Recently, Apple has been trying to emphasize its growing commitment to sustainability by doing things like only sourcing paper products from managed forests and making sure a new tree is planted for each one removed. As part of the sustainability push, the company is also doubling down on encouraging consumers to use Apple Trade In. So Good Housekeeping joined Apple's CEO Tim Cook at a special press event before he accepted an award from Ceres, a nonprofit organization focused on sustainability.
During the event, Cook made it clear that Apple is committed to its environmental initiatives. Just last year, the company was able to achieve its goal of running on 100% renewable energy. Now, he said Apple's next big push is to close the loop on its supply chain, meaning the company wouldn't need to take anything new from the planet in order to make its products.
While many of Apple's efforts are beyond a consumer's reach, the Trade In program, which has been around since 2013, isn't. In fact, the company reports that nearly eight million people received refurbished phones through the program last year, which is why Apple is promoting it now more than ever.
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"I feel like this year we’ve really moved the dial on getting the consumer to think about trade in," Cook said in response to a question about future innovations to Apple's trade-in program.
If you're a new Apple user or an old one who had no idea about the program, it basically allows you to get a new phone for less money by selling back your old one. For example, the brand-new iPhone 11 that everyone wants currently retails for $699, but if you trade in an old phone, you could get the iPhone 11 for $399 (based on the value of an iPhone 8 Plus) — or less if your phone is even newer. That's good news for consumers, especially considering the significant price increase of Apple products over the years.
If you want more information about, here's a deeper dive into what you need to know about Apple's trade-in program.
How does Apple Trade In work?
Online, you just need to answer a few questions about your device's brand, model, and condition (like if the buttons work and if the screen is free of cracks). Based on your answers, the site will tell how much it's worth and offer you the money on an Apple gift card. You can trade in phones, tablets, computers, and watches. Then, just fill out your address to get a trade-in kit so you can send your old phone back.
In stores, you can just tell an Apple employee that you want to trade in your device. Instead of getting the money on a gift card, you can opt to put it directly toward a new purchase in stores. (But gift cards are still an option.) Just note that Apple stores can't accept computer trade-ins, so you'll have to do that online.
For an idea of how much money your iPhone is worth, Apple lists estimates on its site based on the model. It ranges from up to $100 for an iPhone 6s to up to $600 for an iPhone XS Max. (The site says I would get back $300 for my iPhone 8 Plus, but you won't get money back for anything older than an iPhone 5S.)
What happens to your old device?
It depends on its condition. If your device is still in good shape, then it'll be sold refurbished to someone else. The same thing goes when you use the iPhone Upgrade program, which requires monthly payments (starting at $35) in order to get a new iPhone every year.
Cook noted during the press event that Apple makes sure the "highest percentage humanly possible of [traded-in iPhones] wind up back in the hands of someone who wants them." Don't worry: Apple will show you how to back up your data and completely wipe your device so your personal information stays safe.
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If it's not in working condition, then Apple will offer to recycle it for you so that the materials get another life. For example, Apple says the aluminum from old iPhones gets recycled into MacBook Air enclosures. There's even a recycling robot named Daisy that can take apart 200 iPhones an hour in order to reuse as many materials as possible.
Other stores and websites (like Amazon, Best Buy, Gazelle, and Target) also have similar trade-in programs, but the amount you'll get back can vary.
Amina is a product review writer and editor who worked as an editorial assistant in the Good Housekeeping Institute from 2018 to 2020, writing original content based on GH Lab experts' product testing and analysis. Amina graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in communication studies and journalism.