Just a few hours before Apple is set to announce its new iPhone 5S and 5C, Walmart has announced its own smartphone trade-in program, which will allow iPhone or other smartphone owners to bring in their phones and trade them in for credit towards a new phone. The program, will launch on Sept. 21 at 3,600 Walmart Stores and 500 Sam's Clubs locations across the country.
While Walmart is not detailing the specifics on trade-in values today, Steve Bratspies, EVP of general merchandise for Walmart U.S., told ABC News that customers will be able to get anywhere between $50 to $300 in credit when the bring in an older, working smartphone.
Walmart, like Apple and Best Buy, will not accept non-working phones for the trade-in program. Walmart says it will accept any working smartphone, however, to get the credit you must sign up for a new two-year contract from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon at the store or sign up for one of Walmart's pre-paid wireless plans.
While Bratspies didn't detail the exact prices customers would get when you agree to those terms, he said an AT&T 16GB iPhone 5 in good condition would get customers $300 in credit, similar to what Apple is offering. If a customer had an iPhone with more storage capacity they could get more than $300 for it, he said. A 16GB Samsung Galaxy S3 will be valued at about $175. Some online trade-in sites like Gazelle and Glyde offer a better value, however, Bratspies says Walmart will offer convenience to its customers that the online programs don't.
"We think what is different with ours is our simplicity," Bratspies told ABC News. "We are not going to get into the scratched or it is nicked and you get it right away. Online you go through the process and there is the time to wait and those sorts of things."
Bratspies also hopes the program will boost sales and visibility of Walmart's mobile programs, but ultimately, he sees what many others are seeing: people are upgrading faster and are looking to make money off their phones before they get a new one. Gazelle, one of the early online trade-in players, has built a $100 million business on Apple product trade-ins alone. And this year it expects to see two to three times last year's iPhone trade-in volume.
Apple itself saw the same opportunity and launched its own in-store trade-in program at the end of August.
When asked if the Sept. 21 launch of the program was to coincide with the iPhone 5S and 5C launch or Apple's own trade-in program, Bratspies said, "we thought it was a good time. We thought it was the right time for the customer perspective and we thought we could deliver a program in the Walmart way: simple for the customer."