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These days, all of us are pretty attached to our phones, right? And to be fair, smartphones make life a lot easier. I can check my mail, see what the weather is going to be tomorrow, pull up tickets for the game tonight, and even pay for my groceries at Trader Joe’s. These mini computers we carry around sure have made life a lot easier.
As for the negative sides of them, well, I’m not going to get into that here. Trust me, I know all about trying not to get too involved in my phone – Sarah and I are always on each other to “be in the moment” and all sorts of other cliches that we can apply to phones.
The problem with smartphones is that they are, like I mentioned, basically computers. And that means they come with computer-lite pricing. Heck, Apple’s iPhone X debuted at almost $1,000! That’s crazy talk.
And personally, I’m not that into all this and that they are going on about for the latest models – full display screens, glass front and back, camera upgrades – it’s all just noise to me. I mean, I probably couldn’t tell you the difference in picture quality from something taken with the iPhone 4 compared to the iPhone 8. And at the end of the day, they all run the same operating system, so everyone basically has the same phone.
That was a bit of a tangent, and I should probably scrub all of it from this post, but I enjoyed writing it, so I’m leaving it in. What I set out to write about in this post was how to get these expensive little things for a lot cheaper than their face value, so let’s get to that. But first, some background.
When the iPhone first came out (and I’ll probably just use it as my reference point throughout this article since it came first, Android lovers can take a chill pill), carriers like AT&T and Verizon subsidized the cost of the phone. That is to say, the phone actually cost $500, but if you signed a 2-year contract, you would only have to pay $99 up front. Your carrier would go and give Apple their $500, and then basically make that money back over the length of the two years. And you couldn’t go anywhere or do anything about that contract without paying some crazy cancellation cost.
Nowadays, the contract model has fallen by the wayside (thankfully) and many people have switched to plans that have no locked-in contract. This is good because you have flexibility and choice when your carrier starts to tick you off and jack prices, and bad because now the sticker shock of that $500 phone slaps you across the face right from the get-go.
So, now that I’ve covered all of that background that may or may not have been necessary, I’ll move on to the meat of this post: how to get a cheap iPhone (or iPhone equivalent). This will help you shop around for the best plan that meets your needs, and then allow you to go and buy (or sell!) an iPhone on the cheap.
There are plenty of websites out there that facilitate the buying and selling of devices, but I’m going to zoom in on my favorite. The site that I use to buy and sell iPhones is called Swappa, and it’s kind of the bomb. In the 3 to 4 years that I’ve been using Swappa, I’ve purchased 7 smartphones and sold 1 (I’m kind of my family’s go-to when it comes to getting a new phone). They all went off without a hitch (minus 1) and I’ve had a great experience with it. I’m going to run through some tips that I’ve picked up from over the years of using Swappa, and then head over to check it out for yourself!
- Check out both the carrier you are looking to go with and the unlocked sections – prices can be a little different in each section. Before you buy an unlocked phone though, make sure you read this to make sure you are getting the right kind!
- Sign up for email alerts (located under the device you select). Sure, this will be annoying for a day or two, but the best deals go quickly. My rule of thumb is to never buy a device that is currently listed there but to use them to get an idea of good pricing and then to be ready to snap up a new phone when it is posted.
- Check out the “Recently Sold” section at the bottom of each specific phone type you select. I always spend a couple minutes browsing this section to help improve my price knowledge and see if there are any great deals I juuuust missed. Chances are, a similar deal will pop up in the next couple days and I can jump on it.
- Avoid buying from “companies”. You can always tell this click on a phone and seeing how many sales they have made, and often by the name. I tend to avoid these sellers because who knows where they got that phone from, and how the person treated it. This leads right into tip #5…
- Buy single owner devices. This isn’t a MUST, but I almost exclusively buy from single owners who indicate they are upgrading, and the device was kept in an Otterbox, etc. This might result in me paying a bit more, but chances are the phone will have had fewer encounters with water damage, dropping and anything else.
Personally, I usually look for “Good” condition or “Mint” condition – it’s not a must, but again, phones get a lot of wear and tear and ideally it will last for a long time.
A great thing about Swappa is that they use PayPal for all of their payments, which mean you are protected from buying any junk. The one time I bought a phone and it was never sent, I notified Swappa who immediately canceled the sale and got my money back to me. It was simple and easy. They have a checklist Swappa gives you to run through when you actually get your new phone to ensure everything is in working order, though I would recommend going through a more stringent one here.
On a final note, it’s a great time to buy a used iPhone right now. The biggest issue with buying used is depreciated battery life, but until the end of 2018 Apple is offering battery replacements for $29 on most of their phone models (usually $99). If you buy a used phone or have had one for a couple years, make sure you head into Apple in November or December to get that battery updated before the promotional price runs out. Studies have shown that battery replacement, while it won’t get you the updated specs of a new phone, makes your device’s performance practically brand new.
The Simple Summary
That’s all she wrote for today, folks! I hope that was informative and beneficial. One of these weeks I’ll do a post on finding the right carrier for you (Sarah and I pay around $45 for unlimited talk, text, and data!). Until then, happy phone shopping on Swappa!