Used phones need to become a thing

T-Mobile USA, one of the four big operators in the country, announced a new rate plan (tariff for those of you in Europe) yesterday called “Jump“. Here’s how it works in a nutshell: You give T-Mobile an extra $10 per month, and then every six months you’ll be allowed to upgrade your phone. The catch being you still have to pay what T-Mobile calls a “downpayment”, and more importantly you need to give T-Mobile your current phone.

No, that’s not a typo. You need to give your phone back to your operator in order to get a new one. That might sound scary, but I think it’s a great idea. For one thing, it helps out the environment. If you don’t want your six month old flagship handset from HTC or Samsung anymore because you’re a spec whore, then why not give it back to T-Mobile so they can sell it to someone who wants the device?

Apple’s iPhone “product portfolio”, if you even want to call it that, is to simply sell old phones. Their “midrange” device is a year old iPhone. Their “budget” device is a two year old iPhone. I’m personally a fan of the strategy, but now I’d like to see used phones become a substantial part of the smartphone market.

Is it a logistical nightmare? Absolutely. Do you honestly think Samsung wants to deal with refurbishing millions of handsets? Of course not. They’ll probably work like car dealerships work, where the refurbishing happens at a local level. But then you have to deal with fabricating parts, training people, and so on and so forth.

Still, I think there’s something here, and there are even rumors saying Apple wants to start a program where you can give them your old iPhone for a discount on a new iPhone. What are they going to do with all those old iPhones? Probably fix them up and resell them.