Suddenly very confused about selling a subsidized iPhone

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Melodeath, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. Melodeath macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    I'm having a bit of a braindead moment...

    Are you "allowed" to sell an iPhone after one year if you bought it subsidized on a two-year contract? AT&T will not unlock the phone if your contract is not done, but can't you just list the phone as being locked to your carrier, and all would be fine? Then just use another family members upgrade and get yourself the newest phone?

    I sold my one-year-old subsidized 5S through craiglist last year, and the guy complained afterwards and had to pay for some service to unlock it. I figured that's because he was from Europe, and not on AT&T, as I had advertised he needed to be, but was it actually because I did something you're not supposed to do?

    Are these trade-in services like Gazelle or Amazon not for subsidized phones? How can they offer you more money than you even paid for the phone?
  2. supersalo macrumors 6502


    May 14, 2010
    No, you can't because you still owe money for the phone.

    The subsidized plan works like this:

    Full retail price - upfront cost (ie, $699-$199)

    That leaves $500 to pay off over 24 months.

    If you've only paid in one year, you still owe around $250 in this example.
  3. Melodeath thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    I am on a FamilyTalk plan from long before they even offered NEXT. Phones were always bought at the subsidized price back then. Does what your saying still apply?

    Does this mean none of the trade-in services apply to me unless I've kept the phone for 2 years?
  4. supersalo macrumors 6502


    May 14, 2010
    Right. If you get rid of the phone after one year, you still owe AT&T money. You've only paid for half the phone.
  5. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    I don't know if it works differently in the States than in Canada, but I see people sell phones before their contracts are done all the time. The phone belongs to you, not the carrier. The cost of the phone will still be worked into your monthly bill until your contract is done though.

    For instance, while I was still on contract for my 5s, I got a 6, put my SIM card in it, and gave the 5s to a family member with the same carrier. I could have just as easily sold it.
  6. Oridus macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2012
    You can do whatever you wish with your phone from day 1. It will not be unlocked by the carrier, however, until the subsidy duration (2 years for contract) or installment plan is completed, or unless you pay for the phone 100% retail up front. A third party unlocking service can be used (however not "recommended") for the first two situations.

    You're not doing anything wrong by selling your phone before a contract is up, though.
  7. Melodeath thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    I'm not planning to leave AT&T, though, so I'm still paying them my monthly bill for the next year.

    Yes, good points. My family plan is just so old, and everyone is buying phones outright now, I was wondering if I was so behind the times that I was actually doing something that's not allowed by accident haha
  8. Melodeath thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    Thank you. So I suppose this is why you must select "AT&T" or "Verizon" when you go to a trade-in service like Gazelle? Since the phones are locked and on contract?
  9. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    Yes, it's not like you're renting the phone, you own it. No matter what you do you will end up paying for it in full. If you continue to receive service from your carrier you will still be paying for the phone every month. If you choose to end your contract early, you will have to pay whatever is still owed for the phone.
  10. pragmatous macrumors 65816

    May 23, 2012
    I've bought a new phone while still on contract and then sold my other phone when I got tired of android I bought the iphone 5 outright. I activated my phone on verizon without issue. Used my iphone 5. Sold my crappy android phone for 40 dollars.

    You can still buy a new phone, swap it out, and sell the other phone.

    I think people are purposely communicating false information on purpose to confuse people.
  11. Oridus macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2012
    Yes, they're just trying to figure out where the phone originated from. Those services will generally give LESS money for smaller carriers (regional) or more restrictive (sprint) since they cannot be used in as many places as other phones.
  12. terraphantm macrumors 68040

    Jun 27, 2009
    That's not how subsidized plans work.

    AT&T agrees to sell you the phone for $200 as long as you commit to keeping service with AT&T. You own that phone on day 1 and can do whatever you want with it. If you choose to terminate your contract, you have to pay an early termination fee; you do not have to turn in the phone (and it is actually impossible to). This is *not* the same as paying off the phone, because there is nothing to pay off.

    So yes, he can legally sell the phone, and not worry about any issues.
  13. pdxmatts, Sep 11, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015

    pdxmatts macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2013
    Portland, OR
    When subsidizing, you own the phone but will be responsible for paying for it for 2 yrs. If you don't upgrade after the two yrs, they just keep on charging you the $40 subsidized line fee. I am on a over 10gb value plan so our line fees are $15. We bought our 6's with NEXT and ATT unlocked our phones 2 mos after we got them.
  14. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    Absolutely right. Although, the termination fee is in effect paying off the phone. My carrier explicitly lists the fee as the "device balance" which only reaches $0 at the end of the contract. The point is, the phone is yours and you own it from day 1, but you do end up paying the full price for it over the duration of the contract.

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