A few weeks ago my boss told me that we were going to be switching cell phone carriers so that we could save a little money on our corporate plan. “Great”, I thought with an inward sigh. “More work for the IT department in this already-busy season.” This switch would include me, too, since I have a company phone.
Personally, I have been perfectly happy with my Samsung GS3, a very nice smartphone circa mid-2012. It was the premier phone to have last year, and it was still working great for what I needed. I don’t play many games on my phone like I did a few years ago (when Angry Birds was such a novel concept), and I don’t watch very many movies with it. Heck, I don’t watch many movies at all.
However, I do watch a good many sports highlight videos, and I enjoy reading some Kindle books on it when I have time. But those are pretty tame tasks for a phone to do, compared to games and movies and texting 100 times a day, like the kids are doing these days.
So the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t really need all the functionality of the latest and greatest superphone on the market. I just need a reliable, smooth smartphone with good email and fast data. And with the high value of used cell phones out there, I felt sure I could make this phone upgrade deal work out to my advantage.
The Latest And Greatest Has A Steep Price
If you walk into a Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, or Sprint store you’ll see a lot of phones at very low prices. Free, $50, $100, $200.
Now, depending on your perspective those prices might not seem that low, but trust me, they are. Smartphones run around $600 new!
The sticker price in the store is only as low as it is because you’re about to spend $90/month (or more) for 2 years on a smartphone plan– the wireless companies are sure to get their money back and then some for floating you what basically amounts to a loan so that you can go ahead and get that fancy phone.
For instance, take the new Apple iPhone 5c that was just announced last week. The wireless carriers would like you to believe that this “cheaper” sibling to the iPhone 5s is only $99. But if you check out the Apple website you’ll see that the full price of that phone is $549, if you don’t sign a 2-year agreement with a carrier. And the full price of the phone will be paid for one way or another, there’s no doubt about that.
How My Deal Was Done
Since I had purchased my Samsung Galaxy S3 last year, I was free to keep it once we terminated our company contract with TMobile. Checking out the prices on eBay, I knew I could probably get more than $300 for it. Sure enough, I sold it for $335 (minus fees).
On the Verizon side, I had the opportunity to get “new phone” pricing on whatever phone I wanted. My company is footing the bill for the service, whether I buy subsidized phones or not! I chose the recently-released HTC One, not because I wanted to keep it, but because the price disparity from Verizon to eBay was so great. I bought the phone for $200, then sold it online for $510 (minus fees).
For myself, I ordered a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, another superphone from 2012 that has come down steeply in price. I picked it up in mint condition from eBay for $135.
$335 – $135 = $200
$510 – $200 = $310
If you subtract shipping costs and fees from those numbers, it’s closer to a net of $400 going into my pocket. All for a little bit of phone swapping on eBay! Gaming the system for fun and profit.
Have you ever “gamed the system” like this, or done something similar? Would you swallow your gadget pride and use older gadgets if it meant earning money?