This post was most recently updated on April 17th, 2019
When you love the latest or trending gadgets like me but money is a hindrance to acquiring them, you will always think of a plan “B”. The only way to use the latest smartphone for a price cheaper than the retail is to buy it as used. Now, you need certain precautions when buying used phones. These precautions are what we are going to address in this article. Buying a used/pre-owned phone cuts across language barriers. Although it is a more common occurrence in developing countries of the world.
What to do to Avoid Buying A Defective Used Phone
Even a mobile phone geek, if care is not taken, can buy a defective used phone. Personally, I have been buying used phones for as far back as 2005. I will not lie to you when it comes to using expensive phones, I confidently opt for the used ones because they are cheaper. It is just recently that I started buying some brand new phones. If you want to minimize your loss or you want to avoid buying a defective used phone, please read and assimilate the following tips:
Necessary Precautions When Buying used Phones
It becomes necessary to look before you leap when buying used phones. If you are in a haste, you end up being pennywise and pounds foolish. The expenses you might incur in the repair of the defective phones may make it not worth it after all. I will be listing the necessary precautionary steps to be taken when attempting to buy a used phone irrespective of the seller.
1. Prior Knowledge of the Phone you Wish to Buy is Essential
The question is, how do I know about a phone before buying it?This sounds like a simple thing to do right? Well, it is not that easy but it is very possible. I will teach you some of the things you need to do. These includes
- Read about the phone and focus your attention on the user’s opinion, review and complaints. During the exploding note 7 sagas, users who have fallen victims served as the precursor for those willing to buy. There are websites that primarily review phones. such includes gsmarena, phonearena, gadgetnow and so on. The first thing you need to do is to read the reviews of such phones vis-a-vis the failure rates, battery endurance, reliability and so on.
- Similarly, you can look for someone close to you who are already using the exact type of phone and familiarize yourself with its features. You want to buy and ask extensive questions while at the same time observing it physically.
- Another tip is to look up the full technical specifications of the phone on visit reputable sites like www.gsmarena.com. Let me give you a case study of what once happened to me. I wanted to buy a used phone for a client. I gave him the options to choose between Sony Xperia z2, HTC one m7 and galaxy s5(all within same spec range. He preferred sony to the others but Sony was more expensive. Along the line, I discovered that HTC m7 can develop a digitizer problem(I read users review about this online) so I discouraged him. He ended up buying s5.
- Have prior knowledge of the cost as new and as used. To get the price of the used, you can visit local online classified marketplaces like offerUp, letgo, craiglist. For example in Nigeria, we have the likes of jiji.ng, olx.
- Ask your local engineers about the accessibility of parts for the phone. Some phones are good, but once you want to repair them, you pay through your nose. Also if you are buying a phone with full accessories like charger, you pay a higher price.
- Another consideration is the year of release of the phone. The older the year, the cheaper the phone all other things being equal. In my case, I do not venture into buying a used phone newer than 9 months.
2. Where to Buy Used/Pre-Owned Phones or From Whom
The decisions about where to buy or from whom is a critical one. However, I will help you simplify this and you can still get a good used phone regardless of where you are buying from or from whom. Summarily, users reviews and opinions, as well as the rating of the seller, is the number of pointers to buying a good used phone online. This works 99% of the time.
You can buy from classified ads website or from online retails stores Such as eBay or Amazon, offerUp
Don’t let it come as a surprise that Amazon also sell used phones. Amazon sells two categories of used phones namely: Renewed/refurbished and used. Buyers are always kings on Amazon as the company have some protection mechanisms in place to safeguard your transaction. When you are buying from Amazon, make sure you read all of the product descriptions and go with the used phone with the best conditions. Amazon offers several conditions on her used items. Some of this includes used “like new”, used “good”, used “very good” and used acceptable. If you want a near flawless device, go with either “used like new” or “used very good”.
Similarly, if you are buying online from other stores like you are to a large extent safe as long as you patronize reputable international or domestic websites. For near trouble-free websites especially for those in the USA you can patronize; www .swappa.co, ebay.com, craiglist.com. If you are in Nigeria, you can use olx.com(Buy be very very careful as we have a lot of scammers. with olx, make sure you meet before transacting the business, do not go to the seller with physical cash, test very well before payment, do not pay any amount upfront), jiji is also a good one. Like I said, Nigerians should be careful when buying used items online from domestic websites because of scammers. For any online purchases, always avoid patronizing sellers with no stars, no positive reviews. Still, on online stores Be sure to make sure there is a return policy.
3. Precautions When Buying A Phone Offline: That is, One-On-One
First and foremost, you need to secure yourself. If you want to meet up with a total stranger, make sure you meet at a safe place. Fast food joints, restaurants, near a police station and so on. Also, come along with someone if possible. Furthermore, you can connect with a used phone seller online and agree to meet offline. You can do this by calling or texting people, or use social networks like Google+ and Facebook(Like I said earlier meet the person in a safe place before transacting)
I have personally made friends with at least 3 gadgets sellers whom I met online. Today, we are like brothers. I met two of them online and I met the last person offline through a friend. They can send me phones upfront and I can send them money in advance. They will never sell a phone with hidden faults to me. I mostly help people to buy game consoles, used phones and laptops from these guys. While buying from a social network please be cautious and play it safe. it’s important you trust who you are buying from. Stick to “true” friends and family if possible, and not the friend of a friend. Knowing where they live doesn’t hurt either. Have you already made a make a mistake? You’re on your own. There are no protections once the purchase is made.
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4. Tips Before going to Meet-up with A Used Phone Seller
When you meet the seller through local online sites like in craigslist, offerup.com, olx and the likes or a social network, you actually get to look at the phone before you say yes, instead of relying on pictures. Before you set the meet-up, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Before scheduling a meeting, let them know you will want to insert your own SIM, you’ll want proof it can charge, proof it can power up and you’ll be checking to ensure its in 100% working condition at every level. If they seem cool with it, then give it a shot. Always remember that they can scam you even if you are as thorough as you can be.
- Make sure you meet in a public location as opposed to a home, when possible. It should also be during the day for both safety reasons and because it makes it easier to see the phone.
5. Precautions When Inspecting the Used Phone
This is the last but not the least. Please for your own good, master all the tips am about to provide below they are very important to safeguard your purchase. Mind you, even when you meet the person, you may still run into trouble. Like I said earlier, please patronise only trusted people. Following these steps helps you detect problems early, so you can deny buying the phone.
Stuff to bring with you for the inspection:
- Bring a battery pack or a laptop, as well as a charging cable. Nowadays, power banks come handy
- A MicroSD card if the phone has a slot for it
- An active SIM card that is compatible with the phone you are testing
- A flashlight
- Also, bring another phone
- Go with at least one other person
Used/Pre-Owned Phone Inspection Checklist
- First off, inspect if the phone is not locked to a particular network or having any security protection. As much as you would love to get that phone cheap, I am sure you wouldn’t want to buy a stolen phone and get yourself into trouble. To avoid buying a stolen phone, make sure no account is linked to the device, For example, if it is an apple device, ensure that find my iPhone is turned off and no exiting iCloud account on the phone. Similarly, make sure the phone is not carrier locked by inserting different types of sim cards into it,
- Before you even boot the phone up, give it a visual examination. Start with the screen, how scratched up is? If the phone has physical keys, are they in good condition (press in okay, etc). Is the front camera’s glass cracked or damaged in any way? Next, move to the sides, checking for scratches and dents, testing the buttons out for how well they click and press. Finally move to the back, checking the camera for scratches or a broken lens, as well as scratches and other damage to the back.
- Next, remove the back if it has a removable back. Check the battery and other components. Also, take note of whether or not the battery is original or a 3rd party battery. This can make a very real difference when negotiating the price. Be sure to open all slots for microSD and SIM, check for visible damage signs. Speaking of checking for damage, don’t forget about water damage.
- Now it is time to put in the SIM card and microSD and turn the sucker on. Be sure to mess around with the phone’s software, get a feel for how fast it is, how the UI layout is (if it isn’t stock, etc). Make sure you feel comfortable with the phone. Als,o send a text, make a call and browse the web to ensure the SIM card is working well on the phone. And be sure to make sure your microSD card is recognized and working fine. While you are at it, check out all the ports. Plug in the headphones, test the sound with a song, a Youtube clip, whatever. Plug in your own charger cord to either your laptop or a power pack to make sure it is charging. Check any cables they’ve included as well though if they aren’t working, as long as yours are, this probably isn’t a massive deal.
- If you are buying a fairly used iPhone, make sure there is no iCloud lock on it. I mean the seller must log out of the iPhone and allow you to login using your own apple id.
- Spend no less than 2 hours operating the phone.
- make voice calls and video calls with it
- Insert at least two different sim cards to be sure the phone is fully carrier-unlocked
- Perform battery endurance test by pressing the phone and running several apps on it
- If you are buying in Nigeria especially from computer villaGE, PLEASE WALK INTO A SHOP AND DO YOUR PURCHASE. Please avoid the roadside no store sellers.
- Please avoid a price that is too cheap otherwise, you might be buying a stolen phone
- CHECK THE WIFI
- check the network bands that they are all working. my friend bought a used Samsung Galaxy S3 phone that has only 2g. So, beware.
- Check that the Bluetooth is working.
- Best of luck with your purchase