Smartphones are really easy to buy at a discounted rate, but you usually have to sign your life away with a two-year contract and pay way too much money for cellular service every month. That’s one way to go about it, but if you’re in the market for an iPhone off-contract, there are still ways that you can buy one for cheap.
While Apple has always stuck with one model each year, 2013 saw the first time that Apple finally dipped its toes into the cheaper smartphone market with the iPhone 5c. Granted, Apple sees it as its middle-of-the-road option, but it marked the first time that a brand new iPhone from Apple was priced below the usual $649 off-contract price tag.
However, you don’t necessarily need to buy a brand new iPhone, as a used model can be much less expensive and still perform admirably. Plus, buying used will save you a lot of cash. With that said, here are a few methods you can try out in order to score an iPhone for much less than what you would pay for a brand-new model directly from Apple.
While we prefer buying expensive products from reputable sources, you can’t beat the deals that you can score on eBay. You’ll just need to be more careful when browsing for iPhones on eBay, since there are a lot of sellers out there who are looking to take buyers for a ride, and many iPhones you’ll find on eBay could be stolen units.
Remember that one guy that bought a photo of an Xbox One for $615? Well, he thought he was buying an actual Xbox One console, but he was tricked. Granted, he read the description, but simply just assumed that it was a real Xbox One console that he was bidding on. To avoid such conundrums like this, be sure to thoroughly read the description and make sure that it’s the right item that you’re bidding on.
eBay sellers like to trick buyers by putting fine print in the description or simply just saying “Xbox One box” in the hopes that naive bidders will miss the fact that it’s just the box for sale.
We’ve also seen sellers list dummy iPhones, and while they usually make it clear that it’s not a real iPhone, it’s important to read the description instead of just relying on photos.
Not all eBay sellers are bad. In fact, you’ll rarely come across a trickster, but they’re out there, so be careful.
Craigslist is perhaps one of the most sketchiest places to buy consumer electronics, but when used carefully, you can find a great deal on a cheap iPhone.
We’ve discussed many times how Craigslist is a hotbed for scams, but there are also a lot of good guys that genuinely just want to sell you their old iPhone that they don’t need anymore, and since Craiglist is usually full of sellers looking to just get rid of their old hardware, they’re usually willing to give you a great deal.
Just be careful that you’re not buying a stolen iPhone. A good way to tell if it’s stolen is if you ask the seller to turn off Find My iPhone or reset the device to factory settings in front of you. The seller needs to know the Apple ID credentials for both of these tasks, and if he doesn’t know them, or if he refuses to do any of these tasks, then it’s safe bet that the iPhone was stolen.
If eBay and Craigslist aren’t your thing, Swappa is essentially the sunny, green pasture that awaits you at the end of the tunnel. Swappa is heavily regulated by its staff members and every seller is required to verify the devices that they’re selling, so you know that you’re not buying a stolen iPhone when you do business on Swappa.
You can find some great deals on Swappa as well, thanks to it being heavily competitive with a lot of sellers trying to get rid of their old iPhones. Many of them would be willing you negotiate with you on a better price.
You can easily take advantage of numerous iPhone sales from several big retail chains, including Best Buy, Staples and Walmart. Many of these stores will discount iPhones every now and then — usually around $50 off, but we’ve seen deals in the recent past where they’ll knock off as much as $100 off the price.
In some cases, that’s as big of a discount as buying used, but if you’re wanting a brand new iPhone for as little as possible, then waiting for a sale at a retail location or carrier store is probably your best bet.
If you don’t trust yourself with finding a legit iPhone on eBay or Craigslist, perhaps the next best solution is to ask friends and make a call-out on various social networking services.
Simply posting about how you’re in the market for an iPhone will automatically get all of your friends to try and help you find a good deal on one. While none of your friends, specifically, may have an iPhone to sell to you, they might know another friend who is selling one. From there, you can make the connection and buy your new phone.
I’ve found that usually only your closest friends are helpful in this respect, so don’t expect every single one of your Facebook friends to be keeping their eyes peeled for an iPhone deal for you, but at least you’re getting the word out, and every little bit helps.