Apple’s latest iPhones may be expensive, but they’ve also been proven to hold their value much better than their premium Android competitors. Even so, however, there comes a time in every iPhone’s life when it takes a much more precipitous drop in value, and that’s right after a new iPhone model gets released.
You might think that your iPhone loses more value over time, and would still have a lower trade-in value as Apple’s annual September refresh draws closer, but according to an analysis by Decluttr, that’s surprisingly not the case.
Instead, most iPhones actually start with a sharp drop in value in the first month after release, then have a fairly slow but linear drop in trade-in values from there right up to the days before a new Apple unveil.
At that point, the values fall off a cliff — dropping by as much as 30% — right after Apple announces a newer iPhone.
Part of this is of course some uncertainty as to what the new iPhones will include — despite the many, many rumours leading up to an Apple event, nothing is carved in stone until the new iPhone actually takes the stage.
The other more obvious factor, however, is the fact that Apple almost always releases its newest iPhones at the exact same prices as the prior models, frequently continuing to sell at least some prior models at reduced prices. It’s hard to maintain higher trade-in values for used iPhones when the price of the same brand new model has also dropped significantly.
Which iPhone Holds Its Value Best?
Naturally, the oldest iPhone models have depreciated the most, with the iPhone 7 losing 81% of its value since its was first released three years ago. Decluttr offers a breakdown of how much value each of the recent iPhone models have lost since their initial release.
- 2016 iPhone 7: 81%
- 2017 iPhone 8: 65%
- 2017 iPhone 8 Plus: 61%
- 2017 iPhone X: 59%
- 2018 iPhone XS: 49%
- 2018 iPhone XR: 43%
Interestingly, although the more expensive iPhone X retained a slightly higher trade-in value (relative to the original purchase price) than the older-style iPhone 8 devices, the reverse seems to have been true with last year’s iPhone XS and iPhone XR, with the more inexpensive model faring much better than its premium counterparts.
This is likely due largely to the popularity of the iPhone XR, although it’s an especially interesting development considering how many carriers are beginning to offer deeply discounted “on-contract” plans for that model in advance of next week’s event.
What This Means
While this report focuses on trade-in values specifically, it’s safe to assume that second-hand resale prices are going to see a similar drop after next week’s iPhone 11 announcement.
So the most obvious takeaway here is that if you plan to upgrade to the iPhone 11 and want to get top dollar for your old iPhone, the time to sell is now. If you’re looking to sell on the more traditional used market, rather than trading in your iPhone, selling early will also help you to get ahead of the deluge of old iPhone models that are almost guaranteed to be flooding eBay and Craigslist next week, improving your chances of getting a better price.
Of course, this may mean that you have to live without an iPhone for a week or two, but the extra couple hundred bucks that you can make by striking while the iron is still hot may be well worth it.