Used smartphone market has flourished in the past couple of years. Of all used devices that go back to the market to get a second life, a significant number are iPhones. However, keep in mind that all electronic devices, smartphones in particular, are exposed to many dangers which can seriously reduce their functionality. That’s why, whether you buy a used iPhone for yourself as a main or secondary device, for your kid or to resell and earn some money, always remember to check all the essential details regarding the phone’s condition, carrier status, etc. Here’s what you should pay special attention to.
Used iPhone can make a great purchase as long as you remember to check a few important details beforehand
1. Model identification
Usually it’s pretty easy to tell which model you are dealing with, especially if you know a little about iPhones. However, always check whether the phone you are buying is the model the seller claims it is, since some look very similar at first glance when you look at pictures or description. Just to be on the safe side, compare sold used iPhone model number with the device’s model number on official Apple website. Also, never forget to double check storage. You know, it’s a huge difference between 8GB and 64GB of memory in terms of capability and pricing.
2. Carrier check
It’s essential, especially in case of locked phones. Since such device will work only on one carrier, you should find out which one it is. You can do so by using a number of methods. First, check the APN which is displayed in the upper left-hand corner from the main home screen. If it’s a GSM device, you may need to insert a SIM card, while CDMA phone will display the info without SIM. You can also go to Settings > General > About > Network (you may need a SIM card for this method to work) and check for IMEI (GSM) or MEID (CDMA).
Once you get the number, you can go to the carriers IMEI/MEID lookup and you should get the information you are looking for. With newer models, getting the IMEI, MEID or ESN is pretty easy, since the numbers are on the back of the device. If all the above fails, you can use Blowfish Unlocks which will also give you additional details regarding “unlocked” status, warranty information and activated status.
3. IMEI/ESN lookup for lost, stolen, blacklisted or bad ESN database
That’s a very important step, since you don’t want to end up with a lost or stolen phone. For the information to be reliable, you should check ESN and IMEIs directly from the major carriers. Verizon and T-Mobile allow to check IMEI online. All you have to do is enter the number in a form and within seconds you will get the device’s status. AT&T and Sprint don’t have such tools, unfortunately. However, you can chat with AT&T wireless support, provide them with IMEI and ask to check for you. Another way would be to go through the first stages of activation process. This method also works for Sprint. If you don’t want to go through carriers, you can always use CheckESNFree . com.
4. Unlock status of the iPhone
If the seller is the first owner, it’s very probable that the iPhone is locked, unless it was unlocked on request or purchased this way from Apple. However, if you are about to buy a device that was purchased used from or a third party, the seller may not even be aware if it’s locked or not. The only reliable way to learn the device’s unlock status is to check iPhone’s status via IMEI on Apple’s website. There’s now other method, since unlocking the handset won’t change any settings or details such as model number, serial number, etc.
5. Apple Care Warranty lookup
In most cases, when you buy a second hand device, it won’t come with any sort of warranty, but not always. Some used iPhones may still have Apple Care Warranty or even manufacturer’s one year warranty which may come in handy, so it’s a great idea to check. Again, you can do so, by entering required details on Apple’s website.
Apple Care Warranty covers serious injuries such as water damage, cracked display or body, etc. If any of such misfortunes happened to the phone, Apple will replace the device for free. In some cases a fee of $50 may be required to cover shipping and processing costs, but even then it may pay off, depending on the price you paid for the phone.
If are lucky and the device still has manufacturer’s one year warranty, you can have it replace in case of any malfunction such as a tiny crack, bad button, weak Wi-Fi, etc. Usually the replacement is for free, though sometimes a small fee may be required.
If there’s no warranty, there’s no need to give up on the used iPhone even if it’s somewhat damaged. It all depends on what you’re going to do with it. If your plan is to resell the iPhone, it may be worth to have Apple replace the device for a flat device exchange rate and then sell it at a decent price.
6. iCloud lock, activation lock, Find My iPhone and pass codes
It was not relevant back in times when you could still conduct a simple hard reset or factory restore from the device or iTunes. However, ever since Apple introduced additional security features which were supposed to make its products less attractive to thieves, buying used iPhones became much trickier. If you are not careful, you may end up with a device which will boot to the main menu and stop right there. To avoid such situations, first go to settings and disable the “Find My iPhone” feature, then make sure you can sign out of iCloud and iTunes. You can also do a factory restore to check if the phone can get back to the main menu activation. In order to find out if there are no pass codes, do a regular power cycle and tap the home button to lock the device and power it back on.
7. Hardware basic functional test
You probably won’t have the time or resources to test the phone inside out, but there are a few essential components which should be checked unless you want to buy a piece of electronic waste. First of all, check the display against a black background, purple .com, or the note pad. Touch all parts of the touch panel and turn the phone side to side to make sure that the digitizer and proximity sensor work. Make sure the used iPhone you bought can connect to Wi-Fi and make and receive calls.
Record a short message and play back the recording to test microphone and speakerphone and check whether both cameras can take photos and record video. Make sure that all buttons are working, the vibrate motor is functioning and the SIM card reader is not damaged in any way. Don’t forget to test the charging port and audio jack and look for Watermark Indicators in newer models of iPhones.
To sum up
Apple’s iPhones are among the most premium smartphones that are currently available on the market. Due to their great quality, they make perfect candidates for resale. If you follow all the above mentioned steps, you can be sure that you get all the information necessary to decide whether the used iPhone deal is actually worth buying. Good luck with your purchase.