Apple's trade-in program meets lukewarm response in China

Apple is not generous in recycling its own products in China, as the US giant offers roughly half of the reclaiming prices offered by private shops, Chinese consumers have complained.

With the Cupertino-based technology giant extending its offer to those in China who wish to sell their used iPhones and iPads for an upgrade, Chinese consumers -- who buy the most Apple products outside the US -- find the compensation is just a tip of the retail price tag.

On Tuesday, Apple officially launched its recycling program across its 18 retail shops in China, allowing Chinese customers to trade in their old devices for credit to offset the cost of an upgrade on any of the company's products. However, the offered prices disappointed its fans, with Apple paying only 1,500 yuan ($240) for an iPhone 5s, 500 yuan ($80) for an iPhone 4S, and 250 yuan ($40) for an iPhone 4.

One woman in Shanghai was "stunned" to learn that her old iPhone 4 was only worth $40 credit toward Apple's products, according to a Sina news report. In China, the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, and iPhone 5s are officially priced at 6,088 yuan ($973), 5,288 yuan ($846) and 4,488 yuan ($718), respectively.

Apple is adopting a unified trade-in price for iPhones of the same generation in China, regardless of the memory size and condition of the handset; it still offers up to just $240 even if it is a "new" iPhone 5s, according to the report.

And the trade-in prices are just half of those offered by private recycling shops in China. The latest data shows that a used 16GB iPhone 4S is widely reclaimed at 1,100 yuan ($176), and the 16GB iPhone 5s at 2,900 yuan ($463), the report said.

Some consumers told the report that it sounds like Apple tends to "trade in the iPhone 5 for the cost of only five apples in China". It is a much better deal to sell their products to private shops, which also offer compensation in cash directly.

The trade-in program only covers devices purchased in the Greater China area, including the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, which manufactures various Apple products, including iPhones and iPads, will also take part in the program by repairing the devices and reselling these refurbished items on its e-commerce sites.

Apple didn't confirm the alignment with Foxconn. When asked the location of these reclaimed devices, an Apple Store staff member only told Sina news that the plan targets concerns of environmental protections.