Got an original iPhone? It could be worth a small fortune

Steve Jobs original iPhone launch
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you think of collector's items and valuable treasures that fetch a small fortune at auction, smartphones don't normally come to mind. Antique furniture, first-edition comics or baseball cards, signed memorabilia, these are the sorts of things we normally associate with fetching hugely inflated prices when the gavel eventually drops.

It turns out that priceless antiques don't have to be particularly, well, antique. As a recent auction in America has just demonstrated, tech from just over 15 years ago could land you a small fortune if it's in the right condition. A first edition, unopened 4GB iPhone sold for a whopping $190,372.80 (around £145,000), a colossal sum for what many still consider to be a contemporary piece of technology. 

Now might be the time to get digging through your draws in an excited frenzy, although be warned, you're unlikely to get much for an old iPhone 4 with a smashed screen and a frayed old 30-pin charger. The phone which fetched such a hefty sum was the specific 4GB model which, in addition to coming in its original box, saw its value inflated thanks to the model's rare status as a collectable item. 

The website of the auctioneers, LCG Auctions, listed the phone as being "exceedingly rare, factory sealed, first-release 4GB model in exceptional condition. Virtually flawless along the surface and edges, the factory seal is clean with correct seam details and tightness". 

The phone at the time originally retailed for around $599, but with a starting bid of $10,000, the rare model soon attracted nearly 30 bids to sell for that colossal $190,372 figure.

Don't fret, as it isn't just this 4GB first-edition that has sold for a large fee. LCG also lists an unboxed 8GB 2007 iPhone as selling for just over $50,000, while another factory-sealed 16GB model fetched a little under $14,000. Not bad for one of your tatty old mobiles.    

Although relatively new in collectible terms, items from Apple, especially those associated with the Steve Jobs era, tend to fetch serious cash when sold at auction. As CNN reported, a buyer recently spent more than $200,000 on Jobs' old Birkenstock sandals when selling through Julien's Auctions. 

While we're not suggesting you're likely to have any of the Apple co-founder's footwear lying around in a dusty cupboard, it's always worth seeing if you've got any rare old tech items knocking around. You never know, you could be sitting on a goldmine. 


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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.