August 21, 2014

Swappa: a great place for buying and selling Android devices

swappalogo

If you need to sell your used Android handset, or you’re in the market to buy a new device but you’re against paying the carrier prices, Swappa is your knight in shining armor.

The reason they’re here, and why they’re better than Ebay, Craigslist or the like, is that all listings on Swappa meet the following criteria (according to the seller):

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

There’s no bidding, and a device isn’t considered “sold” until the buyer actually pays.

A lot of these phones are rooted, with custom ROMs installed, and “every device sold on Swappa that has CyanogenMod installed results in a $5 donation to the developers of CyanogenMod.” This is a great way to give back to the development community, and I commend Swappa for this policy. As if that wasn’t enough, Swappa has promised that “if you are a Reddit user and you buy or sell a device on Swappa we will buy you a month of Reddit Gold to show our appreciation.”

Upon entering the Swappa site, from top to bottom, you have the site header and your information (if you’re logged in), and some quick links (how to buy, how to sell, top devices, all, and more) situated next to a search box, for those who know what they’re looking for. Beneath that you’ll notice that whichever Android device has the most listings at that moment will make a headline appearance. They’ve conveniently categorized the devices, first by carrier, then by type (unlocked, tablet, 4G, keyboard and all devices) beneath which they have a yearbook-style listing of the 16 top stocked phones.

After choosing a phone, you’ll come to a page that lists each individual sale for that phone, with convenient icon tags that tell you something about the phone or it’s accessories.

Inside each listing is a more in-depth description of the specific handset being sold and what, if anything, you’ll receive with the device, along with public comments, where you can ask the seller questions (although they’re more often used for haggling).

After purchasing a device you are presented with a screen similar to the sale listing, where you’ll confirm your shipping address and have the option to communicate privately, comment-style with the seller. The Swappa staff might even drop in and say thanks while you’re there!

The person from whom I bought my phone was kind enough to share his opinions on what it’s like selling a device through Swappa.com

From the seller’s point of view, Swappa couldn’t be easier to use. Creating a listing took me about ten minutes from start to finish. Swappa maintains a database of just about every Android device out there, so there’s no reason to hunt for system specs or photos. You simply choose your device, and Swappa provides a stock photo and specifications.

That’s not to say that you can’t customize your listing. Sellers can also attach their own photos of their device if necessary, and because the site was designed for casual Android users and enthusiasts alike, there is plenty of room to post every detail about the device. There are the typical fields for description, condition and included accessories, but sellers can also check boxes that tell a potential buyer what version of the OS the phone is running, whether it’s rooted or if it has an unlocked bootloader. There’s even a field for custom ROMs. Interestingly, CyanogenMod even gets its own dedicated checkbox.

After choosing shipping, return and payment options, one click and the listing is live. Sellers agree to a $10 sale fee, payable when the device sells. This is a significant savings over eBay, where my estimated fee for the same item with the same price was approximately $24.

Buyers can ask the seller questions via a public threaded comment system, and sellers are alerted to activity via email. Once the purchase has been made, the buyer and seller can use a private version of these comments to communicate the details of the sale. One of the site’s operators even dropped in on my sale’s conversation to personally thank us for using Swappa. When was the last time you got a personal thank you from eBay?

Overall, selling my device via Swappa was an efficient and easy experience. Because of the focused nature of a site that deals in one specific type of device, it seems as though most buyers and sellers tend to be more knowledgeable. It feels more like a community of peers instead of the adversarial feel you get from Craigslist or eBay. I’ll definitely be using Swappa again when I need to sell another Android device.

-Cameron Richmond

Overall, Swappa.com seems to be a hit from both ends of the deal. Check them out next time you’re in the market, and if you’ve already purchased a device through Swappa, let us know in the comments what you think of it!