Are people really buying new, unlocked iPhones for $1000+ on eBay?
June 11, 2016 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I have a new-in-box, factory unlocked iPhone 6s to sell. eBay shows that some of these phones sell for a ton of money. What's the deal with that, and if it's real, how can mine be one of those?

Alternately, what is the best way these days to get the best price for the phone? I'm willing to deal with the hassle of craigslist (including meeting at a police station) if that's still the best choice, but there are a lot of new online places online that I"m not familiar with, and most of the other questions are a year or two old. I'm in L.A. if there are any local options I should look into.

I realize that prices fluctuate and different options will vary from day-to-day depending on reasons and I'll have to research whatever suggestions I get here, I just don't want to reinvent the wheel. Thanks!
posted by Room 641-A to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Take a look at the bid history on those "sold" items. (Click the "XX bids" link next to the "Winning bid" price.) There is a consistent pattern. Typically, a wide variety of eBay users run the price up, $10-$20 at a time, to a reasonable selling price for the item. Then (presumably when the item's owner decides the price is too low) a flurry of bids from unregistered users and/or users with "0" feedback ratings, who I have to assume are affiliated in some way with the seller, jacks the price way up over a short period of time.

I don't know what's to be gained by raising the price to a completely unreasonable level, but it does ensure that the product won't sell at auction -- maybe it's being relisted at eBay or elsewhere. But it seems almost certain that these phones are not actually being purchased at those prices.
posted by Mothlight at 10:44 AM on June 11, 2016

That seller has no positive feedback on phone sales and two buyers who say they never got their phones. Those phones sold for $300 though.
Here's my guess. There is a foolish foolish bidding strategy on eBay known as the nuclear bid. You want to make sure you win the auction? Bid $10,000 on a $600 dollar phone. Maybe when you put the bid in the auction was only at $200. eBay will keep upping your bid for you every time someone bids against you. You're sure to win. Unless another stupid bidder comes along and does the same thing, or someone starts playing games with it. And then you end up with a $5,000 winning bid on a $600 phone. And it never gets paid even though it is marked as sold. Maybe that stupid seller kept jacking the price up himself, hoping that the nuclear bidder would actually pay it.
That's my guess.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2016

There is also something called "sport bidding," where people bid ridiculously high amounts with no intention of ever paying. Here's an ebay thread on it.

People selling iPhones on ebay also get scammed. Here's an article on ways sellers get scammed. Be careful.
posted by FencingGal at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2016

Consider using swappa ( Apparently the iPhone 6s is going for 500, 600, or 700, depending on storage option.

For high demand items (like an iPhone) I'd just let the market sort itself out via eBay bidding. Bear in mind that eBay's defaults leave you pretty exposed as a seller. To counter this, I have pretty restrictive bidder requirements in place to keep out time wasters and scammers (no international bidders, no zero feedback bidders, no bidders with unpaid item strikes, etc.). If you don't want to deal with eBay, I'd just use swappa.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:37 AM on June 11, 2016 [5 favorites] is another one that sees a fair bit of traffic. I've never tried to sell a phone but I just saw a hoverboard for sale so I can only assume that it's an audience that would buy a phone, too.
posted by aniola at 2:25 PM on June 11, 2016

Here in Cameroon, your phone (iPhone 6S, Unlocked, New) fetches $1,700 and carriers don't offer plans to purchase phones, so you either fork that out or you branch out of iOS. So, there's a market for you.

But more seriously, can't you just advertise your phone on eBay and see what comes of it?
posted by Kwadeng at 1:46 AM on June 12, 2016

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