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swappa-ing things around

So Better Half and I are looking into possibly changing our cell phone service provider, as well as upgrading our phones.  The former is actually the easy part these days… the latter is a bit more complicated. 

Since we are looking at pre-paid plans, we generally cannot get subsidized phones, which leaves us with the “unlocked” phone market.  Amazon carries more than a few of those, of course, but you will end up paying something near list price, or at least probably above what you are willing to pay, cheaper pre-paid plans or not. 

Enter Swappa, at least for Android users.  They differentiate themselves from EBay and Craigslist in one fairly important way: 

All listings on Swappa meet the following criteria (according to the Seller):

  • All devices are fully functional
  • All devices have clean ESN/MEIDs (have not been reported lost or stolen) and are ready for activation
  • All devices are free of water damage and screen cracks

If you buy a device on Swappa with a bad ESN, cracked screen, or water damage then the seller has violated Swappa Terms of Use and acted fraudulently, giving you, the buyer, recourse.

The difference between Swappa and alternatives is that other services don’t have any rules against selling junk devices (Swappa does). And other services don’t necessarily require disclosure of damage or state of the ESN (if a seller doesn’t reveal that information, then it’s the buyer’s responsibility to ask).

A buyer on Swappa could still get cheated as they could on eBay or another service. The difference is that with Swappa the burden is on the seller to act fraudulently to do it, rather than the burden being on the buyer to make sure they ask all the right questions. And if a seller acts fraudulently the buyer legitimate recourse through the payment provider.

(Emphasis in the original.) 

I have no idea how well any of that would hold up in a dispute, but they seem to believe “quite well”, and just the deterrence factor alone is probably worth it.  Folks who do this kind of thing a lot seem to agree

The only catch is that its userbase is still somewhat limited, so if you are looking for something other than a mainstream phone, they might not carry it.  Of course, the only fix for this is to spread the word, and get other people to start using it – we plan on offloading our HTC Incredibles through Swappa once we figure out our future plans. 

And speaking of phones, what are people’s opinions regarding the Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Nexus, and LG Nexus 4 in its two sizes?  Those seem to be the phones we have narrowed our shopping down to.  Amusingly, we are “overpaying” for our Verizon service so much that it would almost be just as cheap to buy an Nexus 4 at their currently-inflated prices than wait the 6-8+ weeks for them to get back in-stock at their amazingly affordable prices.  Or, barring those four, does anyone have any other good Android suggestions? 

9 comments to swappa-ing things around

  • I just upgraded to an S3, and I really like it, though I’m not sure that I actually like it or if I just like the new version of android, as my old droid x hadn’t received a version update since 2.2 or so.

  • Heather

    All I can says is when/if you leave Verizon, be very very very careful with paperwork, and even if you are, be prepared for Games. I have absolutely no respect for that company after how they treated us when we dropped our service (contractually allowable) due to a cross country move.

  • Formynder

    I have the Galaxy S3 and I absolutely love it. And now that it has the latest update (Jelly Bean) it’s a little bit faster, especially with the camera. When I restart it, it manages to get back to the home screen in under 30 seconds. Part of what I enjoy is the wifi calling, which I believe is specific to T-mobile, where my router acts as a cell tower for calls and SMS. The antennas are nicely powerful, and have a pretty good range. The GPS is more accurate than my old Nexus One. In short, I highly recommend it.

  • Send me an email, I work for a cell provider and can see about getting you a deal on your service through a referral program we have.

  • J

    My girlfriend and I both had the Galaxy. She switched the to the SII and I to the LG Nitro HD… she is miserable with the SII. So, there’s an anecdote against the SII at least.

  • @ Heather: Well we are currently month-to-month customers, and have been for about a year now, so if they try anything stupid, I think my next phone call would be to the FCC. Shame you had trouble, though.

    @ Formynder: The one catch with going without a “big name” provider is that apparently we are on our own for OS updates; this is apparently fixed if we were to use the international model, but it has less RAM than the North American version.

    The wifi calling is interesting… we are looking at securing used TMobile S3s and unlocking them; I wonder if that functionality would stick around.

    @ Instinct: Just got the email from Sprint; looking into it now. Thanks!

    @ J: What did she dislike about the S2, if you do not mind my asking?

  • Well, like I said before, I’m happy with my Galaxy Nexus. If you get one, though, you probably want to make sure you get the 32GB version since there’s no SD card slot. The extended battery may be a good investment, too, depending on your usage. You’ll definitely want one of those gel/silicone “skins” to go with it – the phone is nicely constructed, but boy is it slick!

    The Nexus 4 also lacks an SD card slot, and only goes up to 16GB, plus there’s the issue with the battery being non-removable that I mentioned before. Both of those (but especially the battery) would make it a non-starter, for me.

    The S3, from all accounts, is a good phone, and probably better than even the GNex. It’s supposed to be easily rootable, and CyanogenMod has excellent support for it, plus there are lots of accessories available for it.

    The S2 is also, from all accounts, a decent phone, but it’s old enough now that I would go with one of the newer choices, instead.

    Summary: I’d go with either the GNex or the S3. I picked the GNex mainly for cost reasons, plus preferring the “pure” Android experience without having to flash a custom ROM (an idea which lasted less than a week before I put CM10 on it), but the S3 may actually be a better choice. Personally, I would avoid the Nexus 4, but YMMV.

  • @ Jake:
    The other thing to consider with the Nexus 4 is no 4G, if that matters to you.

  • @ Jake: I think we have basically decided on the S3, for basically the reasons you mention – the removable/replaceable battery and the upgradable memory. Now we just need to find an affordable pair and pull the trigger.

    @ bluesun: Straight Talk supports 4G on the T-Mobile SIM cards they use, but I am honestly not sure we care ;).



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