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?