The Cheapest Way to Get the New iPhone

The Big Day has come and gone. Apple (AAPL) wowed some and disappointed quite a few more in announcing not an iPhone 5, but the less-inspiring 4S.

The iSkeptics can say what they like; chances are that many of you reading this are going to upgrade. (After all, Apple sold roughly 20 million iPhones last quarter despite not having a new handset available.)

But you may also be on a budget. Much as you like the idea of a fully loaded 64-gigabyte 4S, you're tight-fisted enough to suffer with a feature phone unless the right deal presents itself. Smart. Because there is a way to get the deal you're looking for.

A Better iPhone, Cheap

Want to defray the cost of a shiny new iThingy? You can trade in or sell old gear; Craigslist and eBay (EBAY) aren't your only options.

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Last year, RadioShack (RSH) established a trade-in program in which -- at its best -- it offered the iPhone 4 for $25 to anyone willing to trade in a 3Gs handset. Similar deals won't be available right when the 4S debuts Oct. 12, but wait for Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and anything's possible.

Meanwhile, those unwilling to wait can take comfort in recycling websites that offer cash for old gear. Three options to check out:

  • offers a simple, clean interface and excellent pricing. (My used 16-gig 2G iPhone fetches $32 at the site.)

  • has an even simpler pricing engine, but seems to pay a little less than (My same 2G handset fetches $24 at the site.)

  • Nextworth has a walk-in trade partnership with Target (TGT).

And finally, while eBay may not be the very best option, a quick check of the site shows 16-gigabyte iPhone 3Gs handsets selling for close to $200 apiece. Get that same price for your own gear and you'll need just $199 to get the new 64-gig 4S -- the same price others would pay for the 16-gig version.

So whether you're preparing to upgrade to the 4S, or if Apple's underwhelming event has you looking into a new Android smartphone, a spate of trade-in sites and specials means you needn't pay full price for either.

Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holding and columns, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and RadioShack. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of eBay and Apple as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple.

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