speed it up,” Benton said.
The update situation is worse with Android phones, which rarely receive system updates after two years. As Moore wrote, “used iPhones hold their value better than Android phones.”
Is your network holding back your smartphone?
The evolution of wireless networks provides another chapter break in aging smartphones.
Only the iPhone 12, introduced in 2020, and newer models support both 5G and its faster “mid-band” versions available from AT&T and Verizon. These two use a set of frequencies called “C-band”, just like T-Mobile.
Devices ineligible for this faster connectivity may feel relatively slow now, but they will definitely feel slower two years from now. That doesn’t make them eligible to be recycled into their metal components, but it does require a sense of realism about who might be using an older phone and for what purposes.
Vena’s advice is to pass the phone you have now when you’re ready to trade.
“A phone that’s two or three years old would make a great gift for a child or parent,” Vena said.
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