US wireless carriers are starting to model the European idea of selling no-contract, unsubsidized smartphones and consumers are finally realizing the actual price of their phone separately from their wireless service contract.
There are ways to buy your own device at a price less than the carrier store and I just recently discovered a website that ended up helping me find two rare gems.
I have been ripped off for hundreds of dollars on eBay and live in a saturated market for mobile devices so I don't use Craigslist very often. Review devices arrive for 30 days at a time and I usually end up buying smartphones I really like to use for longer periods of time.
While I liked the Sony Xperia Z2, the glass back worried me a bit and I didn't find the camera to be as good as the Lumia and Galaxy S5 models. Thus, I started looking for a place to sell it and stumbled upon Swappa, which is actually the storefront for the excellent XDA Developers community I have been a part of for years.
Since I saw that prices were dropping quickly on the Z2 and I was ready to accept a loss, I sold it for just $610 (I paid $850 just a month ago). Since the buyer was also new to Swappa I was a bit nervous about sending along the Z2 after receiving payment, even though payment was via PayPal and had some protection.
The buyer kindly gave me his phone number and we chatted a bit so that I was comfortable sending it along. Everything worked out just fine and we both left positive feedback for each other. He was very impressed with how new the device felt and anyone who has purchased my devices knows I baby them so they remain like new for a long time.
As I previously wrote, my wife loved the Samsung Galaxy S5 so I bought her one for Mother's Day. The camera is quite impressive and I actually like the light feel of the S5 in hand. As I was browsing around Swappa, I discovered a brand new, sealed T-Mobile gold Galaxy S5 up for sale for only $510. The white one I bought my wife retails for $660, plus $60 in tax, so this was a savings of $200+.
This deal seemed too good to be true and I was really apprehensive about this ad. After communicating with the seller and making the payment, the device arrived and T-Mobile verified it was a clean IMEI (Swappa does this too). The gold color looks nothing at all like a Band-Aid and is actually quite an attractive device with gold around the edges and the front. I personally like the gold and am very pleased to be using a Galaxy S5 myself.
Swappa is trouble for a smartphone fan like myself and I found another rather rare phone that I just could not pass up. I was clearly disappointed with AT&T's version of the Nokia Lumia 1520, but I discovered there is an overseas model that comes with Qi charging integration, 32GB of ROM (with the microSD card too), and support for T-Mobile USA's HSPA+ and LTE bands.
The Nokia Lumia 1520.3 was slightly used and available in white for $525. It arrived yesterday and is in even better condition than the seller led me to believe. The Lumia 1520.3 is a large device, but it really is the ultimate Nokia Lumia and I am enjoying using it so far.
Swappa used to be focused only on Android devices — remember the XDA Developers relationship — but there are now iPhones, Windows Phones, and BlackBerry devices available too. The Swappa staff checks IMEIs, has strict posting guidelines, and really keeps an eye on the postings. They are extremely responsive and helpful as well.
It is free to sell on Swappa and buyers pay a $10 sale fee. Sellers do have to pay for PayPal fees, 2.9 percent plus 30 cents for most sellers. Swappa doesn't allow broken and junk devices so you can trust they do their best to keep quality devices up for sale on their site.
If you are looking for some great devices at reasonable prices, then I highly recommend you check out Swappa. I found a brand new S5 at a rock bottom price and a rare Nokia Lumia in just a couple of days. You can also keep an eye out for more of my own devices when I move onto something else and decide to sell them.
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