A Samsung phone. // Photo credit Pixabay

Opinion: The good & bad of swapping phones

Swapping mobile phones is not something common these days with many people doing it either for fun, or to upgrade their mobile phones, or to try other phones without spending too much as the habit of changing phones can be pricey if one was to constantly buy and sell your phones.

In Kuching and Sarawak in general, the phone swapping community is huge, with groups I know having thousands of followers.

In fact, these groups are so active you get to see new phones posted up for swapping almost every hour, with ‘hot models’ getting a lot of attention.


Swapping phones is a barter trade system in which you seek for an individual willing to trade smartphones with you.

Phone Swapping advert
A phone swapping advert on Facebook.

Most of the time, swapping only happens when both parties agree to exchange phones, with face-to-face meet-ups being a vital point of the whole deal.

There are times swapping can involve what is called ‘clean swapping’, in which you don’t need to top-up any extra cash to make the exchange. This usually happens when the phone value or specifications is similar.

However in most cases, owners want to upgrade their phones to a better model and specifications, resulting in the party with the better phone to expect cash additions on top of their phones.

The process is negotiated between both parties until an agreement is made, and usually the whole process is concluded within 24-hours after an agreement is made, and no such claims will be entertained after the deal is done.


If you are a Malaysian, places that sell second hand items such as Mudah.my or the Carousell app are popular places to find people willing to swap phones.

Phone Swapping groups
Facebook is a great place to seek geographical phone swapping places.

Other than that, there’s plenty of phone swapping places on Facebook which you can join and participate in.  Simply search ‘phone swapping’ or ‘swap phone’.


In my opinion, there’s two main advantage of phone swapping. One of the main reasons is that you can experience more phone models in a short period of time because you need not to buy many phones to experience them.  instead, you can buy one phone you like, and start swapping your phone with others once you get bored with the phone.

The practice makes sense because selling off your phone as a second hand, just to buy a new one would likely result in you parting away with your phone at a horrible price, especially since merchants tend to buy back phones at 1/3 of the original price.

This gives me reason two to swap phones, which is you get to save money.

I’m saying this because when you swap your phone for a better model, you’d likely end up topping up some cash to cover the lesser specifications your current phone has as comparison to the newer higher specification phone.

Buying a phone
The value of a phone decreases over time. // Photo: Pixabay

However, the amount you are topping-up is minimal, compared to if you traded in your current phone and bought a new one.  Of course swapping phones meant you will be getting a second hand phone, but that does come with the territory of phone swapping.

An example is if you want the latest Samsung Galaxy Note8, and you are willing to let go of your current Samsung Galaxy Note7.

Trading in your Note7 would be cheap, so you can always find someone who is willing to give up their Note8, and take your Note7 with promise of additional cash like RM200.

This means you will get the Note8 for less than the market price which would likely take in your Note7 for below RM1,500, and you need to fork out over RM1,500 to buy a new Note8. But then again, like I said, you are getting a second hand Note8, and newer models tend to be less prominent in the swapping market.


Like everything, swapping phones does come with its very own disadvantage.

For one, you will not have the full history of the phone you are taking, hence making it possible for it to be a stolen phone.

Also, phones you get will likely not come with any warranty, so you can’t complaint if you realize the phone you get has a flaw or damage.  In most swapping deals, all the liabilities and problems with the phone is exchanged when the phones exchanges hands, and this includes any form of damages.

Operating system, ioS, Android
The operating system of a phone can also determine what phone is hot, or not. // Photo: Pixabay

There is also a likelihood that you will end up getting a downgrade, instead of an upgrade, unless of course you add up cash.  In most cases, people are looking to upgrade their device, so if your phone has been in the market for a while, swapping may be difficult.

Last but not least, it is also likely that the phone you intend to swap for does not come in a full set, with cables bought from third party shops.  To me, this is a minor thing however.


There’s plenty of scammers out there so it’s always good to stay safe when doing your deal.

When swapping, it is best to trade your phone for a full set (meaning the phone comes with a box and charging items) because this means the phone is unlikely to be stolen.

Aside from that, stay away from people who offer their phones that have technical problems., or the phone has excising wear and tear.  Avoiding models that have a lot of production issues is also good, and you should always do research before deciding to seal a deal.

Never swap phones without meeting the other party individually, as in by mailing your phone. Swapping should be concluded face to face, so there is no need to mail your phone for swapping.

Security, Safe
You must be extra careful when swapping phones. //Photo: Pixabay

Before you do the swap, always refrain from paying a deposit and always request for face to face payment if your deal requires it. Never pay anything in advance as this leaves you vulnerable to being cheated.

For best practice, consider going for popular brands instead of less known ones, and do observe the market if you intend to continue swapping. Phones are like cars when at trade.  The better brands like Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Sony seem to have better swapping value as compared to the rest.

Last but not least, when swapping you phone, make sure the phone you intend to get works and check the camera, the physical of the phone, they virtual keyboard, and key specifications which made you want to swap in the first place.  It is also a good idea to test the audio jack, insert your sim card in the phone, and try to make a call to a friend to test its reception.


Swapping phones is really not for everyone, but for many who can’t afford to buy new phones, this is the way to get your hands on different models.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d end up swapping phones, but given the fact I had a phone which was hard to sell, I tried swapping and I was impressed by how easy it was, and the quality of phone I got from swapping.  This may be the best way for me to get a phone to review every now and then!

Ulefone T1 Smartphone
The Ulefone T1 comes as a worthy buy

I don’t usually take extra care of the physical of my phone, but swapping has given me a reason to do so.

If you intend to try swapping your phone, please stay safe, and have fun. It can be addictive as well. – phonesentral.com