I’ve owned an iPod Touch for a long time. I still remember when I got my first one, a 2nd generation, in 7th grade. Little did I know that I got a raw deal because the iPod Touch 4th generation would be out in two months, but hey, it was still pretty awesome. I had that iPod for about two years, then I got the 5th generation iPod Touch when it first came out. I also had that iPod for two years, and I loved it dearly. But it’s probably not a surprise to you that I would rather have an iPhone than an iPod Touch.
Also not a surprise is the fact that iPhones are really, really expensive. Sure, you can get one for $199, but that’s subsidized with a two year contract. What this means is that the full cost of the iPhone is $649, but your carrier fronts Apple the $449 and then charges you more for your contract. T-Mobile (the carrier I have) works differently. They charge you less for your data plan to begin with, but you have to pay the full cost of the phone. You can do this up front or in installments over two years, and at the end of that two year period you’ve paid about the same. However, I didn’t want a hefty bill for the next two years, so I wanted to pay the full cost of the phone up front, and then have a nice, low, T-Mobile bill. But even though the data is cheap, $649 is still a lot of money.
So what do you think I did? I went on eBay of course! Turns out there are dozens of used iPhones available on eBay, for around 2/3 of the cost. But they’re used, you say, and you have a good point. Buying a used iPhone is pretty risky. Even if it’s in perfect condition cosmetically, the battery has been used and probably won’t last as long. Fortunately, I lucked out. I found a phone that, according to the seller, had been replaced at the Apple store just one week before. This meant that both the phone and the battery were in good condition. It was an iPhone 5s, 32gb, silver, clean ESN (meaning there’s no pending contract on the device), and unlocked for any GSM carrier (read: T-Mobile and AT&T). I asked the guy about a hundred questions covering every tiny detail of the device, and according to the seller, it was in flawless shape. He gave me definitive enough answers that I felt like I would have a case with eBay buyer protected if he ripped me off, so I bought the phone for $415. That’s still a whole lot of money, but if I had bought this model from Apple new, it would have been $600. That’s savings of almost $200. I rolled the dice, and so far, it seems to have paid off big. I’ve had the phone for over a week now, and it works perfectly. It’s in like-new cosmetic condition and so far even the battery has been performing well. After getting the phone, however, there was still one more hurdle: the data plan.
According to T-Mobile’s website, we could get three lines with unlimited talk and text, plus 1gb of data each for $90 (plus taxes and fees). 1gb isn’t much, but it’s something, and the price is pretty good. However, I had one more ace up my sleeve. We’ve been T-Mobile customers for over 10 years, and I had a hunch that they would give us a deal if we called them up and asked. Turns out, I was right. For the rest of this year, we get 3gb of data per line, plus unlimited talk and text, for only $85, which is basically what we were already paying! Without this deal, 3gb each would be $120! At the end of the year, we’ll have to either pay the extra $35 or drop down to 1gb each and pay another $5. That’s not a terrible price, but I’m hoping that next year we can call again and get another deal. Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?
So long story short, I actually had a good experience buying an iPhone on eBay (gasp!). I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but if you do your homework, it can pay off big time. ••