Is your smartphone a good investment? If it’s an iPhone, yes

Credit: Priceonomics

Priceonomics, which keeps track of the resale value of items like cars, bikes and gadgets, published a report Wednesday that shows how the value of iPhones(s AAPL), Android(s GOOG) devices and BlackBerrys(s RIMM) hold up over time. Short answer: iPhones, even years-old models, retain their value the longest, which means iPhone owners can recoup the most money when they go to resell their phones.

Here’s the method they  used:

We measure depreciation by comparing a phone’s current used price to its new price (without a contract) the day it was released. We examined all iPhone models and the 70 most popular Androids and 30 most popular BlackBerry models. We split phones into five different cohorts (newly released, 1, 2, 3, and 4 year-old phones). We then calculated which phones had the best resale by cohort, as well as which platforms in aggregate tended to retain their value the most.

The highest quality phones should have the best resale values over time and crappier phones should depreciate the fastest. The evidence is clear – the winner is the iPhone.

After crunching the data they came up with a series of charts, like one that shows that after owning a smartphone for 18 months, iPhone owners can resell theirs for 53 percent of the original price, Android owners for 42 percent and BlackBerry owners for 41 percent of the original price.

That part won’t be news to people who make a habit of reselling their old iPhone before or right after buying a new one a new one. There are sites like, eBay (s EBAY) and that regularly buy used iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android phones in order to resell them. The iPhone is always the easiest to resell and will go for a decently high price if you time it right.

But all is not lost for penny-pinching Android owners. One caveat to the data that Priceonomics found is that less expensive Android phones sold by prepaid operators do hold their value much better than their pricier Google-powered brethren, probably because those phones are highly subsidized by the operators. Specifically, the Motorola Triumph, HTC Wildfire and Samsung Exhibit 4G on average keep up to 86 percent of the original value.

Be sure to check out the original post for more interesting data.