By Kelli B. Grant
It’s looking more like consumers will have an extended wait for a fifth-generation iPhone, with the latest rumors (from an AT&T insider) pushing the unveiling to September instead of the usual June.
That’s good news for Verizon iPhone owners who plan to trade up to a newer model. They’ll have more time to save up to make up for the handsets’ lower resale rate.
Four months out from the Verizon release, the carrier’s iPhones are fetching substantially less than AT&T handsets on the secondary market, says Anthony Scarsella, the chief gadget officer for resale site Gazelle.com. The GSM technology in AT&T’s phones is used in more countries than Verizon’s CDMA and allows simultaneous voice and data use, both of which create more demand. “Once it can be unlocked, it can be used on any carrier,” Scarsella says. “The secondary market is huge.”
Gazelle is currently paying up to $328 for a mint-condition 16GB iPhone 4 from Verizon with accessories – 16% less than the $390 for one in the same condition from AT&T. 32GB iPhone 4 prices are $331 and $394, respectively. Radio Shack is offering up to $262.50 for a Verizon 16GB phone, versus $282.54 for AT&T. On 32GB models, it pays $280.14 and $320.14.
AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel says he’s not surprised that the carrier’s phones hold their value better. “There’s no question that the technology AT&T uses for its phones… has significant advantages over CDMA,” he says. Verizon declined to comment. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
To be sure, in all cases, the resale values are more than the subsidized prices of $199 and $299 a new subscriber or someone renewing their contract would have paid. But when you’re talking mid-contract upgrades, which would be the case for any Verizon iPhone owners and many AT&T ones, the gap translates to up to $63 extra paid on the phones’ full retail price of $650 and $750.
Future generations of iPhones may not have a similar value discrepancy. Rumors about the new handset include a dual GSM/CDMA chip, which could enable owners to take it with them no matter which carrier they switch to, and keep its resale value elevated. Of course, that detail, along with the phone’s release date, is still up in the air. Verizon and AT&T both declined to comment on iPhone 5 availability.