The iPhone X will cost $999. But there are some people who have held onto their original version — with good reason. It could cost you 10 times the price of the iPhone X, which Apple AAPL, -1.21% released Friday.
Some first edition iPhones are more valuable than others. Bob Kraft, a retired business owner in Madison, Wisc., received an offer of $11,000 for an unopened iPhone that came in a factory gift box from Apple with a red ribbon — and he turned it down. His asking price was $15,000. “That was tempting,” he says. “But I’m not in a hurry to sell it.” He’s one of at least a dozen sellers of the 2007 iPhone who is hoping to make hay from the 10th anniversary of the iconic smartphone. He has discounted the phone from $18,000, the price he first listed it for on eBay about five months ago. He’s hoping a collector will see value in the original. “If you open it, it’s only worth a couple of bucks.”
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The iPhone first went on sale on June 29, 2007. Some people have held onto it because they’re sentimental, while others are hoping to make thousands of dollars from their unopened first edition. Jobs announced that he would reinvent the phone and, despite skepticism from his rivals and stiff competition from BlackBerry BB, -2.39% Apple’s AAPL, -1.21% co-founder and former chief executive — who died in 2011 — created a multi-billion-dollar blockbuster. “An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator,” Jobs said at his 2007 presentation. “These are not three separate devices, this is one device.” He added, “What we want do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been, and super-easy to use.”
‘I do still have my original iPhone and it’s still in great working condition. It will always hold a special place in my heart.’
Sarah Jacobs, an associate visual features editor, refuses to recycle her 2007 iPhone and was using it up until just a couple of years ago. “Even though I’ve recycled every other iPhone I’ve owned, there’s something about the original that keeps me hanging on as though one day it might be worth money.” And it is — at least, that’s what collectors are hoping. The original, unopened 2007 iPhone is selling for anything from $3,500 to $20,000 on eBay EBAY, +0.19% Contrast this with owners of used 2007 iPhones. They sell for a meager 75 cents (and resell for a paltry $1.25) and, Morgan MacArthur, chief technology officer at price-comparison company Flipsy, says there’s no demand for them. (Apple did not respond to request for comment on the resale market for the original iPhone or sales of iPhone 7.)
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Ten years is a long time in smartphone technology. The first generation iPhone, which cost $499 for a 4-gigabtye model and $599 for an 8-gigabyte model, was a major upgrade for people using flip phones. Those flips could text, email and access the internet, but not do much more than that. The 2007 iPhone also has a shorter battery life, less sophisticated camera, is not hot-wired for the faster 4G wireless networks, does not play many new apps and does not have Siri, the voice-activated search engine. And yet some folk are unwilling to part with it. “I do, in fact, still have my original iPhone and it’s still in great working condition,” says Brant DeBow, executive vice president of technology for BiTE interactive. “It will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the phone that kicked off our company.” (His company makes apps.) He recently bought an iPhone 7, although his favorite video game is only available on his 2007 version.
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The superlatives Apple uses for each phone are only matched by the upgrades. Last year, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said, “iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus dramatically improve every aspect of the iPhone experience, reaching a new level of innovation and precision to make this the best iPhone we have ever made.” Sound familiar? In 2013, he hailed the iPhone 5S as “the most forward-thinking phone we have ever created.” He said as much about the iPhone 5: “Never before have we built a product with this extraordinary level of fit and finish.” Before that, the iPhone 4S was called “the most amazing iPhone yet.” And before that, the iPhone 4 was, to quote Jobs, “the most beautiful thing we have ever made.”
But upgrading to older models and slower growth in the iPhone 6S has caused a slowdown in Apple revenue, analysts say. Earlier this year, numerous analyst reports suggested that the iPhone was running into production issues, which could delay shipments. Kevin Rieffel, an attorney who lives near Philadelphia, is one customer who still has his original 2007 iPhone in a desk drawer, but has so far resisted the lure of even the iPhone 7. “I’ve upgraded at least once since 2014 to the 64GB iPhone 6 Plus,” he says. “I’m partial to the bigger screen, faster wireless data and better battery life.”
For aficionados like Rieffel, the 2007 iPhone may not be the smartest or fastest, but it’s still the best.