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iPhone users are already ditching the month-old iPhone 8

Krystal Hu

The long-awaited iPhone X may have some unexpected buyers—at the expense of the one-month-old iPhone 8.

Electronics recycling site Decluttr.com says it has received more trade-ins of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus than any other previous new iPhones. It appears that users lured by the new features of the coming iPhone X are trying to cash in on their iPhone 8 and 8 Plus while the value is still relatively high.

James Bell, digital marketing manager for Decluttr, told Yahoo Finance that he wasn’t expecting people to trade in their iPhone 8 at all, even after the iPhone X is officially released on Nov 3.

“We thought it would be just iPhone 7 [for trade-in], but it seems people aren’t necessarily satisfied with the iPhone 8. This just doesn’t happen. We never have that many iPhones within the month of the release.”

The site says 7% of thousands of the iPhones it bought in the past month were iPhone 8s, while in the same period last year the percentage of then-released iPhone 7 was only 1%. A 256GB iPhone 8 can be traded at up to $500, less than one-third of the retail price of $849. After October 27, the pre-order date of the iPhone X, the trade-in price is expected to drop by 30%.

Will iPhone 8 follow the fate of iPhone 5c?

The market reaction to the iPhone 8 has been a bit disappointing compared to previous releases. In China, where people usually go crazy for the new iPhone and are willing to pay for a huge markup for it, the iPhone 8 is already sold at discount.

At its major press event in September, Apple unveiled its 10th anniversary iPhone, the iPhone X, alongside the iPhone 8 and 8 plus. The iPhone 8 takes better photos than its predecessors but seems to be overshadowed by the $999 iPhone X. With the biggest starting price tag in iPhone history, the iPhone X features FaceID and a full-width phone screen without the traditional home button.

“Our customers found the iPhone 8 was very similar to 7, and they’re excited about the face recognition technology, especially when the iPhone X is almost envisioned as a limited edition product,” Bell said.

It’s not the first time that Apple chose to release two iPhones at the same time. In 2013, both iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were released in September, and data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners showed that the iPhone 5s outsold the iPhone 5c by more than double. A 16GB iPhone 5c was released for $99 with a two-year contract, $100 cheaper than iPhone 5s.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook attributed the iPhone 5c’s lackluster sales to people’s preference for the advanced iPhone 5s features like the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

“People are really intrigued with Touch ID,” Cook said on an earnings call in 2014. “It’s a major feature that has excited people. And I think that, associated with the other things that are unique to the 5S, got the 5S to have a significant amount more attention and a higher mix of sales.”

Now we’ve come to the Face ID this year. To analysts who predict a “supercycle” for the iPhone this year, they argue the disappointment in the iPhone 8 could be good news as it may suggest a boom in the more expensive iPhone X.

But unlike iPhone 5c, which was Apple’s attempt to enter the low end of the smartphone market, iPhone 8 is still a premium phone. And the shortage in supply of the iPhone X could hurt Apple’s profits in the next quarter.

Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang suggests that Apple may consider making fewer iPhone 8s. “We understand this does not reflect the iPhone 8 cycle as a whole since the iPhone X has not yet officially launched,” Zhang wrote in a note to clients, “but we are concerned.”

Krystal Hu covers tech companies in the global economy for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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