Trade-In Tech
by on June 29, 2022

These days, it's hard to find someone who doesn't have a cell phone. Considering that, you might be thinking about starting or growing a business selling refurbished phones. While this type of business can be a great way to make money, it's helpful to learn a few things before you get started.


Fortunately, you've come to the right place. Trade-In Tech has been helping people and companies resell their cell phones online for many years. With that in mind, we wanted to put together a mini-guide to help you start flipping phones.


In this post, we'll be covering all you need to know about buying, refurbishing, and reselling smartphones. We'll also list the best places to find used cell phones (both online and offline)!


What to Find Out Before Buying Used Cell Phones



Saying that there's a wide selection of used phones on the market would be a huge understatement. This means that phones vary wildly, especially when you're looking for devices in the used market. With so many cell phones available for sale online, this situation can make any new buyer feel overwhelmed.


Instead of freaking yourself out, check out these important questions we recommend asking buyers before you hit that submit order button.


Is the Phone Unlocked?


Before you purchase any old phone you find, make sure that these phones are unlocked. We don't mean locked by a password. Instead, these types of locks are ones that companies place on smartphones for a wide variety of reasons.


A carrier can lock a phone if was reported lost or stolen. Needless to say, you don't want to be a business that sells other people's stolen or lost merchandise! Plus, the other major drawback of a locked phone is that it won't have any of the functionality of a working phone. That means locked phones won't be able to make calls, receive messages, and the many other things that make smartphones so enjoyable.


Fortunately, it's easy for a seller to check whether or not a phone is unlocked. If a seller can't provide you with this information, it's likely best to shop elsewhere.


Is the Phone Damaged?


Another important factor to consider before buying a used cell phone is the physical condition of this device. You wouldn't want to pay full price for a refurbished phone with a broken screen and non-working buttons. So, always make sure to find out about the condition of any electronic device before you purchase them.


You should be able to learn some information about the condition of a phone by reading the listing's description and checking out the seller's posted pictures. If you want added peace of mind, don't be afraid to send the seller in question a message that asks about the condition their phones are in.


Battery Life?


Your customers aren't going to get much enjoyment out of a phone that has poor battery life. Considering that, it's also important to make sure you find out the condition of a phone's battery.


Even if a phone's battery isn't in the best condition, you can always order a replacement battery for it. But, by finding out the battery life of a phone you're interested in, you can prevent accidentally shipping out a device to your customers with batteries in poor condition.


Where to Buy Used Phones Online



Before you can start spending money on smartphones, you need to know where to find them. So, let's learn more about where to find every used phone your business needs to get started. Instead of paying expensive retail costs, the sources below will help you get amazing phones at unbeatable prices.


Trade-In Tech


When you need cell phones, you can find all sorts of devices for sale on Trade-In Tech. If you haven't heard of us, we'll give you some quick background info on our business. Trade-In Tech began in 2012 as a platform exclusively for electronics resellers. Since this time, we've continued growing and welcoming members from around the world.


With so many beneficial reasons to become a member of Trade-In Tech, let's take a closer look at some of the main advantages of this platform.


Competitive Prices


When you're looking for a used phone online, price is an understandably important concern. With that in mind, you'll be glad to know that Trade-In Tech features many listings at fair prices. Since our members set their own prices, it's easy to find what you need at an affordable price. These same members understand that they must set competitive prices.


As you shop around on Trade-In Tech, you'll run into plenty of listings featuring phones that are priced to sell. That's because a large percentage of our members run their own companies. Because of that, they understand the importance of having phones for sale at the right price.


A Marketplace Full of Used and Refurbished Phones



If a used or refurbished phone is no longer what you're looking for, Trade-In Tech's Marketplace also has a ton of sellers selling brand new phones. Our sellers list all of the phones people and companies want, including various iPhone models and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. You'll also find smartphones from LG, HUAWEI, and many other brands.


Should you get tired of buying and reselling mobile phones, there are a ton of other electronics for sale on Trade-In Tech. You'll regularly find tablets, computers, televisions, accessories for electronics, and much more on our platform.


Easy to Start Making New Connections


An important part of making money in any industry involves having the right connections. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to just pull random connections out of the sky. If you want to start connecting, networking, and working with resellers, Trade-In Tech has everything you need to make your life easier.


After you join Trade-In Tech, you can instantly start making your very own member's page. This is where you can let the other tens of thousands of Trade-In Tech members know more about your business and the types of electronics it resells.


For instance, let's say that you need to buy the iPhone 11 for your customers. If that was the case, you could search for other members that sell the iPhone. From there, you could simply connect with these members and begin to network with them.




Another source known for its wide range of items is Amazon. If you're looking for a smartphone in used condition, it could be worthwhile to check out one of the Internet's largest digital stores. As you can imagine, there is a huge selection of mobile phones available for sale on Amazon. But this platform does have a few major drawbacks worth mentioning.


One disadvantage of buying a used smartphone on Amazon involves the price of these items. While it's possible to get decent deals on used phones purchased through Amazon, most people find that they're paying the same price from an Amazon seller that they would spend buying the same phone at a retailer.


What's good if you have any potential disputes on Amazon is that this company will most likely side with you if you were the affected party. Amazon's support team has also gotten much better than it used to be.


If you don't mind doing a lot of hunting to save a few bucks on a smartphone, Amazon can be a solid choice when you need more inventory.


Facebook Marketplace


As you continue to shop around for used or refurbished phones, it's also a good idea to think about creating an account on Facebook Marketplace. This site is Facebook's version of a social media marketplace. However, what's available for sale is divided up based on a central location.


For example, imagine that you live in Tallahassee, Florida. If you signed into Facebook Marketplace and searched for Samsung Galaxy smartphones, you would see listings from people living in and around the Tallahassee area. This is great if you live in a big city where a lot of phones from Apple and Samsung get listed for sale. Not so great if there are not a lot of people selling their phones in a small town.


Now, let's discuss the elephant in the room involving Facebook Marketplace, and that's meeting people in person. Not everyone is willing to meet a random stranger to get a deal on an electronic device. Other people have no problem with meeting random individuals.




Before Facebook Marketplace rose to prominence, there was Craigslist. The premise behind how Craigslist works is fairly easy to understand. First, someone lists what they want to sell. Then, interested people contact the seller. It's kind of like a first come first serve setup, especially since Craigslist doesn't have an auction system.


As it is with Facebook Marketplace, what you find on these local platforms depends on how big of a city you live in. For example, someone looking for a used iPhone in Los Angeles is going to get many more results than someone searching for the same thing who lives in a small town in Ohio.


The main problem with Craigslist doesn't involve a lack of options. It's fairly easy to find a range of used smartphones for sale on this platform. The real challenge while using Craigslist is separating quality used electronics from total junk or knock-off merchandise.


To avoid having a seller try and pull a fast one on a new buyer, we also recommend that you have a clear understanding of the market values of the smartphones you're interested in buying. It's not uncommon for some of Craiglist's sellers to try and pull a fast one on a buyer by listing phones for sale that are way above market value.




You might also find a wide range of refurbished phones on eBay, a popular auction website. Just make sure to keep an eye out on seller ratings. These ratings are eBay's way of letting a buyer know how other buyers felt about working with a seller.


If you see lots of negative reviews, it's probably best to stay away from that member. Instead, look for sellers with high ratings and lots of positive feedback.


Asking People You Know



If you need to get your hands on cheap phones, asking around on social media might help you get what you're after. Of course, the number of people willing to sell you their phones will vary based on the size of your social circle.


Unless you're friends with electronics wholesalers, you're probably not going to get a ton of inventory from asking people you know. However, this method could be the best way to get your hands on your first used phone if you're just starting out.


When you're looking for deals on phones from people you know, it's helpful to try and reach as many people as possible. Reach out to friends, family members, colleagues, and just about anyone else who might have an old phone they're willing to part with for money.


How to Price Your Used Phones to Sell Fast?



Even if you have the latest and greatest smartphone models, you're not going to have success unless you understand how to price your products. Considering that, here are three great sources to check while you're pricing your mobile phones.


Checking Competitor's Listings


When you need to find the ideal price for your smartphones, it's a good idea to check out listings from your competitors. Chances are, most of these competitors have been selling goods online for quite a while. If you check out their listings, it's likely that you'll walk away having a solid idea of how much what you're selling is worth.


You can take this method even further by going to a website that lets you see how much sold listings went for. For example, let's say that you needed to know how much to price a used Samsung smartphone. If you had the make and model of this phone, you can search these keywords on eBay, filter by sold listings, and how much money sellers charged for their items.


Visiting Retail Websites


There's way more than one retail site selling goods online. We're sure you can think of many off the top of your head. There's Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and many others. What do all of these retailers have in common? They all sell smartphones. And, if they're selling smartphones in their stores, you can bet these same companies are placing their prices on their websites.


By visiting the websites of these companies, you can sort your results by model, brands, or something else. After you find the phones you're interested in, simply take note of the prices and save them for when it's time to start shopping.


We also recommend visiting the websites of smartphone carriers for accurate pricing information. These websites carry every popular brand you could think of, making them great resources when it's time to start setting your company's prices. If you're stumped regarding which carriers' pricing you should be checking, it's hard to go wrong with any of the big-name retailers like:

  • T-Mobile

  • AT&T

  • Verizon

  • Mint Mobile

  • U.S. Cellular


Keeping Up With Smartphone-Related News



If the previous two options don't help you find accurate mobile phone prices, you can also start looking into recent smartphone-related news. Whether you need the price for a new iPhone, Android phone, or something different, these websites will have the information you need. However, we only recommend using this last resource to look at pricing for new phones. Most news websites aren't going to do a lot of stories on older phones.


Getting a Used Cell Phone Ready to Resell



By this point, you should have your first order under your belt. While you're waiting for your inventory to arrive, why not learn how to get these devices ready for the resale market? With that in mind, here is what you need to do to get a phone ready to resell.


Physically Cleaning the Phone


If you want your used phone to look like a new phone, it's helpful to physically clean it. While it's true that smartphones contain lots of delicate parts, don't believe that you need an expensive cleaner or lots of special equipment to properly clean your used phones.


Instead, experts recommend that you use either an antibacterial wipe or a soft, microfiber-type cloth with a small amount of 70% isopropyl alcohol. Also, make sure to avoid getting any alcohol into the ports of the phones you clean. This could result in alcohol getting into these parts and wreaking havoc on your devices.


We also recommend either thoroughly washing your hands or wearing latex gloves before you start cleaning any phones. Even though your hands might look fine, there is a lot of dirt and germs that the human eye can't see. Considering that, having unclean hands could drastically lengthen the amount of time it takes you to get your phones clean.


If the phone that you're buying to resell came with any accessories, now would also be a great time to clean these items. After all, you wouldn't want to sell a clean smartphone that's paired with dirty accessories.


Erasing Data



We're now getting into what could be called the more technical side of refurbished phones. However, erasing or wiping data from these devices is still an incredibly important part of providing quality phone flipping services. If not, you risk reselling phones that contain other people’s potentially sensitive information.


But what if you're not comfortable with your ability to safely and effectively remove data from a phone? That's okay, there are many companies that provide data erasing services. One of these services we recommend comes from a well-known company (and Trade-In Tech member) Phonecheck.


Phonecheck is capable of checking and wiping data from almost any Android or iPhone model. This powerful service can also check out the condition of a phone's camera, information about internal components, storage space info, and much more. Another cool perk of using this service is that it's way faster than checking phones manually.


Taking Pictures


We promise that you're almost ready to start posting your used phones for sale online. But first, you're going to need to take some pictures of what you're selling. Don't worry, you don't need an expensive camera to get great photos. Actually, all you really need is your smartphone!


With good lighting and a steady hand, you should be able to get some quality photos that engage the people checking out your listing. We don't recommend using stock photos or pictures from another seller. The former can scare people away from your listings, and the latter can potentially get your seller account into a lot of trouble!


Creating Product Listings



We're now onto one of the most important parts of the reselling process and that involves creating a listing. A great listing won't guarantee that you'll make a sale. However, having this type of listing is far better than rushing through the listing creation process.


Every good product listing starts with a title. Make sure that your listing's title accurately describes what you're selling. This should include the make and model of your phone. It's also a good idea to include any distinct features of your phone in the listing's title.


Now, let's move on to the body of your listing. This is where you're able to mention everything about what you're selling. You'll also want to use this section to accurately describe any potential cosmetic faults with your phones. You don't want a buyer to find a bunch of flaws and cosmetic defects that your listing never described.


In conclusion, as long as you know where to look, you can find great deals on valuable used phones. It might take a little time and money to get these phones in perfect working order. However, it's absolutely possible to start and scale up a successful business by working with used phones. If you want more information on how to succeed in the electronics industry, check out Trade-In Tech's blog.

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