5 Crucial Steps of Buying a Used iPhone

Let’s not beat around the bush here – a new iPhone is expensive. Even if you can pick up a new iPhone 5c for less than $400, the $1,000+ you’ll shell out for its new, larger, rose-gold cousin means a new, high-end iPhone is out of the price range of most normal people.

What’s the solution? Simple: get a used iPhone. As iPhone production standards have lead to improved durability, you can now pick up an as-new second-hand iPhone at sometimes less than 50% of what you’d pay in a retail store.

Smart? Yes. I know. You get the same high-end quality with all the features, gadgets, and apps for less than 50% of what those Apple nuts who camp out overnight to get the latest phone are paying.

But, don’t just get any old second-hand iPhone. As with any second-hand purchase, there are important things you must consider before handing over your hard-earned cash.

Here are the top five things you must consider when buying a second-hand iPhone:

1. IMEI Viability

One trick scammers use to get high prices for what is essentially just a collection of spare parts, is harvesting pieces from broken phones and patching them together to make a Frankenstein iPhone. This voids the warranty and makes any repair work expensive and risky – not something you want!

To make sure you’re buying just one iPhone, rather than pieces of three of four iPhones, check the IMEI on the body of the phone, the software, and in the iPhone box. If they all match, then you’ve got a genuine iPhone.

The IMEI number can be found engraved on the iPhone SIM card tray, printed on the box, and shown in the iPhone software settings (Settings > General > About). If the three IMEIs match, your iPhone wasn’t tweaked.  If they don’t, send it back immediately as you’ve been sold a dud.


2. Make sure it doesn’t have an iCloud Activation Lock

Apple’s known for the high level of security they build into their products; after all, when was the last time you heard about a virus infecting a Mac? One of the latest features that come as a standard with iOS7 and above is iCloud Activation Lock.

The iCloud Activation Lock is where your iPhone is locked to one specific iClould account. This means that if you don’t have the right username and password, you can’t use the phone. It won’t matter if you reset the phone, jailbreak it, or get it hardware unlocked, you’ll be stuck with a very expensive paperweight.

If you purchase an iPhone that has the Activation Lock removed, you have nothing to worry about. You can use the phone without restriction whenever you want. But if the phone has Activation Lock turned on and the former users’ Apple ID signed in, you immediately need to tell your seller to use his password and unlock this security feature. If not, your phone will not accept a new Apple ID (which will, of course, be yours).

If you have already purchased a second hand iPhone, are not in touch with your seller, and the activation lock is still turned on, don’t despair. There are a couple of services that can help you remove previous owner’s iCloud from your Apple device.

3. Warranty Checks

In the rush to have the latest and greatest technological advancements, it’s not uncommon to find people selling an iPhone within a few short months of purchase. This is great news for you because there is a high chance of getting a second-hand phone that’s still under warranty. With a serial key, Apple enables you to check the warranty period and the product purchase date. In order to check, go here, input the serial key and check if the phone is still under warranty. To find the serial number, the following set of actions is in order: Settings > General > About.

Refer to this link if you encounter any problems while scavenging for the serial number.

4. Overall Condition and Battery Life


Disappointment shall ensue if you expect brand new conditions of your used iPhone. Suggestions are to expect a few scratches, maybe a small dent, a bit wore out charger point, etc. The good news is, often these small use effects are barely noticeable. Hence, thoroughly examine the iPhone before you buy it and avoid regret.

For the battery life, like any other mobile device, iPhone has a battery recharge cycle limit. Therefore, the capacity of the battery diminishes with use. To make sure you can enjoy a good battery life on your iPhone, it is heavily advised to buy a battery that is being sold after within a year of usage, or in another case, replace the battery with a new and genuine one – do remember the Frankenstein alert applies here too!

5. Make sure the iPhone is not carrier exclusive

This bit is important. Often, iPhones are locked to a specific carrier and unless you unlock it, your carrier might not work at all. After you have ensured that the phone is open for all carriers, check if it uses LTE or CDMA. For some CDMA networks, the phone with a bad Electronic Serial Number (ESN) won’t activate. The ESN will be bad if the phone was stolen or lost before.

Although, if you find a phone you want to buy, except for the carrier being locked like a bank vault, you can always unlock it by paying a few bucks online. There are several online services that unlock iPhones without having to physically hand over your device. You can read a review of a few IMEI unlock services here too.


5 Crucial Steps of Buying a Used iPhone - Conclusion

Ultimately, you are the master of your grand purchase. The final purchase decision belongs to you and depends on what are you precisely aiming for. Regardless of the tips mentioned above, do keep in mind to check whether all components of an iPhone box have been provided or not, if offered, of course, check if the iOS has been jailbroken or not and, most important, ensure warranty all throughout.

So, go ahead and check out a few used iPhones out there and with the help of the 5 tips above, you might just find your lucky match!

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Published By: Souvik Banerjee

Souvik BanerjeeWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 15+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".