Looking for the Best Site For Second Hand Phones? Over the last few years, the cost of smartphones has skyrocketed. It’s no longer uncommon to see phones being sold for $1,000 or more, making the decision to buy a new handset quite the investment. Thanks to the ever-growing used smartphone market, though, it’s rather easy to take the sting out of those increasing prices.
The used marketplace is a great way to save some cash on your next phone purchase, and if you have old devices lying around that you aren’t using anymore, selling them allows someone else to use it while simultaneously putting extra money in your pocket.Shop devices on Swappa
Things to consider before you buy a used phone
We’ve already talked about the principles of selling your phone, and you can keep all of those in mind as you go to buy a used phone. Go through the same sort of checklist — factory reset, SIM unlock status, original accessories, damage, sales history — to decide if the phone you’re buying has been given the care you would have given your own phone to sell. There’s a loose thought process to go through:
The first is what kind of used phone you’re looking to buy:
- A used phone purchased directly from an owner (eg. Swappa, Craigslist, eBay)
- A refurbished phone that has been through a “touch-up” directly from the manufacturer or a partner (eg. Verizon, Samsung, Amazon, Gazelle, Best Buy)
Know what kind of used phone buying experience you want before you start shopping around.
You can probably get the best deal buying directly from someone else because there is no intermediary taking a fee, but you also run the risk of the phone having issues that the naked eye can’t see. If you know exactly what you want and know what to look for, you’re probably going to be comfortable buying a used phone from a direct marketplace like Craiglist, Swappa, eBay or one of many buy/sell forums.
If you don’t want to take any chances with the quality, but still don’t mind a bit of wear and tear, buying through an intermediary marketplace like Gazelle could work really well. The phones often come with (admittedly limited) warranties and money-back guarantees which, as a buyer, offers considerably more peace of mind than the average “meet up at the nearby 7-Eleven and hand over a wad of cash” type deal.
Finally, buying a certified refurbished phone is your safest bet, but comes with the least discount over a new product. Carriers, retailers and third parties all refurbish and sell used devices, with varying levels of discount and inventory options. These phones are used, yes, but they’ve gone through a (varying) set of checks to verify their condition and details before being cleaned up and passed on to you. There’s a peace of mind associated with buying refurbished, but there’s also a cost associated.
Along with all of that, there’s something else to consider — your health.
Given the current pandemic, buying a phone that’s been used by someone else might be something you’re thinking twice about. Seeing as how germs and viruses can stick on devices if not properly cleaned/sanitized, it’s normal to have some apprehension about used phones right now.
While that concern is perfectly validated, we want to reassure you that the possibility of contracting a virus from a used phone is pretty minimal. That said, there are some precautions we recommend taking if you want to minimize any chances of that potentially happening.
best site for second hand phones
This is not an exhaustive list. There are innumerable places to buy a used phone on the internet, and depending on your country, this list may not be as applicable (though we tried to highlight international marketplaces as much as possible).
Gazelle uses an interesting model: it buys phones from sellers and resells some of them on its website just like a regular e-commerce store (the rest are either recycled or sold to third parties). The advantage is that once Gazelle receives the device it performs a so-called “30-point inspection process” to ensure that it is in working order, and puts a SIM card in it to make sure it can properly connect to a network.
As a buyer, that means you may pay slightly more than Swappa for the equivalent model, but you get a phone that is guaranteed to work, either unlocked on a number of carriers or the one that it is advertised to be locked to, and there is a 30-day return policy if you’re not completely satisfied.
Gazelle also offers financing options, which allows it to compete with carriers by offering flexible payment plans that don’t require a lot of money up front. At the same time, Gazelle doesn’t accept every type of Android phone, but it’s willing to take in most popular models that are within a few years old.
Good: Seamless buying experience with plenty of choice, all phones come with a charger and are guaranteed to work, 30-day money back return policy.
Bad: Doesn’t sell every type of phone, and can be more expensive than person-to-person marketplaces.
Learn more at Gazelle
Craigslist relies on in-person meetings for a cash transaction, which can be hit-or-miss depending on how adept you are at identifying scams — of which there are many.
The main thing Craigslist has going for it is size and scale — it’s practically everywhere, and has communities for almost every city in the world. You will be able to find a used phone on Craigslist, that’s not the problem; the problem is sifting through the thousands of listings to find something worth pursuing and ensuring that the phone you decide on does not have underlying damage or, worse, that its IMEI (a unique number that helps identify individual devices) hasn’t been blocked due to theft.
Good: Good prices, excellent availability, and plenty of choice, with the option of buying local to check condition.
Bad: Hard to verify sellers or the quality of the phones.
Learn more at Craigslist
eBay is enormous, and today continues to be one of the top places to purchase a used phone. It has the advantages of Craigslist, scale, with few of the disadvantages, especially since it uses PayPal to ensure that payments can be recalled should there be a problem.
For buyers, eBay has a robust filtering system, allowing you to search for exactly what you want, with filters for price, carrier — even color. Of course, eBay still has its roots as an auction house, and that is how some used phones are still sold, but far more of them are sold at set prices. eBay charges sellers, not buyers, to host their listings, so all you need to do is find the right listing and you’re off to the races.
eBay’s best feature is its Money Back Guarantee which, combined with the extensive seller profiles, make it easy to buy with confidence. If there’s an issue with the device, or the shipment, you can apply to get your money back and, within reason, eBay will either cancel the PayPal transaction or, if it’s already gone through, refund you. And seller profiles let you filter potential purchases based on trusted sellers that have been around the block once, ten, or ten thousand times.
Good: Lots of selection with verifiable sellers with a money-back guarantee and buyer protection.
Bad: Potentially high cost of shipping, and you won’t be able to see the device before buying.
Learn more at eBay
Swappa began its life as a small Android-based phone buying and selling community, but it’s since expanded to include all mobile devices like iPhones, as well as tablets, Chromebooks and MacBooks.
Swappa works on a set fee structure that’s very different to most other platforms, and this is important: the buyer pays the fee. Most will pay under $20 for the privilege though, which isn’t bad at all, and all payments are done over PayPal, which is incredibly convenient and secure. Why is a buyer fee better for both buyers and sellers? Because it encourages sellers to list their products on Swappa, adding inventory to a service that relies heavily on participation.
Swappa does not physically inspect devices, but it does do a few things to make sure the buyer is getting what he or she pays for: all listings are verified by a human, who ensures that the IMEI is valid and can be activated. All listings must have good quality photos that clearly show any damage, and the quality (fair/good/excellent) should match the photos. And the cost of shipping is included in the price of the listing, which should prevent post-sale price gouging. And because Swappa uses PayPal, all listings are protected, so if a device doesn’t arrive as advertised, buyers have recourse to get their money back.
Finally, Swappa’s prices tend to be lower than many curated services, and because Swappa lists the sale history of phones of the same type you’re likely to get a fair price for the phone in the current market.
Good: Plenty of listings with clear quality guidelines and good prices.
Bad: Buyer pays fee, and there’s no warranty or guaranteed accessories.
Learn more at Swappa
Glyde has an interesting business model, somewhere between Swappa and Gazelle. Like Swappa, it’s a user-to-user e-commerce portal but, like Gazelle, it asserts some control over the potential exchange by forcing the seller to use its secure shipping container, and doesn’t release payment to the seller until the buyer receives it. It also promises to refund a disappointed buyer within 72-hours.
Buyers pay no additional fee beyond what is shown on the site, but the inventory is limited to just iPhones and the last few generations of Samsung Galaxy phones.
Good: Lots of choice and buyers have leverage if unhappy with a sale.
Bad: Selection limited to iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Phones are not inspected beforehand so what you see may not be what you get.
Learn more at Glyde
UpTrade is another good choice if you want to keep the process of buying or selling a used phone as simple as can be. If you’re a buyer, just search the phone you’re looking for and UpTrade will show what it has in stock. Every listing includes hands-on pictures of the exact phone being sold, including the UpTrade employee that inspected it and any inspection notes they made. All phones sold on UpTrade are “UpTrade Certified,” meaning they go through a 50+ point inspection check and are sanatized by UpTrade before being shipped to you.
If you have a phone to sell, UpTrade makes things just as streamlined. Indicate the model you’re selling, its configuration, and what kind of condition it’s in. UpTrade gives you a quote for how much you’ll get, and you can then get the full amount in 14 days after the inspection or in 1-2 days after inspection at the cost of a 10% reduction in your payment. You need to provide your own box for shipping the phone to UpTrade, but you get a free shipping label. If you send the phone to UpTrade but change your mind, they’ll send it back at no extra cost.
Good: Very streamlined, easy-to-use website for both buyers and sellers.
Bad: Can take a while to get paid. Have to supply your own shipping box.
How to choose a smartphone by brand, carrier, or features
Choosing a smartphone for yourself or a loved one is no easy task. Smartphones are generally high-ticket but critically needed items, and there are ways to narrow down your choices so that you spend your money wisely for the most important features for you. Hundreds of available options can make your selection process overwhelming, especially if you’re not clear on your priorities. We can help you narrow down your choices by analyzing all considerations you need to confidently choose the best phone. Below are the major questions you need to answer.
What’s your price range?
First, determine how much you’re willing to spend and how you want to spend it. If you’re an Apple customer, you already know that iPhones tend to be more costly than Android phones. However, a cheaper iPhone SE (2020) for around $400 may be the ideal budget phone for the iOS platform. Samsung is another relatively high-priced brand with models across the price range. On the lower end of the price scale, you’ll find brands like Nokia, Honor, and Motorola. You can save upfront costs with phones that are subsidized via a carrier that you can pay for in monthly installments over a year or two. While these financial arrangements won’t save money in the long run, they will make a more expensive phone with more features more affordable. Have a look at our roundup of the best cheap phones to get an idea of what’s out there. If you’re really on a tight budget, you can still buy a smartphone for $100 or less.
What features do you need?
Start by drafting a list of the most critical features you need your smartphone to have. Use the list to compare devices. Ask yourself: Do you need a phone with a large screen? Do you prefer one that you can use one-handed? Are you looking for extended battery life or the best camera phone available? Do you need a lot of storage for your music or photo collection? Maybe you’re a frequent traveler and need a dual-SIM phone. Is 5G going to be part of the landscape in your area?
Which operating system do you prefer?
There are only two smartphone operating systems worth considering: Android and iOS. Both are easy to use and support a wide variety of apps and games. While you can change from Android to iOS, or from iPhone to Android, there are learning curves in both directions. For familiarity, try to stick to whatever platform you’re used to — unless you really don’t like it and want to switch.
Android offers a wider choice of devices at different prices, more customization options, and Google’s excellent suite of services and apps built-in. If you already use Google Maps, Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Assistant, then Android may be the better choice for you, though you can download iOS versions of all of those tools from the App Store.
Apple’s iOS offers a more uniform, accessible experience, and operations are more secure alongside proprietary features like Siri, fingerprint scanning, FaceTime, and iCloud. The App Store and app quality are slightly better than Android due to Apple’s oversight of the app process. If you already have a MacBook or an iPad, an iPhone is probably going to make the most sense for you. You’ll also find an enormous choice of accessories for iPhones, something that can be limited for lesser-known Android devices.
For a more in-depth breakdown of the top two smartphone platforms, check out our guide to Android vs. iOS, where we compare them in various categories.
What are the most important specs?
Listen critically to the salesperson at the store and then shop around to get hands-on experiences with different smartphones before buying one. If you don’t know much about specs, bring along a knowledgeable friend or family member. With more people shopping at home, you can still use chat apps and check forums and reviews for advice. Here are a few things to think about:
- Design: If you want something you can use one-handed, try to pick it up and try it out. A lot of phones these days have glass on the front and back, which makes them fragile and prone to smudges. Check that the fingerprint sensor position suits you as well — on many phones, the sensor is on the back rather than the front. The right design for you should look and feel good.
- Screen: You’re going to spend many hours gazing at the screen, so make sure it’s a good size for you and that it has a high resolution. We recommend a minimum of full HD, which is 1920 x 1080 pixels, or perhaps 2160 x 1080 pixels if the phone has a modern 18:9 aspect ratio. Anything that’s 1080p or higher will be sharp enough. In terms of the underlying technology, OLED screens have better contrast, with deeper blacks than LCD screens, and we prefer them overall. Some of Samsung’s Galaxy range and Apple’s iPhones feature AMOLED screens, but they can be pricey.
- Performance: This will be determined by two main things: The processor and the RAM. The processor is the more important consideration, and newer is generally better in terms of both speed and power efficiency. Apple’s A-series chipset tends to outperform the competition. For an Android phone, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus is the current cream of the crop. It’s debatable how much RAM you need in a smartphone, but we recommend looking for at least 4GB, at least for Android models. This doesn’t apply to iPhones, however, because they handle memory management differently and don’t require as much RAM. If in doubt, read reviews or play with your prospective smartphone in a store to test it.
- Operating system: If you buy a new iPhone, then you’ll get the latest version of iOS, but this isn’t always the case with Android phones. Because the manufacturers often apply their own user interfaces on top of Android, it can take a while to get the latest updates. You may not get future versions of Android upon their releases, or even at all if the manufacturer decides not to update. Only stock Android phones from Google, such as the Pixel 5, are guaranteed to get immediate and consistent Android updates. The current version to look for is Android 11. Always try to get the latest version you can.
- Camera: Smartphone cameras have greatly improved over the last few years. The choice can be bewildering, but note that good camera performance is about a lot more than just a high megapixel count. If you’re able to test the phone out for yourself, you certainly should, but you’ll also find useful information in reviews. We do numerous camera shootouts here at Digital Trends.
- Bloatware: Be aware of bloatware or hobbled features, especially with Android. Sometimes carriers block specific features or change defaults. Carriers and manufacturers often add a lot of superfluous apps, and you may not be able to uninstall them.
- Battery life: Removable batteries are rare these days, so you want a phone that can keep up with you. Check the consensus on battery life in reviews. The mAh rating will give you some indication, but the capacity is also impacted by the screen size, resolution, and software, so you need to look beyond the number.
- Storage: The latest smartphones generally come with enough storage built-in. When 16GB phones were common, which already had used up 10GB out of the box, you could run out of space alarmingly fast. A minimum of 32GB is good, but 64GB is better. Much depends on how you use your phone. You’ll obviously need more space if you like to load your music or photo collection. Having a MicroSD card slot allows you to expand your storage space relatively cheaply. However, Apple never includes MicroSD card slots, so this is something you’ll find only in some Android devices.
- Durability: If you buy a predominantly glass phone, and you’ve got butterfingers, make sure to buy a protective case. You should also get a phone with some water-resistance. The top flagships tend to have IP67 or IP68 ratings nowadays, which means they can be submerged in water without damage. Many budget phones also come with some water-resistance.
Choose a wireless carrier
It’s important to choose a carrier that offers good coverage in your area so you’ll have a strong signal. We recommend doing a little research at Open Signal, where you’ll find comprehensive coverage maps for different areas and carriers. Simply enter your location and pick a carrier to see what the coverage is like where you live and work. If you want to be able to do data-intensive things without Wi-Fi — like stream video or play multiplayer games — make sure that 4G coverage is good in your area. Newer phones, like the iPhone 12 range, are now also incorporating 5G, but that protocol is still in the early stages in most places, so it’s likely not a huge priority as yet. If you intend to hold on to your phone for several years, however, 5G will become a factor in your buying decision.
The main network choices are Verizon, AT&T, and the recently merged T-Mobile/Sprint, but there are other carriers, too, such as MetroPCS, Boost, Cricket, and Virgin, that may be worth considering. If you plan to buy your smartphone from your carrier along with your service, make sure that they offer the phone you want. We recommend buying an unlocked phone when possible because it will work out to be cheaper in the long run and give you the freedom to change carriers in the future.
Pick a service plan
There are hundreds of different cell phone service plans on the market today, and market competition can mean lower prices for consumers. However, you’ll need to shop around a bit to find the best deal. These days, choosing the best and cheapest plan is easier than ever. We’ve done some of the legwork for you already by looking for the best family plans, best unlimited data plans, and best cheap phone plans.
If you aren’t ready to jump plans right now but still want to save some cash on your monthly bill, you can always try to negotiate a better deal with your carrier. Check out offers from competing providers. If you find one with a lower price, it could be worth the call to your current provider. Ask to speak with the customer retention department because they have the authority and time to work with you, apply discounts, and share incentives to keep you with the company.
Service providers will try to sell you the most expensive plan they can manage most of the time. Do your due diligence and consider the features you actually need before talking to your carrier. If you have a reliable Wi-Fi setup at home and work, you may not need unlimited data plans. Data is where you’ll be able to negotiate the bulk of your savings because domestic texts and calls are pretty cheap