iphone.jpgSAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ EBay Inc. said Tuesday that its electronics-buyback service will buy people's old smart phones for at least $200 as the company anticipates a crush of consumers replacing them with Verizon Wireless' version of the iPhone.


Under the promotion, which runs until Feb. 22, the Instant Sale service will pay $200 for a functional iPhone 3GS from Apple Inc., Droid X from Motorola Mobility Inc., Evo 4G from HTC Corp. or Galaxy S Vibrant from Samsung Electronics Co. This price is the same price that Verizon will charge for the cheaper 16-gigabyte iPhone (with a two-year wireless service contract) when it starts selling the popular device online on Wednesday and in stores on Thursday.

Instant Sale will also offer $200 to $450 for the most recent iPhone model, iPhone 4, that people have gotten through AT&T Inc., which has been the iPhone's only U.S. carrier since its launch in 2007. Although AT&T has charged $200 or $300 for the iPhone 4 with a two-year contract, it is actually a subsidized price. Phones actually cost a few hundred dollars more, but wireless carriers figure they can make that back from service fees over the life of the contract.

Fans of the iPhone have long awaited its release on Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier. Verizon said last week that it received record sales of the gadget when it briefly began offering pre-orders to current subscribers.

Instant Sale, which San Jose-based eBay rolled out as a pilot program in October, is one of a growing number of services that lets people trade in consumer electronics such as laptops, digital cameras and digital music players for money. Such programs may also offer to recycle electronics if they choose not to buy them _ something Instant Sale does.

Verizon has its own trade-in program that gives out Verizon Wireless gift cards for old phones. And consumer-electronics retailer Best Buy Co. just launched its Buy Back program. Shoppers will soon be able to pay a special fee when they buy a gadget; that will let them bring the item back and receive a percentage of the purchase price in the form of a Best Buy gift card. This percentage, naturally, will decline the longer you keep the gadget.

With Instant Sale, you first get a quote for your phone. If you're satisfied with the offered price _ which is actually coming from a third party that is buying the gadget, not from eBay itself _ you will get a free shipping label to use to send it in. Payments for the service are sent via PayPal, which is eBay's online payment service.

You can, of course, simply sell an old handset on eBay.com. From September to December, eBay users bought 27,283 iPhone 4 devices for an average of $667, eBay said, and 60,971 iPhone 3GS handsets for an average of $340. There were 65,146 3G iPhones sold for an average of $215.