Apple is, as usual, remaining tight-lipped about whether it will be releasing any new devices this autumn — and even if there will be an event scheduled for September 12, as many have been reporting. Meanwhile, here is a sign that the company could be preparing for a new phone launch: Apple is offering users an option to recycle their iPhone 4S devices for up to $345 back in the form of an Apple Gift Card. Apple is among a number of other companies that have already been offering 4S device rebates (here’s a top 10 list from 9to5mac), with the highest offer being $500 on Amazon.
The addition of the 4S to the list was pointed out earlier by The Next Web, although it’s not clear whether the 4S models were added today or some time previously. Apple’s store had been down for several hours earlier today and this could have been the reason why. We have contacted Apple to ask and will update as we learn more.
Apple’s highest offer of $345, and Amazon’s for $500, is for the most premium of the devices: the 64GB White iPhone 4S. A black 16GB version of the 4S will net $285 from Apple, according to an estimate it uses from PowerON.
These prices are for devices that are in good condition — no water damage, no cracks, no scuff marks. In return, users get a Apple Gift Card — usable, of course, for either another Apple iPhone or towards another Apple product.
When you trade in your phone, if the device is in good order, Apple says it gets resold as used or reconditioned; if it’s not in good repair it gets broken down for recycling responsibly.
The recycling issue is a huge one and there is a lot of pressure on phone makers to play a bigger role in helping to manage it. According to one estimate from the United Nations, global electronic waste is growing to 40 billion tons every year, and mobile phones are a billion-device contributor to that problem.