Apple set to launch smartphone trade-in scheme and discount new iPhone 5S?

With the unveiling of the newest versions of the iPhone just around the corner, Apple is reportedly preparing to launch its very own trade-in programme.

According to 9to5Mac, customers will be able to take an old iPhone – the iPhone 4, for example – to an Apple Store in exchange for a gift card, which can then be used to buy a newer model at a discounted price.

The report claims that Apple CEO Tim Cook is unhappy with the number of iPhone sales currently attributed to Apple Stores. Apparently, 80 per cent of iPhones are sold via third-party retailers.

At Apple's last earnings call, Cook said, "I like the environmental aspect of it," when quizzed about existing trade-in schemes.

9to5Mac reports that "sources" have said that the launch of such an initiative is scheduled for September, but nothing concrete has yet been confirmed.

If the alleged move does indeed come into fruition, it is likely that it will coincide with the release of the hotly-anticipated iPhone 5S and low-cost iPhone 5C, which are expected to surface on 10 September.

No doubt the emergence of a new Apple smartphone will spark a typical frenzy, with large numbers of consumers likely to abandon their current devices in droves.

Traditionally, Apple tends to set a product release date for around a week or two after a major launch event, as it did with the iPhone 5 last year.

It is probable that Apple will refurbish the old handsets it collects from the trade-in scheme, before reselling them in emerging markets.