How to Get an iPhone 5 for Free

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The following post comes from Lindsay Sakraida at partner site dealnews.com.

After months of speculation and rumors, Apple’s latest iPhone has arrived. The iPhone 5 sports a bigger screen, 4G LTE connectivity, and a thinner glass/aluminum design. But how does the contract-subsidized $199 iPhone 5 stack up against the newly discounted $99 iPhone 4S? We compared the major differences between the old and the new to help you decide if the latest iPhone is worth the extra Benjamin.

Is it worth the price?

Unlike the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 is a radical departure from its predecessor. A larger 4-inch display, faster A6 processor, and LTE capabilities are just a few of the iPhone 5’s most compelling new features. Under the hood you’ll also find a dual-band 802.11n antenna (which allows for faster Internet browsing over WiFi) and a 720p-capable FaceTime camera.

Apple also claims it has improved the iPhone 5’s battery life so users can squeeze up to 8 hours of battery life on LTE, whereas 4S owners only get 6 hours on 3G. Whether those battery claims are accurate remains to be seen, though Apple’s estimates have generally proved reliable in the past.

The single new feature that may have iPhone owners hesitant about upgrading is the iPhone 5’s connector: Lightning. With Lightning, Apple is ditching its nearly decade-old 30-pin connector for a smaller one. The iPhone 5 requires a special Lightning 30-pin adapter to work with existing iPhone accessories.

For iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 owners, upgrading to a new iPhone is a no-brainer, especially with Apple’s latest round of price cuts that leave the iPhone 4 at $0 and the iPhone 4S at $99. iPhone 4S owners who are still under contract should wait until their obligations are met before upgrading, or face steep penalty charges from their wireless provider.

How to get the iPhone 5 for free

Thanks to the magic of trade-in sites, it’s possible for iPhone 4 owners to buy an iPhone 5 at a fraction of its retail price, or if you’re lucky, free. (We focus on iPhone 4 owners, since they’re the most recent generation of iPhone users to be eligible for a subsidized phone through a two-year contract extension.)

First, ask your carrier about unlocking your phone – an unlocked iPhone 4 is worth a lot more because it will work with any carrier. With AT&T, for example, if you’re out of your two-year contract and your account is in good standing, you can request that they unlock your old iPhone 4 using this form.

Then trade in your iPhone 4. As of Sept. 13, Glyde is offering up to $205.52 for a 16GB AT&T iPhone 4 with “some scratches.” Amazon Trade-In is also offering $195.50 for a similar “good condition” iPhone 4 16GB. Other sites, such as eBay, can fetch you upwards of $300. (Though keep in mind eBay charges fees for items sold on its sites.) The good news is that even if you waited until today to sell your aging iPhone, there are still a number of trade-in services that are offering a significant amount of money.

So the way to get a free iPhone is to sell your old one, and use the money to offset the cost of your iPhone 5, resulting in a net cost of zero, provided you can get a subsidized price by renewing your contract.

Just don’t wait too long, as the value of your old phone will only continue to go down with time.

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