Tuesday 23 October 2012

Living: A Day That I Sold An iPhone 4

Once mighty iPhone 4
Image from dailyiphoneblog
 Hi, it's me talking about iPhone again, this time though, I'm not going to compare it with anything else, just solely talk about how I sold my sister's iPhone 4 in Hong Kong.

Mr Lo, master of the Hong Kong gray market
Image from micgadget
Normally, selling a new iPhone 5 needs little thinking, first get the phone, then go to Sin Tat Plaza in Mongkok, look at the resell prices the shops list out, and sell it to them for quick cash gain. Ka-ching!! If Mr Lo doesn't take your iPhone 5, a bunch of mainland Chinese traders outside Sin Tat Plaza will.

The writers at HardOCP don't understand why Hong Kong people has to win a lottery to get an iPhone, that's because they don't know how aggressive the Chinese are in terms of making money. They will squeeze through every gap possible in systems to make a profit while making sure that they don't cross the legal line. Apple wants to minimise frustration and unfairness, so they came up with this lottery policy, which is why I am still not lucky enough to get my iPhone 5.

Ka Ching! Money in the pocket. Traders outside IFC2
Image from courier journal
Of course, the iPhone 5 lotto has been on for quite awhile now. The gray market price isn't as high as it used to be. I don't exactly know the price now, but I guess there is still a difference of HK$2000 or less. Making an online reservation is still worth the bucks. I am still reserving it every day as long as I can remember to do so.

But if your phone is already a bit too old, like if you still own an iPhone 4 or 4S, then you will need to do some homework to get a better price.

Trade-in your old iPhone is one option to lessen your burden. One of my student Celia went through the troubles and asked the retail stores such as Wilson for their trade-in price. At the time she informed me, the prices were:

iPhone 4 (with no previous repair done)
Black 16Gb $2150
Black 32Gb $2200
White 16Gb $2300
White 32Gb $2350

iPhone 4S (with no previous repair done)
16Gb $3600

One of the many many second-hand gadget buyers in Causeway Bay
Image by Alanala
In the end, she sold her 4S for $3600 to a second-hand gadget buyer in Mongkok instead. Same price as the trade-in price from Wilson, less the attachment of new phone purchase at the store. Good money in the pocket! I hope she's happy with her Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Russell's Street some years ago
Image by Alanala
Having taken her advice, I decided to first ask these second-hand gadget buyers. I chose Causeway Bay because it was nearer to my workplace. There were at least 18 of them on the same pavement of Russell's Street, a pair on each side, spaced out at about a meter away from each other, each sat on a foldable chair with a signboard in front of them showing "iPhone", "iPad", etc. These people probably work 24/7, my guess is, by sitting there and buying second-hand iPhones is already enough to make a good living. One after another, I saw people of different nationalities approaching them with various devices. These buyers seem multilingual enough to reach the negotiation level. I used simple English and asked them, "iPhone 4S, sell you, how much?", one replied me "$2100" verbally, others took out their phone and keyed in $2000. That day I didn't have the phone with me. I wanted to do a bit more research before deciding.

Day 2, I went online and found a nice article from South China Morning Post for expats in Hong Kong, it reports many different ways to sell the old phones, and the author named one shop called The Mobile Phone Direct Selling Centre saying that this shop offers a really good price for iPhone sellers, and so I went online  and found a branch in Causeway Bay,  took the iPhone 4 with me to check out the price.

The big muscular man at the shop was very unwilling to serve, he was playing some kind of game on his Galaxy Note and didn't want to put down, when I told him I wanted to sell my phone and not buy a phone, he eventually put down his phone with all his might and said "$2000", since I walked a long way before reaching this shop, I thought I might as well sell the phone there, so I took the phone out from the box and showed him the well-polished phone. He picked it up with his oily fingers, then he picked up his Note again and made a call. After about two minutes, he gave me an stare and pressed $1800 on the calculator to tell me that he would only offer that price for the phone. In response, I gave him a stare, shook my head and left this unfriendly unwilling dude. Terrible NON-service!

Where did I go then?
Can you see a row of second-hand gadget buyers on their chairs?
Image from Locky's English Playground
I went back to the street buyers just outside Hysan in Causeway Bay. I couldn't find the woman who offered me $2100 the day before, so I went for a second choice. Another female buyer was actually busying with another customer who wanted to sell his Samsung Galaxy S3, but I think he was unhappy with the offer and soon he left with his S3. I told the woman that she said $2000 yesterday, she nodded and fiddled her agile fingers across my iPhone, testing the condition and matching the IMEI against the box's, and before I even knew it, she stuffed my palm with $2000 cash and the deal was done.

I LIKE that! That's my style! Pay and go! No jive at all!

Next time if I want to sell anything, I will look no further. You guys can give it a go too! Let me know how much you sold your old phones by leaving a comment below. I read all comments.

24/7 -- adverb adjective informal twenty four hours a day, seven days a week: all the time
expat -- expatriate (n)  [C] (informal expatsomeone who does not live in their own country
NON-service -- (n) a created word, meaning a service that was not given.
fiddle -- (vb) [T] informal to act dishonestly in order to get something for yourself, or to change something dishonestly, especially to your advantage
jive -- (n) [U] US slang talk which has no meaning or is dishonest


Hong Kong Grey Market Is The World’s First Place to Sell iPhone 5 with Hefty Price Tag (video) @ MIC Gadget

Chinese Have To 'Win The Lottery" To Get An iPhone 5 @ HardOCP

Apple - Reserve and Pick Up @ Apple

iPhone launch draws Apple fans worldwide; man says getting one is better than sex @ Courier Journal

Personal Finance: Used mobile phones @ South China Morning Post

Seize the Moment: Street of Causeway Bay @ A L A N A L A