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Apple to begin iPhone trade-ins this month: report

Visitors try the iPhone at an Apple Store in Beijing March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Visitors try the iPhone at an Apple Store in Beijing March 28, 2013.© Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

Apple will start a program this month to allow users to trade their older iPhones for the newest model, Bloomberg cited people familiar with the plan as saying, a first for the company as it prepares to introduce a new version of the smartphone.

It has teamed up with Brightstar, a mobile phone distributor that runs similar trade-in programs for carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, to handle exchanges, Bloomberg cited the unidentified sources as saying on Thursday.

Apple and Brightstar did not immediately return calls for comment.

New iPhones with no wireless contract are priced starting at $649, depending on storage size. Demand is typically strong but investors worry that, as the U.S. market becomes increasingly saturated, smartphone purchases will slow sharply.

A trade-in program can help bolster demand for expensive new models, especially as arch-rival Samsung steps up an aggressive push to sell its own devices in the U.S. market.

Israel Ganot, CEO of Gazelle a major iPhone trade-in site, said in a statement to NBC News it "appears that Apple will focus on in-store trade-ins at the time of a new purchase." Gazelle, he said, "offers cash payment versus just store credit."

Still, he added, "We applaud the move because Apple's participation will likely accelerate consumer adoption of device trade-ins."

NBC News contributed to this report.