An Apple staff member demonstrates a new Verizon iPhone 4 at Verizon's iPhone 4 launch event in New York, in this file picture taken January 11, 2011. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

Apple has confirmed that it’s launching a trade-in program for iPhones after much speculation about its plans for the reselling market over the past several months.

The program allows for users to bring in their older phones and get credit toward a newer model. Previous iPhone recycling programs had let users turn in older gadgets for a gift card at Apple’s stores.

Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette confirmed that the company is rolling out its program Friday.

In a statement, Bessette said: “iPhones hold great value. So, Apple Retail Stores are launching a new program to assist customers who wish to bring in their previous-generation iPhone for reuse or recycling. In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone.”

CNBC was the first to report that the company had confirmed plans to step into the space itself, following up earlier reporting by Bloomberg in June that the program was on its way. In the firm’s latest earnings call, chief executive Tim Cook had said that he was attracted by the environmental benefits this kind of program could have.

According to the CNBC report, those interested in bringing in their older iPhones for credit toward a newer model must walk out of the store with a new contract, thus making it a little less flexible than the previous program. However, the report says that users can get a hefty price for their older phones — including enough to cover the price of a new device.

With its new program, Apple steps into a crowded field of competing programs offered by companies such as Gazelle, Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon and others, all of whom accept older iPhones for money. The broader market for used smartphones has been estimated to bring in as much as $5 billion in sales by 2015. With Apple participating as well, more smartphone users may opt for the trade-in option, and could potentially send that estimate even higher.

Running its own program would give Apple a way to drive more iPhone sales within its own stores rather than seeing sales from carrier partners, and drive more traffic through its retail stores as well.

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