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If you don’t want to be tied in to a long-term phone contract but don’t want to pay full price for a new smartphone,... Tips On Buying Used Smartphones

If you don’t want to be tied in to a long-term phone contract but don’t want to pay full price for a new smartphone, then buying a used handset is one option. The online marketplace is full of second hand smartphones but choosing the right phone from the right seller is crucial if you are to avoid being scammed. We recently looked at what to do if you are selling a smartphone but here is some advice and tips on what to look out for before making any purchases.


I know it may sound obvious but when buying a second hand smartphone, it is always better if you can examine it in person. It will give you chance to inspect it more closely and test that each component works properly. However if you are buying online then this isn’t always possible, so the next best thing is to get the seller to send you detailed, high resolution photos. It is also worth doing some checks on the seller themselves by reading through reviews and feedback of anyone who has made previous purchases.

Tips On Buying Used Smartphones

Knowing the market goes a long way in helping you decide whether a handset is fairly priced. Check on various websites and with different retailers for the going rate of specific models but remember to compare like for like so that you get a more accurate idea of what certain models are selling for.

Used Or Refurbished

You’ve probably noticed that when searching for a used smartphone, you have the choice of either used or refurbished. A used phone is just sold as seen, so what you see is what you get. A handset that has been refurbished has been tested and repaired or serviced by the seller. These then often come with some form of short-term guarantee that lasts between 30 and 90 days. However, just because something has been refurbished doesn’t mean that it will come problem free, so it is still worth carrying out checks on the handset before purchase.

External Checks

When examining a smartphone you want to look for the glaringly obvious things like cracks, scratches and a loose back. Check all USB and charger ports as well as the headphone jack, making sure that they aren’t loose and that there are no signs of rust. Any signs of rust, either in ports or internally where the battery is held is an indication of water damage so you would want to stay well clear of this.

Water damage

If you can, switch the phone on so that you can check that the touchscreen or keypad works correctly. If there are  lot of signs of damage externally, then it is likely there will have been internal damage too.

Specification Checks

By the time you are ready to purchase a smartphone you should have a pretty good idea of what functions and features you are looking for. So if taking lots of pictures is your thing, then you should be looking for a handset with a good quality camera and plenty of megapixels. In this case, checking the camera lens and camera functionality is important when looking at a used phone.

If watching videos and using the internet is more your thing, then perhaps a bigger screen would be more suitable, so make sure to check that the screen isn’t scratched or cracked.

Is It Stolen?

Imagine that you have done all the physical checks, you’ve got the handset at a reasonable price and it turns up without a mark on it; you then discover that it is stolen, how gutted are you going to be?! This is a huge problem but by doing some simple checks you can protect yourself and also do your bit in stopping criminals benefit from this market.

By requesting the IMEI, ESN or MEID from the seller, you can then runs checks on the smartphone to make sure it is not stolen. The service provided by CheckMEND has a small fee but will provide you with a report of the handset’s history so that you can ensure it is legitimate and thereby saving yourself the heartache and agro later.

Locked Or Unlocked?

An unlocked phone is usually more expensive but offers you more flexibility to choose the network provider that can give you the best deal. However, locked phones are cheaper and you may be able to get it unlocked for a small fee so weigh up the price difference carefully to see what will give you the most flexibility at the best price.

locked smartphone

Buyer Protection Services

Finally, if you want some extra security and peace of mind then Buyer Protection is always an option. If a seller should fail to ship the phone to you after having taken your hard-earned cash, then Buyer Protection will provide you with some protection from online scammers and hopefully help to recover your money.

If have had good or bad experiences with buying second hand smartphones, then please share your experiences with us, especially if you have any extra tips that you have learnt along the way!

[Images via broadband4europeHuffingtonPost & XDA-Developers]