The price tags for Apple, Samsung, and Google smartphones are mind-boggling. And people are fed up with those bloated price tags. Fewer than 10% of people in the United States are willing to spend this much on a new smartphone, according to NPD Group’s recent market research. That’s one of the reasons the sale of used and refurbished phones has skyrocketed. But buying a used phone comes with certain risks.
Read on for the top 4 questions you must in this used phone buying guide.
1. Is This Refurbished Phone Unlocked?
The first question you must ask when buying a used phone is whether or not the phone is unlocked.
A locked phone is one that has a software code embedded in it that prevents you from using the phone on another network. So if it is a Verizon phone, you can’t use it through Sprint, for example.
An unlocked phone doesn’t have that software or it comes with a code that unlocks the software. An unlocked phone allows you to pop in your own SIM card and get service.
You want to make sure you can use any provider you want with the used phone you buy.
2. Is This Phone Stolen?
Unfortunately, many used iPhones on the market are stolen. Scammers often try to sell stolen phones through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist.
Likely, if you ask this question and it is stolen, you won’t get the truth. But the good news is you can find out for yourself.
When someone’s phone is stolen, that owner likely requests that the phone is blocked from carrier networks. Or they could remotely lock the phone so no one can use it.
Ask to see the serial number before you buy. Then you can check if that number has been marked as stolen.
Check out the online Stolen Phone Checker tool. Once you put in the serial number on this site, it will tell you all the red flags in a phone’s history.
You can also dial *#060# from the device to get the phone’s serial number or look it up in the device’s Settings menu.
3. Can It Still Get Security Updates?
Never buy a used Samsung Galaxy, iPhone, or any other kind of cellphone that no longer gets security updates from its manufacturer.
Unsupported phones put you at severe risk for data breaches. Unsupported devices are open windows for hackers to get access to all the information on your device – including banking details, photos, passwords, and more.
Most Android phone manufacturers tend to support their handsets for two to three years. Apple takes that further, however, supporting even iPhone 6S (from 2015) with the latest iOS 14.4.
You can go to the manufacturer’s website to see which devices are supported. Unfortunately, the companies don’t tell consumers ahead of time which items they will soon stop supporting.
Yes, it can be annoying when phones are no longer supported by their manufacturer. Especially when the hardware is still fine. But it’s not worth the security risk.
You can get hints about how much longer your chosen device might be supported. Check out the support page for the oldest device listed.
You can assume that that phone will not be supported for much longer. You can assume that the second-oldest phone will have another year of support and so on. With some basic math, you can give yourself a fair estimate of how long your phone will be supported.
The best tip for how to buy a used phone is to choose one that was released in the last two years. That way, that device is sure to still be getting security updates.
4. Will I Get a Warranty?
This is arguably the most important question you should ask before getting refurbished or used phones.
Usually, used phones are not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. But depending on where you buy the used phone from, you might get a warranty of 90 to 180 days from the seller.
Ideally, you want to purchase refurbished phones from a reputable supplier. Ask about their money-back guarantee or any warranty.
Before You Buy – Double Check the Details
Here is one final tip for those of you who are shopping online for a used phone. Read the listing very carefully.
One teen paid $735 for a picture of an Xbox. You don’t want to repeat that mistake!
Pay special attention to what you are actually getting. Don’t be lured by photos or captions. Read the listing carefully, including any small print.
Look for phrases like “nonfunctioning” or “battery faulty.” Often, these phrases are buried in a bunch of text in order to mislead people.
Be sure to read to find out if you are getting the original charging cable, packaging and what sort of damage and scratches are on the device.
Also, as soon as you get the phone in your hands, do a full factory reset yourself. Then, make sure to check for all available software updates before doing anything else.
Best Tips for Buying a Used Phone
There you have it! Now you know the dos and don’t of buying a used phone. If you follow these tips, you can have a modern phone without the high price tag.
At Fruit Fixed, we believe that quality and price don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Our Low Price Guarantee means you get top quality at the best price.
Visit one of our locations or send us a line for more details.