updated 07:08 pm EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
US customers encouraged to migrate from iPhone 4 and 4S
Halfway through the expected sell-cycle of the latest iPhones, Apple is reaching out to customers who have held on to older models with a special promotion at all of its US retail stores, as reported previously. Those who own iPhone 4 and 4S phones are being offered $99 and $199 (respectively) for good-condition working units that can be put towards a new iPhone 5c or 5s, bringing the up-front cost down to as little as $0.
The company took the unusual step of emailing registered iPhone 4 and 4S owners to let them know about the promotion, offering to perform an eligibility check with the users' carrier, or inform them about Apple's Reuse and Recycle program. Although the 5c and 5s are at least midway through the yearly cycle of being current, Apple is expected to support the models for another couple of years if it keeps to the tradition of moving the models down the pricing scale as they are superseded by newer models, which generally arrive in the fall.
Readers have reported that the program also accepts the iPad 2 and later for trade-in, with the additional balance (if any) being given back to the user in the form of an Apple Store gift card. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple may push forward the iPhone launch this year, with at least one new model possibly appearing as early as August.
Though Apple is widely expected to launch a redesigned "iPhone 6" sometime later this year that is thought to include a larger display and other new features, the current promotion hopes to catch those who have kept their older iPhones near to the end or beyond the length of their contract, The iPhone 5s in particular, thanks to its notably more advanced features, will remain a significant leap forward from the perspective of a current iPhone 4 or 4S owner even after the "iPhone 6" debuts. It is currently among the best-selling individual model of smartphone at all the major US carriers, though the recent release of the Samsung Galaxy S5 softened sales in April.
Apple generally retains the current "top of the line" model and reprices it as the "midpoint" model after a new model comes out, then the older iPhone eventually becomes a "entry-level" model thanks to the economies of scale, enabling Apple to cleverly keep iPhones models in production far longer than most rivals. The company only just, with finality, ended production on the iPhone 4, originally introduced in 2010 (it had temporarily revived production to serve developing markets, but has now seemingly passed that duty on to the 4S).