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The Complete Guide To iPhone Trade-Ins

Understanding the iPhone trade-in process can be pretty complicated. But, don’t worry. I am here to help you.

I will provide a detailed explanation regarding all the possible scenarios of iPhone trade-ins. Whether your screen is cracked, the battery is not working well, or you had a third-party replace the screen, everything is covered thoroughly in this article.

Before delving into details, since you already love Apple, take a look at these must-have iPhone accessories. Check out the latest pricing on Amazon below. 

To make it easier for you, I’ve created a handy check of what you can expect when you trade in your iPhone based on its model, assuming it’s in good condition.

What Is Considered a Major Crack for iPhone Trade-in?

A crack that sits at the very corner of your iPhone is considered a major crack. The crack is not touching the camera or the main screen. It is simply sitting by itself in the corner of the iPhones screen.

Apple is not the company that does the actual trade-in. Instead, a third-party company is responsible for assessing the value of the device. In Canada, it’s Brightstar. In the US, the company is called Phobio. There are strict guidelines these companies have to follow. 

A major crack for Apple might seem a minor crack for others. But, according to the Apple trade-in guidelines, even a small crack on the edge of the screen is considered a major crack. 

Each iPhone is valued for a trade-in based on the condition. If the iPhone is in good condition, which implies that it turns on and functions normally, the cameras work, all the buttons work, the touchscreen and back glass is undamaged, and the body is free of dents and scratches, you will receive a certain amount for varying iPhone’s as you can see in the above chart.

Can You Still Trade-in Your Phone if It’s Cracked?

If your iPhone has a cracked screen, it usually doesn’t have any monetary value for Apple. So you cannot trade your phone. Newer may be recycled for parts. The price largely depends on the extent of the damage.

Yes, there are wacky methods of trying to fix a crack on your phone by using toothpaste, glass fillers, etc., but the company accepting the trade-in will quickly detect such last-resort fixes. If you are willing to trade in your newer generation iPhone, you will receive a quote, but a very unfavorable one.

You can see the Apple trade-in policy here. Your quote will depend on the device, model, manufacture, and condition; however, if it’s cracked, Apple would need to repair it, making it only valuable for spare parts.

If your Apple is still under AppleCare+, it might be worth repairing the screen and trading in the iPhone. To learn everything about AppleCare, please read my detailed article.

We are all clumsy at times, and most of us prefer using our phones without cases. Read my article to find out if dropping your iPhone causes internal damage.

Can You Upgrade iPhone With a Cracked Back?

According to Apple, you can upgrade an iPhone depending on its condition. If you upgrade your iPhone online, you may be charged an incident fee after receiving and assessing your iPhone for damage. If you upgrade at an Apple Store, you may be charged an incident fee at that time.

For more information on the Apple upgrade program, see the Apple policy here.

To most retailers, a cracked back is no different from a cracked screen, and official retailers will offer a very unfavorable deal for a trade-in. However, some retailers will gladly accept the agreement because they can easily fix it and resell it as an almost brand-new phone, so there is some value in a trade-in offer.

Your Apple trade-in value will vary depending on the intensity of the crack. If it’s small, you will pay less. If it’s a big crack, you will pay a lot more as Apple would need to replace the entire shell.

Even if there is absolutely no working mechanism in your iPhone (it won’t even turn on), they contain precious metals such as palladium or gold, making even a broken phone somewhat valuable. It is much more practical to harvest the mentioned materials instead of mining them.

Does Battery Health Affect Trade-In?

Battery health is a crucial aspect of your iPhones condition. Most trade-in programs will directly ask about the iPhone battery health, which is easy to spot, and the iPhone’s cosmetic condition.

When filing for a trade-in, the company which accepts the trade always checks the battery. There is special software that checks how many times the phone has been charged to a 100%, which gives them statistics on the general condition of the phone, more charges than Apple’s guarantee of 500 complete battery cycles imply that the phone has been under heavy usage for an extensive period reducing the trade-in value.

Also, consider that keeping the phone attached to a charger even though it is already 100% charged damages the battery. It happens as heat is bad for the battery, and overcharging heats it up like the sun is terrible for all electronics.

You can always replace your battery as well. Take a look at my article to find out more about whether replacing an iPhone battery is worth it.

Can You Trade in Water-Damaged iPhones?

Apple does not accept water-damaged iPhones for trade-ins. However, depending on the water damage, if some features of your iPhone still work, you can still trade in the iPhone for select retailers.

Some iPhones are IP68 water-resistant, which implies that they can survive a staggering six meters of depth, but that does not mean you should do so intentionally. It is quite simple – Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover water damage because they understand that even though there are IP68 water-resistant iPhones, they might still get damaged. It is generally meant to help your iPhone survive accidental water exposure. 

Please read my detailed guide for a deep dive into iPhones and water damage, including what to do if your phone gets wet.

Every mobile device has ports. It includes speakers, the headphone jack, charging port, and microphone. Unfortunately, once water infiltrates your phone, the damage is done when it reaches the internal circuits.

When this happens, immediately turn the phone off, remove the SIM card, take out your iPhone case, and let it dry under a fan. Do NOT put your iPhone in rice as the starch can damage your iPhone further, and rice is less effective than doing nothing and letting your phone dry!

Can You Trade In iPhone With A Replaced Screen?

You can trade an iPhone with a replaced screen to Apple, but only if an Apple-approved company replaced it. You are more likely to successfully change an iPhone with a third-party screen in an Apple store than online. Apple’s local trade-in partners Phobio or Brightstar, are more diligent in checking if the iPhone has third-party parts.

Apple calls these companies an Apple-authorized service provider. You can find out your closest one on the Apple support page.

Suppose you trade in your iPhone online. In that case, a third party will check whether the iPhone has all of its original parts. However, what might have been replaced with a broken screen or rear glass plate in an Apple store, it’s less likely they will have the technical knowledge to check with a glance whether your iPhone has a replaced screen.

If you’ve been to an Apple Store, you’ll know what I mean. The Store is usually busty packed full of people testing the different products. The Apple Store has a lot more going on than the third-party Apple people whose only job is accessing the quality of your iPhone.

Also, you can exchange your iPhone with in-store credit, making it by far the better option for getting money back for your replaced screen.

Although your iPhone is a completely different color or any modifications, this puts increased scrutiny on your iPhone, so it’s less likely they will replace it. To get an idea of what iPhone improvements Apple’s technicals can know about, please read my detailed article.

Can You Trade In an iPhone With a Third-Party Screen?

Apple will only accept an iPhone trade-in if an Apple-approved company did the screen replacement. You are more likely to successfully trade in an iPhone with a third-party screen than online as Apple’s local trade-in partners Phobio or Brightstar, are more diligent in checking if the iPhone has third-party parts using true tone. Apple does not accept third-party repaired phones if they can detect them.

Starting from the iPhone 8 model, right up to iPhone 11, the phone screen memory can be accessed by trade-in personnel via true tone. However, if you replace it with an original screen, the company accepting the trade will not see the screen change; they can only detect a non-original screen via the method mentioned above.

Starting from iPhone 11, 11 Pro, etc., even if the replaced screen is original, the phone stores a notification that shows the screen has been replaced. 

Apple does not officially recognize most of the iPhone repair companies. Apple isn’t exactly kind towards such companies or individuals. If you try to trade in an iPhone that has parts from companies that Apple does not approve of, the deal might be called off, and what’s even worse is that you might even have to pay to get your iPhone back.

Wonder when you should replace your iPhone? If so, please read my detailed guide on the seven signs that SCREAM buy a new iPhone.

Can You Trade In iPhone if Not Paid Off?

If trading via the iPhone upgrades program, you can upgrade your iPhone after making twelve payments, but you receive no trade-in value. Although if you purchased your iPhone via a carrier or another retail store, you need to contact the company to find out.

Learn more about Apple’s official trade-in program here.

There is no catch here. Apple officially states on their website that you can outright own a new iPhone through a trade-in while you’re paying off the remaining loan. This option might not be feasible for some since you will have to pay both the price margin for your new iPhone and your loan. But if that is not a problem, go for it! 

If you are an AppleCare+ member, I recommend you read my article on whether Apple replacement phones are new. 

A Few Final Thoughts

It is imperative to note that the company that accepts the trade is most definitely at the winning end. The prices for trade-ins at official Apple retailers are not in your favor. You are better off selling your phone on eBay or Craigslist than conducting a trade-in. Of course, this option is viable for people who don’t want to deal with the hustle of selling and buying and want to get a new phone by returning their old one. Still, if money is an issue, the sell mentioned earlier/buy option is quite viable.

Trade-ins only work somehow in your favor only if your iPhone is in good condition. If the screen is cracked, the body is damaged, or there is some other defect, you can always repair your phone at a third-party shop and then sell it for a reasonable price. You are in no way doing anything illegal; many people do that.

It is also worth mentioning that trading in your old iPhone (especially if it is in bad condition) at an Apple recognized shop puts it into a recycling stream, which guarantees that it stays out of a landfill. Electronic devices make up a staggering 70% of the entire toxic waste in landfills, so throwing your non-viable phone away is truly disastrous for the environment. Regardless of the trade-in benefits, you’re a good person who cares for the planet.