I Want an iPhone but I Don’t Want to Pay $500!

A reader, Amber writes…

I am looking to get an iPhone through Straight Talk, but I’m not willing to shell out the $500 to do so. I’ve been looking on Amazon, and they seem to be cheaper there. I don’t have a carrier at the moment. All I have is tracfone. When I got the phone I have now, I bought my phone online and went from straight talk to tracfone. Anyways. My question is. Should I just buy a phone online? And if I get an unlocked one from AT&T, does it need to be activated? Or would my best bet be to get a straight talk phone? Thank you to whoever replies.

Hi Amber,
Using an iPhone with Straight Talk is a great way to save, but unfortunately new iPhones are still expensive. You did not mention which model iPhone you are looking for, whether you are looking for a new or used iPhone, and what your budget is.

In general buying a smartphone on Amazon is safe. Amazon has a good return policy. However, most of those iPhones you see listed on Amazon are not sold through Amazon but through other sellers. It’s sometimes hard to tell if the phones they are selling are new, refurbished or used. So you may not get what you expect. That’s why the return policy is so important.

I wanted to buy a brand new Samsung Galaxy S3 so I bought one from a seller on Amazon. The phone arrived in a scuffed up product box, and the product model number on the box was not the Galaxy S3 model I ordered. I called the seller to ask about this. They promised to call me back and never did.  Fortunately I didn’t wait, I just returned the phone to Amazon, a few hours after it was delivered.  Amazon refunded my purchase a few days later after they received the return. I don’t think the seller was scamming me, I think it was probably a new phone that had been repackaged, but I paid a premium for a new phone so this wasn’t acceptable to me.

It’s hard to find a deal on a new iPhone. A new unlocked iPhone 4s from Apple costs $450. The  iPhone 5c starts at $549 and iPhone 5s starts at $649.

If you are considering used iPhones, check eBay, CraigsList, and your friends. I have had good luck buying and selling smartphones on eBay.  Choose a reputable seller. Check their feedback. A company called Gazelle sells used iPhones on eBay and they are reputable. Sellers on eBay are either individuals or businesses. Avoid sellers who are brand new  or with no feedback. You can ask me to look at the listing for you if you want.

You can also find good deals on Craig’s List. you have to be comfortable meeting strangers, and be willing to live with the out of sight guarantee (Once you are out of sight, so is the guarantee).

Finally..ask friends and family. If you see someone with a new iPhone 5s, ask what they did with their old phone. AT&T will even unlock their old iPhone for free once the contract is up.

Regardless of where you get your iPhone from, the best model to get is a ATT or GSM unlocked model. You can use a locked one, but some readers report problems setting up MMS. It’s also possible to use a Sprint iPhone with Straight Talk, if you don’t mind being on the Sprint network. Avoid any iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s models from Verizon.

If you are willing to use an Android phone, there are many great brand new unlocked smartphones including the Nexus 5, Moto X, and Moto G.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask if you would like more help.

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