How to Buy Mobiles and Smartphones on eBay

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How to Buy Mobiles and Smartphones on eBay
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How to Buy Mobiles and Smartphones on eBay

There are many considerations to appreciate when purchasing a mobile phone or smartphone. Technology is constantly evolving, new features are emerging all the time, and brands are in competition with each other to improve their products and offer the best experience. This buying guide helps to make sense of the options available and explains the most important things to consider when purchasing on eBay.

Mobiles and Smartphones

In a world where smartphones are becoming more and more popular, standard mobile phones still find widespread use, and this is because they still provide all the most important mobile phone capabilities: making calls, sending text messages and multimedia messages, playing basic games, and taking photos. Normal mobile phones do not provide internet, social media, and multimedia capabilities, however, and this is where smartphones become a better choice.

Mobile and Smartphone eBay Listings Page

To find mobile phones and smartphones on eBay, the first step is to head to the eBay homepage. There are categories on the left side of the homepage; click on Mobile Phones & Communication,, which can be found under the Electronics & Technology category. Then click on the Mobile & Smart Phones link on the left side of the page to go to the main mobile and smartphone listings page.

eBay Mobile and Smartphone Buying Guide

The mobile phone market is very diverse, with different brands and models offering a large range of different phones to suit different preferences and budgets. This is the case with new mobiles,, but when the used mobile and smartphone market is also considered, the amount of choice available increases dramatically, as does the price range.

SIM Cards and Service Providers

At the heart of every modern mobile is the SIM card. New mobile phones often come bundled with a Contract or Pay As You Go SIM card when purchased directly from a network provider or a mobile phone retailer. For marketplaces like eBay, however, in general the phone will not come with a SIM card included. SIM cards can be purchased separately. Mobile phones and smartphones will either be unlocked or locked to a specific network provider. An unlocked phone can be used with any SIM card, while a locked phone can only be used with a specific SIM on a specific network. Unlocked phones are more expensive than their locked counterparts. The Sim Lock category on the eBay mobile phone listings page can be used to specify locked or unlocked phones. Even when the 'unlocked' filter is selected, it is important to check with the seller to make sure the phone is actually unlocked.

Mobile and Smartphone Brands

There are a large number of mobile phone brands, though the most popular and well-known manufacturers are Apple, BlackBerry, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. Phones from these manufacturers are generally a good choice with high quality design, many useful features, and high durability. Popular providers of budget mobile phones are Alactel and Sagem. Other manufacturers include Philips, Dell, and Acer. Many of the major network providers have also been known to manufacture mobiles and smartphones. The eBay Mobile & Smart Phones listings page can be specified according to all of the major and minor phone manufacturers under the Brand category. This includes phones and smartphones with Nokia,, Apple,, Samsung,, Blackberry and HTC..

Operating Systems

Every phone comes with an operating system, and since the advent of smartphones, the operating system has become the focal point of the user experience. With big differences in features and functionality between different operating systems, the operating system is now as important to consider as the underlying hardware.



iTunes, App Store



Gestures, Multitasking, BlackBerry Hub



Android Cloud to Device Messaging, Google Play



People Hub, Exchange, Office

As well as the major operating systems, there are a number of cross-platform systems such as Tizen (cross-platform), Symbian (Nokia), Bada (Samsung) and Linux. Operating systems can be specified using the filters on the Mobile & Smart Phones listings page.

Internet and Connectivity

Standard mobile phones rarely have internet capabilities, though smartphones have a range of options for internet access. The two main methods for internet connectivity on smartphones are Wi-Fi and mobile internet. Mobile internet is provided from the mobile network in question and the network may charge for the amount of data used. Wi-Fi allows the phone to connect to any available Wi-Fi signal in the local vicinity. Smartphone data technology comes in a number of variants. The most popular is 3G, though the faster 4G is currently being introduced with certain network operators. Tethering is a feature on some smartphones where the phone uses its data connection to supply internet to other devices nearby via Wi-Fi. Local connectivity between phones and other devices is also possible with infrared and Bluetooth.

Battery Life

All mobile phones from reputable brands come with long battery life, but this reduces rapidly if the phone is used to make calls or used for other purposes. Because smartphones have large screens and demanding processing requirements, the battery runs down much faster when used, in comparison to standard mobiles, and will rarely last more than a day if used frequently. Portable charging accessories are extremely useful to have when using smartphones away from home.

Touchscreen and Interface

Screen sizes vary from roughly 2.5 inches with basic mobiles and smaller smartphones to over 6 inches with the largest smartphones. Standard mobiles are limited to button inputs only. The most common smartphone interface is the touch-screen, which provides complete functionality without the need to use buttons, though many models come with buttons for certain functions or an entire keypad for messaging.

Storage Capacity

All phones and smartphones come with internal memory for data storage, though some smartphones also come with changeable SD and micro-SD card slots. The slots are compatible with SD cards and micro-SD cards up to 16GB in size. Many of the most recent smartphones do not come with SD card slots.

Making the Right eBay Phone or Smartphone Purchase

It's important to understand there are different types of seller on eBay.

eBay Sellers and Shops

All purchases made on eBay are made with a single seller or with an eBay shop. All purchases are covered by Purchase Protection, but care should still be taken over the reputability of each seller. Each seller and shop will have a profile, an overview of which can be seen in the top-right of each listed product page. The Positive Feedback percentage shows how satisfied previous customers were, and the Feedback profile gives a detailed account of all past seller activity and includes buyer feedback and comments. eBay Top-rated sellers consistently gain the highest customer ratings from buyers and complete a minimum of 100 transactions every year without trouble, making them a very safe choice when purchasing mobile phones and smartphones on eBay. Always be careful with sellers who have no selling history.

Used Purchase Questions to Ask

If a used mobile or smartphone is being purchased, carefully check the condition of the phone and the current battery life. As a rule, older used phones with the original battery will provide much less battery performance; a good option is to purchase a brand-new compatible battery separately. Note that any product that has been opened must be categorised as Used on eBay, even if the product has not been used and/or there are no signs of wear. The Ask a Question feature can be used to ask the seller about the product. This is very useful if the seller has not provided all of the information explained above, especially the condition of the phone and the battery life.

Buy it Now and Auctions

eBay uses the Buy it Now and Auction buying formats. Buy it Now is where the product can be purchased for a fixed, predetermined price, while Auctions follow the traditional auction format where a number of potential buyers will try to win the purchase by bidding against each other. Buy it Now is fast, easy and hassle-free, though Auction can provide excellent value for money. Listed items can be either Buy it Now or Auction, or both.

Mobile and Smartphone eBay Listings Page

To find mobile phones and smartphones on eBay, the first step is to head to the eBay homepage. There are categories on the left side of the homepage; click on Mobile Phones & Communication, which can be found under the Electronics & Technology category. Then click on the Mobile & Smart Phones link on the left side of the page to go to the main mobile and smartphone listings page.. Alternatively, use the search bar at the top of every eBay page to search for specific items, such as “used Samsung smartphone” or “iPhone new”.


The mobile and smartphone market is so diverse that this buying guide has only touched the surface. Learn more by reading through the manufacturer's specifications and the information provided by eBay sellers.

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