Apple Reportedly Planning Trade-In Program For iPhones, Similar To Existing Third-Party Buy-Back Plans

Apple is said to be looking into an iPhone trade-in program on used devices in order to “add sales,” according to a tweet from Bloomberg today. Bloomberg says that this would be the “first time” Apple has attempted something like this on its homepage, but that’s not entirely true – the company started a program to accept iPhone trade-ins back in August of 2012, and would offer up to $345 in Apple Store credit in exchange for a used iPhone 4 or 4S leading up to the iPhone 5 launch in September.

Apple partnered with a company called PowerOn to run that program, which was dubbed the “Apple Recycling Program.” This time around, Bloomberg says that according to its sources, these trade-ins would be handled by Brightstar Corp., a “mobile-phone” distributor, to offer the program. Buy-backs would allow users to defray the cost of brand new hardware, which means more new device sales for Apple, and would also supply Apple with a healthy stock of devices to refurbish, should it decide to go that route and offer reconditioned models at a lower cost of entry. That could also help it achieve broader reach in developing markets, the report suggests.

The difference in this case from existing plans would be that this trade-in program would be available only at Apple retail locations, allowing for in-person trade-ins of devices that would happen on the spot, allowing them to walk right out with a new device after “receiving payments” for their older devices. The report doesn’t specify whether buyers would receive store credit that can be used generally, or a rebate specifically applicable to a new iPhone device.

The current going rate for a used iPhone 5 on popular gadget trade-in sites like Gazelle and uSell range from around $100 to about $350. With its partner PowerOn, Apple’s own prices for used iPhones fell somewhere in the middle-top of buy back estimates, though Amazon’s own trade-in program beat its prices in every case, according to ZDNet.

We’ve reached out to Apple for more information, and will update this story with any additional details.