Advantages for Buying a Cell Phone on eBay
Most everyone has a smartphone today, and if not, at least a mobile phone. Buying any kind of electronic item can be risky online because you are buying it sight unseen and must trust the seller. eBay has a guarantee that will help you if you get scammed, but it is better not to have to go through the entire dispute process if you don't have to.
Locked vs. Unlocked Phones
The protocol for buying a smartphone is to go to your local cell phone store.
It is convenient because buyers can preview different options, but can be inconvenient if you don't want to be stuck in a contract. Most major carriers, like Verizon , lock you into a 2-year contract. It can be expensive and restricting because if another deal comes along, you may have to pay a penalty fee to get out of your current contract.
This is called buying a locked phone - a phone that has a SIM card programmed to only work with a specific carrier. The network, such as Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint, comes with a contract binding the customer to that particular network. Usually, the time frame is 2 years. It is how the network makes is money, through the intangible and invisible product of cell phone service.
An unlocked phone is one that is basically a free agent. It isn't associated or bound to any specific provider. Unlocked phones can be used with most any carrier, which is why unlocked cell phones are sold on eBay.
They are not bound to an agreement with a carrier. An unlocked phone works just the same as a locked phone. You can make calls, send texts, use apps, and surf the internet. It does not come with a contract, so the buyer can choose whatever compatible phone carrier they wish to use.
Benefits of Buying Unlocked Cell Phones on eBay
Huge selection. eBay has thousands of models to choose from including the newest technology, down to cell phones that are dated but good for people who just want something cheap.
Believe it or not, there are people who just want a phone to be a phone and don't need apps, texting, or YouTube on their phone. The local cell phone store only has a limited selection.
Better compatibility. Unlocked phones can work with any network. Users can change GSM networks when desired. People who frequently travel for their job, or fur fun, love this option because they can switch to another network when coverage is lacking in the current area. For example, if you have a phone with Verizon service, and you travel out of the network, you may incur extra charges or just not have service. It isn't a great option if you are traveling on business and need to be able to communicate with colleagues or clients.
More economical. It may seem more expensive at first to buy an unlocked cell phone, because in today's world with all the promotions, a brand new phone can be so cheap. But remember, the main carriers can offer phones so cheap because they will recover the cost through the 2-year contract. Unlocked phones are cheaper over the life of the phone. There is no long-term contract, and the user can change carriers any time he wants. Or, if money is tight, you can use the unlocked phone with prepaid plans, which have much less expensive rates.
Higher resale prices. If you are a meticulous person who takes care of things, you can get your money back out of an unlocked phone. Many people buy an unlocked phone for exactly this reason - knowing they will resell it when the next new model comes out and they want to upgrade. Unlocked phones can sell for about 30% more than a locked phone. For example, if you are selling an iPhone 6 that is locked to Verizon, the only buyers that would be interested in it are Verizon subscribers. But, if you have an unlocked iPhone 6, you can sell it to anyone with any plan, and even in other countries. So, selling an unlocked phone gives you a much larger buying audience.
eBay Guarantee. eBay stands behind everything sold on the site. If you don't get what you ordered, or have trouble with your seller, don't hesitate to open a case on eBay and ask them to step in.
Updated by Suzanne Wells on May 29, 2017.