Buying a Used Device for Use on Republic


Welcome to my guide for buying used devices for use on Republic! I hope you find it helpful in your quest for a “new” phone! You will notice that parts of the instructions are dependent on which plan you have (if you are a current Republic customer). I have tried to make these differences easily noticeable, but please read carefully! This guide is not intended for upgrading from the Defy XT (although it can be used for that).

So you’re ready to shop for a “new” phone? Let’s get started!

Prior to starting, if you are a current Republic customer, you need to determine which phone plan you are currently on (i.e. Unlimited, Refund, or Clear Choice). You can determine this by logging into your Republic account and selecting the appropriate phone you want to replace. The sub-menu that pops up will display your current plan (along with some additional information). If you are a prospective customer, you may skip this step and move on to the next.

Ok, now that you determined what plan structure you have (if applicable), you need to check your coverage here. If you are on an Unlimited or Refund plan, you plan on keeping your plan, and have adequate coverage, you can skip this step and move on to the next. Otherwise, please proceed. After you input your ZIP code, you will get one of the following screens:

  • If you get this screen that says “Good news! You’ve got coverage in your area” then you are good to go and you can move to the next step.

  • If you get this screen below that says “Please note: ‘Bring your own phone’ is not supported for your location at this time” then you will need to buy the phone from Republic as opposed to buying a used device and bringing it to Republic. You can go ahead and close my guide unless you want to read the rest for the fun of it :wink: .

  • If you get this screen with the following message: “Please note: Your area [insert area code] does not have cellular coverage” then coverage is not adequate and unless you are planning to stay on the $5 plan (only on Refund and Unlimited plans), then you should probably look for other providers. If you currently have Republic service and have good coverage, you shouldn’t see this error message, but I thought I would mention it anyway since coverage can change.

Now that you have checked your coverage, you can find out what your upgrade (or downgrade :wink: ) options are.

  • Important! If you are on the Unlimited or Refund plans and you want to keep your plan, your only options will be the following phones: Moto E1, Moto E2, Moto G1, Moto G3, Moto X1, or the Moto X2. You can view the list [here].(Republic Wireless Phones – Republic Help). The phones must be a Republic version! They cannot be an unlocked variant! If at any point in this guide you decide that you want to upgrade to a Clear Choice plan, it is imperative that you go back to the last step and check your coverage-even if you have good coverage now.

  • If you are a prospective customer or a current customer on a Clear Choice plan, you can view an updated list of compatible phones here (note that even if the Republic shop does not sell the phone anymore, that does not mean you can’t buy it elsewhere and activate it).
    Refund and Unlimited plan customers only: Note that if you buy a compatible phone from the list above, you will have to change your plan to one of the Clear Choice plans. You cannot keep your Refund or Unlimited plan when purchasing one of those devices. If you want to keep your Refund or Unlimited plan, please see the previous step.

Now that you have found out which phones are available for your plan structure, you can decide which phone(s) you are interested in. Once you have narrowed it down to a few different models, you need to make note of the compatible model numbers, and/or SKUs, and/or builds of each phone you are interested in. You may notice that some models just have a model number but no SKU or required build. That’s because each model Republic supports is different. Some may just have a model or some may have an SKU and Build requirement. Knowing the model, SKU, and/or Build is extremely important because if you get the wrong model, SKU, or build number, the phone will not work with Republic.

Whew! That was a lot of work! Take a quick break so you can stretch or get something to eat.!

Welcome back! Now you can move on to shopping for your phone. This can be the funnest or the most frustrating part of buying a new phone. I, personally, enjoy the thrill of the hunt! Anyway, there are a number of marketplaces that you can find used devices on. Some of the most popular are eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and Swappa. Here are some personal thoughts I have on each marketplace:

  • eBay- Fairly safe marketplace. You can get decent deals on most phones-very few scams. You can view the feedback of sellers to see if the seller is honest. They utilize PayPal so in the rare event that you run into any issues that the seller won’t fix, you will be able to get your money back.

  • Amazon- Safe marketplace. Most of the “people” selling on Amazon are businesses that sell large quantities of items. I would caution against buying phones from new sellers that have no feedback and extremely low prices (it’s a common scam that has happened to me multiple times on Amazon). Prices are generally high or mediocre at best. However, it is one of the safest marketplaces as Amazon has superb buyer protection and support.

  • Swappa- Fairly safe. All the phones are vetted so they are guaranteed to be activation ready. You can view the feedback of the seller to see how “good” the sellers are. Prices are some of the best online -usually cheaper than eBay and Amazon. Like eBay, Swappa uses PayPal as well so if you run into any issues, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your money back. Note: I am talking about the main site, not the boneyard. Buying from the boneyard is a different story. It’s very risky. I have had upwards of 8 transactions go south in the boneyard. I am actually trying to retrieve my money right now.)

  • Craigslist- Risky. Craigslist is extremely risky and should only be used by those who know how to minimize risk. I used to buy from Craigslist a lot and resell phones online. I have totally stopped buying anything from Craigslist. Many sellers will be selling stolen phones that can’t be activated or phones that are financed and won’t be able to be activated. There is no recourse for items bought off Craigslist that are not as described. I strongly caution anyone from using Craigslist who doesn’t know what they are doing.

  • General note- There is always going to be a degree of risk when buying a device online. Always follow your instinct-if something is priced $150 below the normal price and the seller has no feedback, it is extremely likely that it’s a scam.

It’s important while shopping for your phone to make sure that the phone is clear for activation. Each phone has a unique identifier that individually identifies it to carriers (called the IMEI or commonly referred to as the ESN). This number must be clear in order for the phone to be used on Republic or any other carrier for that matter. On most marketplaces (excluding Craigslist), this can be assumed to be clear unless the seller states otherwise. The following are a few examples of what to watch out for: “Bad ESN”, “Bad IMEI”, “unable to be activated on [insert carrier-usually Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, or Sprint]”, and “unable to be used on cellular”. The seller has an obligation to disclose a blocked IMEI to the buyer (again, except for Craigslist) or else you will have a case to get your money back so if you do not see any warning signs its usually good to go. On Swappa specifically, the numbers are all verified to be clean and ready for activation. If you want to check the IMEI of a phone, you can check it here. As a side note, if you decide to ask a seller for the IMEI, don’t be surprised if the seller refuses. Many sellers aren’t comfortable with releasing this information prior to purchasing. In the case of Swappa, it is against their terms of use. I would only be seriously concerned if someone on Craigslist wouldn’t give it to me (that is a major, major red flag).

Aside from the IMEI being blocked, there is another thing to watch out for. This is a fairly recent phenomenon that seems to have hit eBay. I, as well as some of the other Ambassadors, have seen a few posts about it. It has to do with less-than-honest sellers taking carrier branded phones and flashing them to different software. In some of these cases, it will be a phone model that is not a supported model, but the seller flashed it to a supported model’s build. This is sketchy to say the least. I would highly recommend avoiding any phones like that. The following are some of the phrasing that the sellers use: “Flashed”, “Flashed to [insert model number] build”, and “running on [insert model] build”. The wording may not be the exact same, but I hope you get the idea. This is especially prevalent in Galaxy S7/S7 edge listings.

When you find a device that works with your current plan (or one of the new plans [if you are OK with upgrading from your Refund or Unlimited plan]), is a compatible model, build, an/or SKU, and is clear for activation, then you need to purchase a SIM kit. You can either purchase them from Republic or Amazon (both of them are identical).

Once you have your phone and SIM, you can start the setup and activation on your phone. Here are some other helpful guides that will help you in setting up and activating your phone: How to Transfer Contacts, Photos, Text messages and Other Info to Your New Phone and Activate Your Phone – Republic Help .

RW 1.0 plan and Moto G5 plus?

If buying a used Republic 1.0/2.0 phone the official advice is here: Buying and Selling Used Republic Wireless Phones – Republic Help


Thank you! I didn’t realize that was there (even though I have used it before). Oh well, I guess the guide is just very inclusive (except for the Defy XT) :wink: .


Your guide is far more comprehensive. Perhaps Republic should use your work to update the official guide to reflect the reality of 3.0 phones which aren’t addressed there.


Thank you! I spent my evening working on it last night (3+ hours). If you ever feel like anything needs to be added, please do so!

I need to replace a Dead phone

This guide looks great for a 3 hour excursion! Kudos! :+1:


Thank you :smile: .


Wow, don’t know how I missed this. Very well done!. :relaxed:


Thank you!


Ok. So I’ve read the well done BYOP articule. So informative, thanks, learned a ton. LOTS of ppl out there (eBay) claiming their unlocked phone will work on any GSM carrier (apparently not true). Ij’m wanting an S6. Found one that appeared promising (SM-920G & G920TZKAX (based on decal on back-it’s been in a case since birth), Swappa approved IMEI). Contacted the seller pasting in the list of builds supported (and how to find them-their 1st reply was WTF are you talking about? ). They replied (pasted in here) “Yes, mmb29k.g920tueu3dpd6”. This is the very last one on the list of 14.

So, 2 questions:
!.) Can I be “very confident” of it’s compatibility and start bidding like mad, or is there something else to check also?
2.) Once activated with the new RW SIM, will the phone update to a newer build or remain at …u3dpd6? If the latter, is there any downside to that (service quality, glitches, etc.?) Oops that’s actually 3.:grinning:

  1. you have done the home work and I’m confident this phone is compatible
  2. this is up to Samsung (I Don’t think they will have another major OS update but they may have a minor security update


drm186: Thanks so much!


Just to add a bit of context to supported builds - If you activate the S6 on RW and then later on the build number changes due to an official update from Samsung, RW will continue to support that new build as well. This should not have any impact on your ability to continue using the phone on RW.

Just as an aside, have you confirmed that you will have good GSM coverage by going to the BYOP
link and punching in your zip code to make sure BYOP is supported in your area. You may want to
punch in additional zip codes in your local area…to make sure GSM is a good fit for your area of use.

This is especially important for a phone such as a the S6 which is GSM only. Some of the other phones supported by RW have the ability to work on either GSM or CDMA (but NOT both at the same time)…so in the future if GSM does not prove to be the right choice for you…you can have RW evaluate if a switch to CDMA might provide better coverage.

See here for more context about RW’s coverage and phones.


Thank you @iceshack! Out if curiosity, how did you find my article?


I think I was just searching around the community, using different combinations of terms.Had initially seen a phone list from Ben G. Not sure exactly how I got to yours from his.

Now, if I want to bring my girlfriend aboard on a refund plan with a used Moto G3:

1.) Do I need to put her on my current refund plan or does RW still offer that plan for “new” customers?
2.) Will any XT1548 previously with any carrier work or are there other details to be concerned with (like with the S6)? (Seems both GSM & CDMA versions of the XT1548 are out there).
3.) If she needs to be added to my plan and I later make the move from Refund to BYOP (i.e. got my S6 after all) can she “take over”?
4.) If not, could I have both plans in my name with her paying the Refund bill via her credit card linked to the Refund and my card to the BYOP?


Hi @iceshack!

Thanks for your reply! You should be fine activating it on a new account. Republic still allows new activation of Refund phones so activating it on a new account shouldn’t cause any issues.

Regarding the Moto G3, only the Republic version will work. BYOD is not available for Refund phones (of course, you can buy a used Republic G3 and bring it-just not an unlocked version). Additionally, Refund plans only work on Republic’s CDMA carrier (so no GSM). Both BYOD and GSM are benefits of 3.0.

Since she can activate her phone on her own line, I am guessing these don’t apply (regarding questions 3 and 4). I will answer them anyway :wink: . Regarding question 3, it’s kind of yes and no. Could the account be split? Yes, however it’s very difficult on Republic’s end to do this. I wouldn’t recommend doing it (as it would be a LOT easier for you and Republic to activate it separately on her own account). Lastly, you can’t split the bill and have one card pay some and another the other. You have to pay it all with the same card.

I hope that answers all of them!


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