Years ago I think I used Apple's 'express replacement service', probably for a 3G. Apple sent me a refurb, I returned my phone and used the refurb.
Turns out, the express replacement service is still around. Request the express replacement option for an out of warrantee service and you can swap your defective old iPhone for a refurb (with a fresh battery). In our case we have an iPhone 4 with a balky home button and another with a balky power button -- both with bad batteries. Good devices, but not much resale value. An Apple Store service swap would be great if one could be arranged, but an express replacement service would be a lot more convenient.
According to Apple's web site there's a $29 service fee, a $7 shipping fee, and device specific fees:
- iPhone 4 or earlier: $150
- iPhone 4s: $199
- iPhone 5, 5c, 5s: $269
I don't know if the replacement phones are carrier locked, so there's a risk of sending in an unlocked phone and getting a carrier locked phone back.
An eBay iPhone 5 seems to cost $200-$300 and is probably much lower quality than an Apple refurb, so $187 is pretty competitive.