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May 05

Outsmart the smart phone market to save and make money on your devices

Reading Time: 7 mins

London-based Pablo Gonzalez-Iglesias became an expert on buying and selling mobile phones when, like many others, he got scammed one too many times. Indeed he started Vendi, Britain’s scam-free marketplace for shoppers and sellers to get the best smartphone, tablet and mobile accessories bargains in the country. Here are his tips for saving money on smartphones, and making money when you’re ready to sell.

We love our smartphones, headphones and tablets, but with more expensive devices constantly hitting the market, people are seeing their mobile bills rocket. Adopting a smart approach to buying –and selling– our gadgets can help us to stay connected without breaking the bank. And having bought and sold tens of thousands of the gadgets with my marketplace, Vendi, I know all the tricks of trade. So I want to share them with MoneyMagpie’s savvy money savers and makers.

In this guide, I help you find the best value devices and accessories, avoid the many nasty scams that plague today’s bargain hunters and help you get the best value for selling your old gear to make way for the new.


Buy a phone outright – save up to £300 even on flagship

Buying a smartphone outright can be cheaper in the long run compared to locking yourself into a two-year contract. Indeed, even when buying a flagship phone with all the bells and whistles, you can still save up to £300 over the length of what would have been a two year contract. And if you’re smart about when you buy the phone, you can save even more.

A SIM-only option gives you optimal freedom, flexibility and control. You own the phone outright and have the choice to buy new or used. With a contract, on the other hand, the phone is always new and its cost is hidden in monthly minutes and data cost.

Of course, if you want to spread the cost of buying a phone outright (like the cost of a contract phone is split over a number of months) there are many services available that let you do so. The good news is that, when you own your phone outright, you can sell it whenever you want to upgrade and put the money towards your next device, which you can’t do when in a contract.

Of course, with a SIM-only deal, you’ll still probably get a contract for minutes and data, but these are far, far cheaper than one that comes with a phone, and shopping around yields brilliant bargains.


Buy new or used?

Rising prices and the growth of e-waste –unrecyclable electronic trash– have inspired shoppers and sellers alike to create a better value, more sustainable way to buy new phones and accessories, and stop devices going to landfill.

Indeed, more people than ever before are buying used smartphones, and fewer buying new, which is great news for buyers, sellers and the environment! Last year, around 137 million used smartphones were sold in the UK, Europe and the US, with used smartphones now accounting for about 10% of all smartphone sales.

Although the top of the range phones now cost north of £1,000, even those bought three or four years ago are still better quality than something new bought then in the £200 to £300 range.

So buying used is good for the environment and you can get good brands for less. But what if you want a new phone and don’t want to pay full whack? In that case, patience is a virtue.


Buying new – patience pays with savings of up to 70%

Did you know that even the newest, top of the range devices such as the Apple iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy S21 and Apple Airpods can be found new for 18% cheaper if you just wait a few weeks after they’ve launched?

Here’s where I’m going to drop some social science. The ‘Stanford marshmallow experiment’ was a study in patience in the 1970s. In it, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes. As with marshmallow experiments, so with smartphones.

If you can wait for a month or two, or even weeks, following a new phone launch (or tablet or phone accessories such as earbuds), your patience will grab you the latest, newest gear at a fraction of the price. On Vendi, for instance, we have top of the range Apple and Samsung phones, as well as Apple Airpods Pro and Galaxy Buds for 18%-70% discount off of RRP some weeks after launch, even with the mainstream stores still selling them at full price.


Smartphone marketplaces – outsmart the rogue traders

Of course, the only place to find up to 70% off of RRP for new products is in an online marketplace. An online marketplace is an ecommerce site that offers many different products from many different sellers. You’ll know the familiar ‘generalists’ like Amazon and eBay. But nowadays, they’ve gotten niche, and some specialise in clothes (Depop) or sneakers (StockX) and consumer electronics (Vendi). Shopping with a specialist online marketplace is where you’re most likely to find the best deals, even during sale events like Black Friday.

With the rising popularity of small vendors selling new and refurbished products, as well as consumers selling and buying used products, many marketplaces are unfortunately rife with dodgy dealers selling real-looking fakes. Sadly, whether it’s buying online or in-store, criminals and organised crime gangs have flooded some of the best known names with counterfeit products, because shockingly none of those sites have verification or authentication for consumer electronics.

Cynically using mock and substandard parts, a single rogue trader might use hundreds of online accounts to sell tens of thousands of bogus Apple and Samsung smartphones and accessories. Samsung, in fact, is the most copied phone, with more than 5.7 million snide handsets flogged last year alone.  Because these top end brands fetch high prices, but the knock-offs cost barely anything, swindling innocent shoppers and resellers is big business. And because so many online reviews are now fake, unsuspecting shoppers are easily tricked. So even a user with a large number of 5 star reviews is no longer automatically trustworthy, if at all. Often, the rule of thumb, “if (the price) it looks too good to be true, it probably is” applies, but savvy scammers even price the fakes reassuringly close to genuine bargains.

That’s why it’s worth checking out Vendi, the scam-free marketplace. To protect shoppers, its clever AI and highly trained team of authentication experts physically inspect every product listed to verify it before sale. Using a large number of checkpoints provided by manufacturers, including IMEI numbers, and checking databases to ensure the product is not only authentic but also never been stolen, Vendi ensures everyone can buy and sell with total confidence. And that’s why our sellers don’t have or need reviews, because the product is exactly as it’s described.


Buy to sell – know which brands hold their value  

‘Flip phones’ are dead, long live flipping phones! When buying a used or new phone outright, think about its resale value. Part of the joy of owning the handset is being able to sell it and feeling satisfied with the cash to put towards your shiny upgrade.

Apple and Samsung are the priciest brands for a good reason; they hold their value for longer, with Apple losing the least value (45%) in the 12 months following their release. Apple also provides vital software and security updates for longer than any other brand, too, meaning its phones have extra longevity. Samsung is the next best at holding good value.

On the other hand, if you buy one that loses most of its value, like OnePlus (95% lost within a year), it might make more sense to buy cheap as chips and hold onto it for as long as possible, without worrying the resale value, but getting maximum use value out of it.


When to sell? Hint, before the new one model is announced

You’ve barely got your latest, greatest new phone when it seems like yet another flashy new model is set to launch, making your one feel a bit old hat. Worse, it reduces the value of your existing handset. So the key is to find the optimum time to sell your phone. Ideally, sell your phone before the new one goes on sale. Unless, that is, you have to have the latest and greatest and can’t sell yours until the other one is available!

Your phone will probably lose around 25% of its value when the other one goes on sale. But even the announcement can set prices of existing gadgets wobbling like plates in a China shop in danger of crashing any minute. So keep your eyes peeled for any announcements, such as Apple’s Macworld, where new products are almost always unveiled months before hitting the shelves. If you can get yours on sale before the announcement, do: it could gain your sale value a mighty 25%!


Where to sell?

There are many places to sell your used device to make some cash. You’ll get the best price using a marketplace. But, as with buying, the likes of eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can be draining and even dangerous places. When it comes to expensive smartphones and accessories, which are easy to grab and sell, sellers who insist on collecting the product in person might present a risk. Trust me, I’ve been there, and have had to involve the police as a consequence. I know from bitter personal experience that your personal safety is absolutely paramount, regardless of how much cash you want to make. So the safest way is the best way: avoid in person purchases.

Many sellers, whether you’re selling a single phone or have a burgeoning backroom empire flipping several phones for some extra cash, find most marketplaces frustrating. Particularly for gadgets, time wasters and bad payers can crash the sale.

Equally, if you don’t sell many things often, you might not have any or many reviews. Despite untrustworthy bots being responsible for many fake reviews these days, if you’re listing on a site that is reviews-driven, you’ll struggle to sell.

Verifying devices means that reviews aren’t necessary. Having independent authentication ensures the device is not only legitimate, it’s as described by the seller and 100% trustworthy. And that’s what we do at Vendi. So it’s easy to list and sell the product, and it’s collected from you and delivered to your buyer with a professional delivery service.


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