How to resell a subsidized AT&T iPhone 4S?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by bretmartin, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. bretmartin, Nov 21, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011

    bretmartin macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #1
    I have a phone-upgrade-eligible AT&T account.

    I want to purchase an iPhone 4S 32GB at the subsidized price ($299), and resell that unit, preferably sealed and unopened, on eBay. I expect to be able to sell it for somewhere between $550 and $650 based on completed eBay listings for such units.

    Then I'm also going to purchase a factory unlocked iPhone 4S 32GB ($749) to actually use.

    In this way I hope to end up with an unlocked unit for less than $749 net ($299 + $749 - $550 = ~$500).

    What I'm unclear on is how to handle the SIM cards and activation.

    1. Will the micro SIM in the unit I buy subsidized be somehow linked to my account even before I activate it?
    2. I have an existing AT&T SIM that I can cut to micro size (I have a cutter) for use in the unlocked unit. Is there any reason to get a new micro SIM from AT&T instead of using that card?
    3. Will AT&T automatically switch me to the iPhone plan even though I won't activate the subsidized 4S? In other words, when does the iPhone data plan get added -- when I purchase or when I activate? (I'm not interested in skirting the requirement for an iPhone-specific data plan.)

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. bruinsrme macrumors 601

    bruinsrme

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  3. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

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    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #3
    Yes. The reason I want the unlocked phone is that I frequently travel internationally.
     
  4. bruinsrme macrumors 601

    bruinsrme

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    #4
    Don't worry about the sim, you can walk into any corporate store and get a new sim.
    You may have to help the buyer swap over the imei number but that just a 611 call.
    If you buy a phone at a Store they will activate it before you leave.
    Online that my differ.
     
  5. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    #5
    You're going to have to activate the subsidized phone first. In other words, you can't sell it unopened. Otherwise, the only way the person will be able to use the phone is to activate the phone. It would activate on your account (he will need some of your personal information). It's just a mess from that point onwards (some random person with your working number). You're better off just doing it yourself. Just post a picture of your receipt with a date to prove how new the device is.
     
  6. Shadowbech macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #6
    Why use your upgrade just to get the subsidized iphone and sell it on ebay, whereas you can just buy factory unlocked iphone without using your upgrade? IMO it's just stupid just to use your upgrade and get locked out for 18 month just to sell it and get factory unlocked.
     
  7. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #7
    Aha, that's the key information I was looking for. I am not familiar with how the activation process works, so I didn't know if it was tied to an account at the time of purchase -- from what you've said, it sounds like it is.

    ----------

    It seems to me that I should use upgrades as soon as possible every time, in order to maximize their value. The upgrade is worth something like $450 in the case of the iPhone ($749 - $299 in the case of the 32GB iPhone 4S). I'd rather get $450 every 18 months than, say, every 24 or 36 months.

    I'd love to be corrected if there is a flaw in my logic.
     
  8. Shadowbech macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #8
    But then it is your decision so it is up to you how you want to do it. My sister never upgrade since iphone 3G. She has recently upgraded to iphone 4S.
     
  9. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #9
    You're absolutely right IMO, since AT&T doesn't lower your rate for being out of contract like carriers in other countries do. In the USA, the best solution is to carve out an upgrade phone from your contract at EVERY opportunity. You're paying the subsidy either say, so you may as well take advantage of it.

    Personally I keep the upgrades and sell the old phones to cover the upgrade cost, usually netting break-even or even a small gain in the process. However given your situation with international travel I think your plan makes sense. You'll end up spending more than just getting the subsidized phone for yourself, but the savings from using prepay SIMs when you travel internationally should cover that difference.
     
  10. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
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    Boston, MA
    #10
    So it seems to me that she's "left some cash on the table", as they say, by not using her upgrade sooner.
     
  11. Shadowbech macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #11
    well the thing is we don't usually use our upgrades that easily and we just use the phone we have until they die on it's own or cease to work. My mom never used her upgrade since 2006. She upgraded because her phone broke not too long ago. For us we only use our upgrade when necessary. Not every time we are eligible.
     
  12. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #12
    I'm still going to sell the old phone too, but I'm unsure of its value so I'm conservatively assuming it's $0 in my calculations.

    I'm willing to pay something for the privilege of using local prepay SIMs just so I can use my iPhone abroad at all. (I refuse to pay AT&T international roaming costs at all.) In my situation I'm basically paying $250 or so for that privilege, before any potential savings for the delta between AT&T and local SIM costs. I'm OK with that.

    ----------

    I understand. I think you should consider using the upgrade and reselling it in order to minimize how much AT&T is screwing you by subsidizing phones but not lowering your monthly costs once your subsidy is paid off.

    ----------

    So I just noticed a lot of people are selling sealed AT&T units on eBay. How are they doing this? Surely they didn't purchase them at the unsubsidized price.

    ----------

    Some of them say "this unit is sealed, but you must agree that we will open it upon sale to pull the SIM, and you have to get your own SIM". I guess that answers that.
     
  13. Shadowbech macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2011
    #13
    Yea well that's me and nothing can stop me from it. I'd rather not use my upgrade at all. If my phone is working, it is working, no need to upgrade when it's working.

    Coming from conservative family, I have been taught not to upgrade when the device you already have is working. And I will keep it that way till the end of my life. I'd rather save money on something else. Plus it's just a device. As long as it work it's still a smart phone.

    Also not to mention I have 2 years left till I graduate and I don't know whether I will continue to live in U.S or move out. So this way I would not use the upgrade so I don't have to pay ETF when I need to terminate my account.
     
  14. bmms8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2007
    #14
    i think the OP plan makes perfect sense, but i would try to sell locally, or through someone you know on FB if you have friends who might be interested. I wouldnt want to get hit with PP or ebay fees iiwy, gl.
     
  15. Ivabign macrumors 6502

    Ivabign

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Location:
    SoCal
    #15
    I have a Verizon version of this question - In May of this year I sold my wife's iPhone 4 on ebay and bought a white iPhone 4 on craigslist. I met the gentleman at a restaurant and he handed me a sealed verizon iPhone 4 - I called up Verizon and switched my wife's service from the black one to the new white one - I opened the box and the rest is history.

    I opened a sealed box - no quick activation on the old phone.

    The reason I ask is that I just used an upgrade on my line - I have a iPhone 4 that I love - and a new 4s sealed in the box.

    I was considering selling the 4s - but if I have to jump through hoops to activate and cancel activation... yada yada yada - I might just keep the 4s - but to be honest, I could use the money and my 4 is fine for my needs.

    Can I sell the Verizon 4s without opening the seal? Like the one I purchased in May?
     
  16. i hate phones macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    Philly Suburbs, PA
    #16

    don't forget about ebay/paypal fees... are you sure you can't get more for a practically brand new iphone? i would think you'd get close to its full value. have you thought about craigslist? I understand your logic from the get what you can from the carrier perspective, but for you personally you're not really saving the 450 if you're not selling it for its full value... its more like 250 if you're getting a 750 phone for 500 (and i don't think you included the ebay/paypal fees in there). if your numbers are right... i'd just buy the unlocked version outright, save my upgrade for the iphone5 (with no etf) and either upgrade and use that phone or upgrade on launch day and make even more money selling it when they're hard to find.
     
  17. identity macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    #17
    Why don't you just buy an unlocked iphone 4s straight up? You're just wasting time by jumping through all these hoops.

    299 for iphone 4s.
    36 activation fee.
    350 etf
    Total - $685

    Selll it for 550-650 on Ebay. Let's say for 650. Still out 35.

    Buy unlocked iphone 4s - 749 plus tax so close to 800.

    You're actually losing money give or take some sales numbers so it's not worth it.
     
  18. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #18
    Here's an Excel spreadsheet to figure out the most valuable model on eBay based on the delta between average sale price and subsidized price. Right now the white 64GB is the winner with a net of $427.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #19
    There is no ETF in my situation, as described in my original post. I have an existing AT&T account and will not be terminating it; quite to the contrary I'll be upping its monthly service fee by adding the iPhone data plan.

    ----------

    Thanks for pointing this out. I didn't consider the fees in my equation. I may still use eBay or Craigslist (as suggested by another poster) for the convenience factor since I don't think I know anyone locally.

    ----------

    Believe me, I'm not trying to tell you what to do -- I just think you're losing money.

    You don't need to replace your working phone -- I totally agree that working electronics should live on -- but I think reselling the upgrade is financially beneficial to you.
     
  20. bretmartin thread starter macrumors member

    bretmartin

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #20
    Here's my final calculation.

    Code:
     $749  - unlocked iPhone 4S 32GB
     $399  - subsidized iPhone 4S 64GB (to maximize net resale proceeds)
     $ 18  - AT&T activation fee for existing account
     $ 73  - 6.25% sales tax
    ($826) - expected resale price for subsidized unit on eBay
     $ 65  - eBay fee
     $ 24  - PayPal fee
    
     $502  - net cost
    
    This is $203 higher than the cost of a subsidized 32GB unit, and $247 less than the cost of an unlocked 32GB unit.
     
  21. PLin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2003
    #21
    Do the AT&T locked iPhones really fetch that much on ebay?

    I did something similar, except I sold on craigslist. I avoid using ebay due to too many scammers. I used my upgrade to get a 64GB for $399, sold it for $725, and bought an unlocked one for $849. My girlfriend signed up for new service and bought a 32GB for $299, I sold it for $600, and I bought her an unlocked one for $749.

    In both cases, we paid about a $200 premium for the unlocked model after taxes and other fees. I bought all the iPhones using a credit card with cash back rewards, so that helped too. We travel to Asia regularly, so the ability to use foreign SIM cards saves us a lot of money.

    If I had to do it over again, I would probably buy the subsidized 16GB model to sell. I think it's easier to get $500 ($300 profit) for a 16GB than it is to get $600 for a 32GB or $700 for a 64GB. People with $600-700 usually have enough money to pay full price at the store.
     
  22. Chodarth macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2011
    #22
    What about switching to Sprint or Verizon? I think the Sprint version currently comes unlocked and both Verizon and Sprint have stated that they will unlock the iPhone 4s for customers in good standing (usually 90 days I believe). If your AT&T contract is up why not switch. No need to buy and resell. There is also this

    http://osxdaily.com/2011/11/17/unlock-the-iphone-4s/

    Not sure if it's something Apple will patch with an update but apparently it's working for now.
     
  23. MrXiro macrumors 68040

    MrXiro

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #23
    I'm doing something similar... my mom and dad only use dumb phone so we can easily just pick up a GO phone and stick a SIM card in it....

    We just ordered two 4S phones from At&t.

    Do I just pop the SIM out and I'm able to sell it or do I need to activate it first?
     
  24. ApplesAndOrangs macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2011
    #24
    You'll be paying $15+ a month for the iphone data plan. Why isn't that factored in?

    If you bought an unlocked, you wouldn't have to pay $15 a month for 18 months.

    ----------

    Activate it first.
     
  25. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #25
    Huh? Data plans are a feature not tied to the contract; so the plan for the second 4S can be dropped once the line is dissociated with the iPhone IMEI.
     

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