20/08/2020

You Snooze, You Lose: Time To Get The Most Money For Your iPhone

In the most comprehensive price tracking study that we have ever created, updated again for 2021, we have looked at every iPhone recycling price since the iPhone 6 to understand what previous iPhone generations are worth now and how the hotly anticipated iPhone 13 range may affect the value of older iPhones when you come to sell your iPhone.

  • Our data illustrates that the value of iPhones depreciates over time with the highest depreciation rate from the original retail price occurring within the iPhone’s first year on the market. The data that we have analysed discloses more about what happens to iPhone resale prices when a new generation of iPhone gets released.
  • An iPhone will lose upwards of 25% of its retail value the second you unbox it at launch date and up to 50% in the first year of ownership!
  • The largest drops for older models occur as new iPhones are released or just prior to release/after the announcement. Trade-in prices drop slightly after the official announcement from Apple, then enter a period of fluctuation and drop by an average of 20% after the release.
  • There is a dip in trade-in prices around June and mid July, and then an increase in August for most iPhone models. However, 2021 is a unique year that did not follow any established trends and as such we have seen trade-in prices going down around March and April, and then remaining steady throughout the summer so far.
  • August would traditionally be the best time to sell your iPhone, and if the prices are higher than those noted in this article in August, then it’s a great time to sell your phone.
  • During the second year post-release, devices reach a plateau and depreciate much slower than during the years before and after.

Deep Dive into the iPhone Price Tracking Data: iPhone 8 to the iPhone 12

The iPhone 11 was the first flagship device from Apple that was released with a lower retail price than its predecessor, which has had a clear effect on the prices of previous models. The XS range had the sharpest drops after the iPhone 11 release, this was repeated in 2020 with the iPhone 12 release and its effect on previous releases.

The latest iPhone generation is set to lose the most around the launch date of the 2021 iPhones, and most older iPhones will experience their biggest value loss of the year around the same time.

Price History of iPhone 8 to iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max: Largest Single Device Lineup for Some Time

With four devices to choose from and multiple capacities in between, the iPhone 12 range had a little something for everyone and there are a lot of prices to go through.

We hope you have enjoyed owning one of the most popular devices on the market and it’s a real mixed bag for our recyclers as prices for the iPhone 12, at the time of the writing, are worse than any other recent release after the first year on the market. The iPhone 12 range has lost on average 41% of the retail price.

So whilst there hasn’t been a lot of movement in price for the time it has been out, the initial drop on their retail value has been so high that it’s becoming even more financially appropriate to make the environmentally responsible choice of keeping your phone for longer.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini: Depreciating the Fastest

iPhone 12 Mini average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Mini have both lost an average of 43% off their retail price at launch. The budget options this year have lost more than the entry level devices of previous years.

iPhone 12 average trade-in price since release

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max: Just About Holding Value

iPhone 12 Pro average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have both lost an average of 38% off their retail value. That works out at an eye watering amount of £569 for the 512GB Pro Max, in just one year. That’s almost £50 a month, similar to the price of the cheapest contracts on the device itself.

iPhone 12 Pro Max average trade-in price since release

iPhone SE (2020): Massive Fluctuations but Steady Now

Apple releasing a truly budget iPhone has proved a really popular decision, the phone itself should last 5+ years with proper care and continual software updates. There was huge fluctuation around the release of the iPhone 12 range, but has evened out in the last couple of months.

iPhone SE (2020) average trade-in price since release

We don't expect this iPhone to drop in value as much as the more premium devices with the launch of the iPhone 13, so expect these resale prices to remain consistent throughout August.

iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max Price History: Rough Start Led to Higher Prices

The iPhone lineup that Apple unveiled back in September 2019 is an interesting one. Firstly, there were three iPhone models with a distinctive pricing strategy and consumer appeal. The iPhone 11 has not been considered to be a low-end iPhone compared to the iPhone XR or SE 2020 for example, but rather as a cheaper flagship model and a move from Apple to introduce a slightly more affordable flagship device to the masses. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max on the other hand offered more premium user experiences which many Apple users would choose as a more lavish option.

iPhone 11 average trade-in price since release

Prices tend to drop suddenly in September, then fairly consistently drop for the following months, this levels out across the new year and remains relatively unchanged until July, which has seen only the high capacity models fall in value more than the others. The iPhone 11 64GB and 128GB are the clear winners after 2 years as they have retained 50% of their original retail price.

iPhone 11 Pro average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 11 Pro prices have dropped at the beginning of the year then slowed down in their depreciation since May. We would expect the offer prices to start increasing for these devices in the short term (end of July, beginning of August 2021).

iPhone 11 Pro Max: Still Very Desireable

iPhone 11 Pro Max average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 11 Pro Max models have followed a similar pattern to the iPhone 11 Pro devices. We will be keeping a very close eye on these as we expect merchants to start bidding up to get these coveted end of contract devices.

The Pro and Pro Max devices have currently dropped an average of 59% off their retail prices, which again reinforces thinking that waiting at least two years to recycle your phone is the optimal time to reduce the amount of depreciation you experience.

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max: The Biggest Drops in Value

iPhone XS average trade-in price since release

After that crazy first year, things have mellowed out a bit for the iPhone XS, and as we spoke about last year, they had some of the sharpest drops in 2020 due to the iPhone 11 range coming in at lower prices than the XS.

This year, the devices have dropped a further 35% on last year’s prices, and a whopping 72% in total. However, some iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models could still get around £300, not bad for a three year iPhone.

iPhone XS Max average trade-in price since release

iPhone XR Price History: A Steady Third Year

The XR enjoyed the highest increases before the launch of the iPhone 12 lineup last year, which may signal a rise in offer prices for the iPhone XS range as merchants look to capitalise on the increase of customers selling their 3 year old iPhones.

iPhone XR average trade-in price since release

Somewhat displaced by the SE 2020, the XR is still a great option 3 years down the line, but may be worth upgrading to a refurbished SE (2020).

iPhone X Price History: Very Little Difference in Capacities

The most interesting feature of the iPhone X pricing is how similar they are, with the difference only being £20. The fact this four year old iPhone can still pocket you between £220 and £240 is pretty impressive. Had you bought this device last year for a refurb price of around £350, you would have only spent around £10 a month on owning the device.

iPhone X average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 8 this year has become the most frequently traded in device, surpassing the three year reign of the iPhone 7. It is still incredibly popular both as the purchase of a refurbished phone and the trade-in to upgrade.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 8 has now been superceded by the iPhone SE 2020 but has still managed to maintain quite a respectable price for trading in. The 64GB iPhone 8 enjoyed a sizeable increase in offer price just this month.

We anticipated that prices will fall when the iPhone 12 series is added to the Apple portfolio. The price was more inconsistent because the iPhone SE 2020 is a direct replacement for the 2017 iPhone models with the older design surrounded by bezels and housing a physical home button.

Older iPhone Price History: iPhone 7 and Earlier

Older iPhones have traditionally retained their value well, and with the news that iOS support is going to continue on the older generation iPhone SE and 6S models for another year, it ensures that these devices will hold on to some of their value in the second hand market for a while longer.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: Retained Their Value Well

You can still fetch up to £100 for your old iPhone 7, mainly due to Apple’s commitment to longevity and keeping the phone supported beyond 2022 will ensure it doesn’t drop too low. If you have one of these 5 year old devices in your cupboard, that would be an easy £100 to make whilst ensuring it still stays in circulation.

iPhone 7 average trade-in price since release

The iPhone 7 Plus is a great phone to hand down to your family members or friends, but if it is going to just languish in a drawer, then you could instead get up to £150 for it. But as it’s being supported for at least another year, if you’ve been using it this long, you should keep going!

iPhone 7 Plus average trade-in price since release

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus: Still Providing Good Value

iPhone 6s average trade-in price since release

As it was released in 2015, the iPhone 6s range reached the bottom curve of its depreciation rate, with one model out of the four increasing by only a small amount over the last three months.

The recycling values of the iPhone 6s Plus models are very similar, with the highest trade-in amount at just £70 at the time of writing. The prices are expected to drop across the board, with the biggest drops occurring on the lowest capacity models.

iPhone 6s Plus average trade-in price since release

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Imminent Drop

Since Apple ended iOS support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, the lowest price we saw this year was £20 in April. The iPhone 6 models can currently be traded-in for just over £40, and these prices are likely to be the best ones you will be able to get for an iPhone 6 in 2021.

iPhone 6 average trade-in price since release

If you have an iPhone 6 Plus in good condition, this will get you slightly more, with prices currently at £50 mark. With the demand from merchants slowing down significantly, these prices are not going to last long. We also would advise you not to use an unsupported device for security reasons, so this is your chance to get the best deal.

iPhone 6s Plus average trade-in price since release

Summary

If you want to buy one of the new iterations of the iPhone (either one of the most recent Apple devices or the latest iPhone 13 when it comes out in September 2021, then ensure that you follow the steps below:

  • Lock in a price before the announcement to ensure the highest pay out. If you are looking to trade in your older iPhone and upgrade to one of the iPhones that Apple is currently offering, then August is your best time to upgrade as the demand for older iPhones among merchants is at its highest and recyclers will be willing to pay extra for a working iPhone in good cosmetic condition.

  • For those of you who tend to upgrade year after year, you ought to keep your eyes peeled for the announcement date and place your trade-in order on the launch day by the latest.

  • Lower capacity versions depreciate at a lower rate in the first year, so if you're a frequent upgrader, consider opting in for the lower capacity model.

  • Higher capacity, premium models hold their value for two or more years. If you are planning to upgrade to one of the iPhone 12 devices, our data tells us that the higher capacity models retain their value better over time, so you will benefit more by paying a slightly higher price for a brand new iPhone with a higher capacity and will get more cash when you decide to sell it. But still think about the environmental impact of a high capacity iPhone.

  • Make sure you follow our step-by-step guide to completely remove your personal data from your phone before selling it.

Andrew Marchant

See more posts by Andrew Marchant