Swappa: An Online Marketplace For Gently Used Cell Phones

Ebay has always been the place to sell your used cell phones through auctions and Buy It Now sales. However, Swappa is a new marketplace where you can buy and sell used mobile devices including cell phones and tablets. Swappa does not feature auctions, but instead features fixed-pricing listings.

Ben Edwards (Swappa founder), originally created the website in 2010 specifically for the Android-user community, but has since expanded it to include all devices such as iPhones and Windows phones. Swappa still features modified phones including jailbroken iPhones and rooted Google phones. In fact, it is the official marketplace for XDA developers.

Swappa For Buyers

Swappa is known for strictly ensuring that all of the devices being sold on the website are in good condition and ready for activation. That means no bad ESNs, no cracked screens, and no water damage. If you are looking to buy a cell phone on Swappa, you don’t have to worry about spending your hard-earned money on a stolen phone or one that is unlikely to work when after your receive it in the mail. Swappa’s team is dedicated to verifying that every phone meets their requirements; every phone listed for sale must be individually reviewed and approved before it is added onto their marketplace. The team checks every phone’s ESN and requires the seller post verification photos to prove that they own the device.

If you are purchasing a phone, you can use your credit card or transfer the funds with PayPal. Just like on any other website, if you buy a phone or tablet with PayPal, you are covered with their Buyer’s Protection Policy. As a buyer, you will be required to pay an additional $10 as a transaction fee which is added onto the selling price.

Swappa For Buyers

Swappa For Sellers

Swappa is completely free for sellers, it doesn’t cost you a dime to list your device for sale and there are no commission fees. You will receive all payments though PayPal, which will be sent immediately after a buyer completes their transaction. Therefore sellers WILL be subject to PayPal fees. Sellers are also covered by PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy.

If you are interested in selling your device faster, you can pay to upgrade your device to a featured listing. Featured listings are highlighted and starred on the Swappa website to stand out from all of the other sellers. Additionally, your device will be tweeted to all of Swappa’s followers, and will not expire as quickly as a device that isn’t featured. It costs $7 to upgrade to a featured listing.

Swappa For Sellers

Swappa vs eBay

What does Swappa have that eBay doesn’t? I think the biggest advantage is that Swappa isn’t a ginormous corporation with thousands of listings being added every day. Swappa was developed for the mobile device niche, which allows the team to check every listing and attend to any customer support issues. Ebay is so big that it is virtually impossible to check every phone that is listed for auction. Hopefully Swappa can magage their growth and keep up with their strict guidelines.

If you sell your phone on Swappa you won’t have to pay any marketplace fees, whereas on eBay you will have to pay listing and commission fees. Swappa charges the buyer instead of the seller.

With Swappa you are paid immediately. On Ebay, it sometimes takes a few days to receive payment from the buyer. You don’t have to worry about the buyer not paying because the buyer can’t complete their purchase transaction until they send you the money.

My Experience With Swappa

Almost a year ago I bought a used iPhone 4 (8 GB Sprint) on Craigslist for $140 which was a great deal at the time. I am always looking for phones to flip for more money so this particular phone stood out to me. I decided to try to resell it on Swappa to try out their service for the first time.

Before you can sell on Swappa, you have to create a profile, and to do so you must login/link from either Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or OpenID. You must already have an account with one of these services to login and create a profile with Swappa.

After I was logged in and setup, I went to the iPhone 4 page. By selecting Sprint on the homepage, and then selecting the iPhone 4, I was brought to a page where I could choose to either buy or sell an iPhone 4. Obviously I chose sell. Swappa now shows you pricing data that shows the trends of what phones are selling for on their website so you can see if your phone is going up or down in price.

The next page allows you to add a description and choose a condition. You can choose Mint, Good, Fair, or New. However, if you’re phone is broken you cannot sell it. You can only sell gently used phones that are in working condition on Swappa.

Below the description you can choose a selling price, which includes shipping as well. It also shows what the buyer will have to pay after the $10 buying fee. Next you have to add your ESN/MEID/IMEI, payment, shipping, and return details. The ESN/MEID/IMEI information won’t be displayed to the public but will be used by the Swappa customer support to verify your phone hasn’t been reported stolen.

After you have added all the phone information, you can create the listing. When I added my phone for sale, it was submitted to Swappa for approval and listed in my profile. Before anyone can buy it, the Swappa team has to approve all of the information I submitted, and before they can do that I had to add verification pictures. Verification pictures are submitted photos of your device on top of a piece of paper that you have written your username and listing ID number on. This proves that you are submitting pictures of a phone you actually own rather than stealing pictures off of the internet.

My listing was approved and ready for sale within 24 hours. I originally listed the iPhone 4 for $225 hoping for an $80 profit. A few days went by and still no sale. I lowered the phone to $215. Another few days and still nothing. I lowered the phone again to $195. After a few more days my phone sold and I profited $55 gross of shipping and PayPal fees. I shipped the phone out and received positive feedback from the buyer about a week later. Mission accomplished.

Swappa Paypal

The Results

Overall, I had a great experience with Swappa. I made a profit on my phone without the headaches of excessive fees, returns/refunds, or fraud. You will get more cash selling your device on Swappa then you will on any buyback website. However there are a few things to point out. All online marketplaces must charge a fee to stay in business. Swappa charges a fee to the buyers which increases the selling price. As a seller, I’d rather the buyer pay the fee but I wonder if that sends buyers away from the website? I also noticed that phones on Swappa are generally listed at higher prices than anywhere else. This is because Swappa only allows phones in great condition to be sold. But I also wonder if this causes buyers to look elsewhere. Because there are a few barriers for buyers, it took my phone about two weeks to sell which was longer than I had expected.

I only have two suggestions for Swappa. First, offer alternatives to PayPal. There are a lot of sellers on eBay who don’t like PayPal. Offering alternatives would give Swappa another advantage over it’s competitors. I highly recommend integrating Stripe Connect payments to allow sellers to directly accept credit card payments. This would give sellers more control over the transaction.

Additionally, the buyer left feedback for me but I was not able to leave feedback for the buyer. I think it would be helpful for both buyers and sellers to leave feedback for each other. I recommend a blind feedback system.


Swappa is a great marketplace and is a business model I think was highly needed for cell phone consumers. The second hand cell phone market is at an all time high right now and people need a website to buy and sell on that is specifically for mobile devices. You can find all of the new and popular mobile devices for sale on Swappa. Tablet sales are also seeing exponential growth rates. Swappa has been around for several years and has a top-notch reputation for customer service; Swappa’s staff is involved with each and every transaction. In 2012, Swappa sold over $1,000,000 worth of used mobile devices and the team is aiming for $5,000,000 in 2013. If you’ve picked out your next cell phone and want to sell your old one (or you’re planning on buying a slightly older model for a low price), Swappa is a simple way to buy your phone and be on your way.

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