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Your old iPhone could be worth a guaranteed $250

One buyback site is offering a nice premium on unwanted iPhone 4s, plus a 21-day price lock. Of course, there is one way to make that old phone even more valuable...

Trade in the past before the future arrives.
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

As many as 40 percent of consumers say they plan to snag an iPhone 5 once it's available. Now, I'm no statistician, but I do have the equivalent of at least an 8088 processor in my cranium, and it tells me that probably a few of those folks are current iPhone 4 owners.

That could mean that a lot of households are about to gain a nifty new coaster, hockey puck, or doorstop with an Apple logo on the back. Or they could turn it into enough cash to by three old school Kindles or one of those spiffy flaming Kindles you may have heard about.

Nextworth's electronics buyback service is guaranteeing $250 for all 16GB and 32GB AT&T iPhone 4s "in good working condition with no heavy scratches or cracks" between now and the day before Apple announces the next iPhone, which is set for Tuesday. That amounts to a $50 premium that seems to fly in the face of basic economics, since the market is about to become flush with unwanted iPhone 4s.

Nextworth lets you lock in the $250 price on your iPhone now, and you then have 21 days to send it in, so you might just be able to have a new iPhone in your hot little hands by the time you have to give up the old one.

By comparison, buyback service Gazelle is currently offering $163 for the same phone in good condition, or $225 in pristine, like-new shape. I also noticed that jailbroken iPhone 4s seem to be selling for more than $400 at auction on eBay, not that I'd ever encourage that kind of thing--the word jailbreak sounds kind of illegal, and besides, if something went awry, it might be difficult to sell the resulting brick for more than a few bucks.