Monthly Archives: October 2011

Android early adopters, rejoice! Swappa is an easy way to buy / sell android phones. (Article edited: Maybe I’ll stick to selling my cast off phones to friends)

Swappa logo

Edited 10/17/2011: See Update at bottom of article. Despite swappa being an easy way to buy / sell devices, I think I’ll stick to selling my old devices to friends instead.


Like so many other nerds, I love how competition in the mobile marketplace is causing mobile phone features to evolve quickly. It’s a wonderful thing for consumers, especially early adopters.

The downside?

Being an early adopter can get really expensive. One way to mitigate the cost is to sell mobile phones you’re no longer using. But I’d always been hesitant to do so, after hearing so many horror stories about cell phone sales on ebay and craigslist.

Enter — a web site where android users can buy or sell their gently used, recent mobile phones. What makes swappa (in my opinion) preferable to craigslist or ebay?

For buyers:

  • Sellers are required to indicate specific condition of the phone.
  • Sellers are required to provide the IMEI up front (not disclosed to the buyer until after purchase).
  • Sellers are required to itemize what comes with the phone.
  • No haggling: The phone cost is clearly noted on sale listing.
  • No “surprise” shipping costs: The seller is responsible for routine shipping cost.
  • All communication with seller is via

For sellers:

  • It’s cheap to add a swappa sale listing: It costs $10 for the listing. Add another $10 to promote it to “featured” which gains your listing greater visibility via a @swappa tweet.
  • Seller pays shipping within U.S. — I usually indicate shipping via UPS ground with the caveat that faster shipping will require a 2nd paypal payment (i.e., expedited shipping at buyer’s cost).
  • No haggling: You set the price and the buyer finalizes the sale by issuing a paypal account, or not. You receive an email when the buyer issues their payment via paypal.
  • Rooted phones are welcome. The sales listing form even offers a field to specific root information!
  • All communication with buyer is via

So, you decide to sell your device via How can you prompt it to sell quickly??

  • Add clear, macro photos to your listing so buyer can see the condition of your phone and any accessories
  • Be as specific as possible in your listing. For example: If including an SDcard, indicate both the size and speed.
  • If you’re including gently used accessories, it’s okay to specify how much the phone and accessories cost retail.
  • Include a link to the technical specs for your phone.
  • And, of course… you will sell more quickly if you price your phone competitively.

And to make it a pleasant experience for the person buying your phone:

  • Post-sale, treat the buyer as you’d want to be treated: Be patient and answer their questions promptly. Remember, they’ve just sent you money for a device sight unseen. I also try to offer the buyer multiple carrier options for shipping (e.g., UPS, fedex, or USPS) in case one method is more convenient for them than another.
  • Limit activation issues for the buyer: If it’s a locked phone, contact your carrier to add a note to your account specifying that phone has been sold.
  • Ship promptly! As an early adopter, you like to get your tech stuff quickly… so does your buyer!

I’ve used twice so far, and have really been pleased with the experience. One phone sold in 3 days, the other sold in 2 hours!

I recommend wholeheartedly. If you’re an android early adopter, give swappa a try… you’ll like it!

Edited 10/17/2011: Well, no longer sure I feel comfortable selling phones I no longer use to strangers. A buyer left a comment post-sale accusing me of shipping a damaged device. (It was in excellent condition with no damage and I’d posted photos showing phone’s condition from various angles.) His accusatory message ended with “thanks for the good deal & fast shipping!”. Very weird experience. I’m not sure why someone would do that (and certainly not swappa founders’ fault), but it left a bad taste in my mouth. Ugh.