The popular Phones 4U in the UK have been running a trial since last year for a new smartphone trade in model called JUMP. This stands for "Just upgrade my Phone" and will be allowing customers to do just that. Upgrade their phones in as little as 6 months instead of the usual 1 or 2-year upgrade paths we've seen in the past.
Their new double agreement system that splits device subsidy from service allows customers to sign a contract for their service, and then an additional agreement with the phone retailer themselves that will allow for early upgrades and various trade-in options. Here is a quote from Phones 4U themselves:
"Technology is moving fast and innovative handsets are launching all the time on the market but to date there’s been a disconnect between the frequency of smartphone releases and the length of mobile phone contracts on offer.
We want to give our customers the freedom to own the very latest smartphones like the iPhone 4S without having to wait 18-24 months for an upgrade. The idea for JUMP was born out of research we conducted that revealed people were frustrated by the inability to upgrade their handsets sooner."
In the UK most carriers lease the phones rather than let customers own them, but then they don't pay $199 or $599 outright prices like we do either. Now after the initial period users can choose to keep the device, or trade it and possible up to 3 devices in for a trade-in value that will go towards their new device. With the rapid rate of Android smartphones this type of program could really take off. Obviously new phones will still be more than a used device, but this would surely help.
There are many different angles and ways to take advantage of the new system so hit the link below for more details.