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iPhone 5 prices rise on eBay even as Apple sunsets the device

The Cupertino, Calif., computer maker will stop selling the previous generation smartphone, but demand for it is up even as iPhones 5C and 5S are waiting in the wings, if some prices on eBay are any indication.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
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Joan E. Solsman
3 min read

The new generation of iPhones pushed Apple's stock price down today, but it has the price of the last generation device going higher.

Apple on Tuesday unveiled its new flagship iPhone 5S and a new lower-end smartphone, the iPhone 5C. It marks Apple's first significant product unveiling in nearly a year, following the iPad Mini in October, in a bid to reawaken interest in its devices after a year plagued by troubles like activist investor complaints and criticism of labor practices.

And it seems to be working, only the demand is materializing for the phone that is now passe.

On the eBay, the average selling price for an AT&T 16 gigabyte iPhone 5 has jumped nearly $80 since Monday, rising to $441.39 today from $361.44, according to the auction site.

Versions of the phone that were previously fetching a high price tag for resale have been mostly holding their value. A 16GB Verizon model sold for $433 on average yesterday. Now, it's $429.

An eBay representative noted that the stark price increase for the AT&T version isn't typical, and that such dramatic variances between one carrier's phone and another is unusual as well. eBay has a My Gadgets offering that lets users catalog their tech collections and see the current value of each of their tech items to help inform selling decisions.

The jump is in spite of how announcements of a new phone stoke a flood of sale offers, as people eager to upgrade to the next phone look to offset the price of having to sign another mobile-carrier contract or pay the unsubsidized rate.

One factor at play is probably how much was known about iPhone 5S and 5C ahead of time, which may have smoothed out supply. For a company that endeavors to plug all leaks, the two phones and some of their key features were widely known before the official presentation. It's possible people who were interested in selling their phone came to the market earlier than they would typically because they already knew so much about the new handhelds.

In addition, the fact that Apple is no longer making the iPhone 5 means scarcity is in the early stages of setting in.

Another factor could be the demand side of the supply/demand relationship. Demand for iPhone 5 could be higher because consumers are underwhelmed by the upgrades to the flagship device or by a "budget" phone that costs $549 for customers without a contract.

We'll get a sense of consumer demand for the new products when preorders for 5C begin Friday and when lines start to snake in front of Apple stores ahead of both phones' availability on September 20.

For the time being, iPhone 5 doesn't seem to be losing any luster by lacking that gold sheen.

Apple unveils iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C (pictures)

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Updated at 3:03 p.m. PT: to include more information about price comparisons from eBay.