By Kelli B. Grant
If you’re in the market for an iPhone, hold off on buying — and get ready to sell your old handset.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has placed orders for key components in the next-generation phone, expected to launch sometime during the third quarter. It’s not especially surprising. Analysts have been predicting a fall release for months, and Apple usually unveils its new devices two or three months after it announces a new operating system — which happened in June this year, points out Ross Rubin, the director of industry analysis for market research firm NPD Group. (Apple did not respond to requests for comment.)
Rumors about the device suggest it will be thinner and lighter than the current version, with a better camera. More importantly, the iPhone 5 is expected to be network agnostic — you’d buy the same model whether you’re a customer of Verizon or AT&T, says Anthony Scarsella, the chief gadget officer for Gazelle.com. That isn’t currently the case.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to switch providers without buying a new handset, but it does mean users will be able to use their phones more widely abroad. This is a bigger deal for Verizon subscribers, because that network is currently more limited overseas. It could also boost their phone resale value, Scarsella says. Because of the international limitations, Verizon iPhones are currently worth roughly 15% less on the resale market than AT&T models, which have more demand from buyers in other countries.
From a features perspective, it’s not yet clear whether the iPhone 5 will be worth a mid-contract upgrade, Rubin says. Apple typically makes most new operating system features available on older models, but it’s still unknown how much faster the iPhone 5’s processor might be, or what other advantages it could have over the current model.
Still, resale prices will only go down once Apple officially announces the iPhone 5. Get ready to strike that day. Resale sites typically make an offer that stands for 30 days, with no penalty for failing to send in the item — the offer simply expires. That window should be long enough to have your new phone in hand before sending in the old.