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Re: T-Mobile Jump Questions. Who's right?
Alright, I went and did some actual homework and came up with this:
For flagships, looking at eBay, the M7 does best. It started at $650 and is $350 after 17 months (53% of original value, a $300 loss). The Moto X (16GB) started at $350 and is now $180 (51%, $170) The 16GB S4 is 16 months old and is going for $330, down from $640 (51%, $310). The G2 is worst; it was $575 and is $260 a year later (45%, $315).
The Galaxy Note does much poorer than the S4: it started at $700 and is now $350 only 11 months later (50% value, $350 loss).
The champion? After ten months, the 16GB Nexus 5 is still going for $280, having retailed at $350 (80% value retention, $70 loss). That's not entirely fair considering it's the youngest of the bunch, though, so for context let's look at the 16GB Nexus 4, too: $350 at release, now $150 a whopping 22 months later. That's 42% value retention after almost two full years, and a loss of only $200.
The bottom line for me is this: with Jump, you get maximum value if you upgrade once per year, on the dot. The best you can do is a 50% loss plus your monthly Jump fee on a phone you may have paid extra for to get it from the carrier in the first place (see the Nexus phones). If you buy unlocked and off-contract, you get the same device, can reasonably expect to get roughly half your money back, don't pay $10 a month extra to T-Mobile, and since you actually own the thing from day one, you can make choices about when you want to get rid of it based on when its value is high and something else you want is available. If you want, you can even upgrade more often for less money, because you can sell devices that are only months, not a year or more, old, and are thus still in higher demand, and get much more money for them than T-Mobile's flat 50%.
I get the convenience thing. I respect it, and I wouldn't tell anyone they're wrong to do it. But in my opinion, the fact that you're unlikely to do better financially, and will likely do worse than you would buying and selling through third parties, and the inflexibility of Jump's terms, makes dealing in off-contract devices the better option.